A few years ago, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce conducted a study to determine the value of a university degree. This included a look at the boost in income students could expect to see with postgraduate credentials. In summary, the study found that professionals with a postgraduate degree made an average of around 38% more than their counterparts who held only a bachelor’s degree.

This is a rough figure that represents a variable spread of data over the 15 fields of study that were surveyed. However, while some fields saw much higher spikes in postgraduate income than others, all registered a significant increase of one magnitude or another. For those wondering if earning a postgraduate degree is financially worth it, the answer is almost invariably yes.

UWA experiment

Pic: UWA experiment.

The importance of experience

There is, however, a catch-22 when it comes to postgraduate education. Some students – especially those who delve into grad school immediately after earning a bachelor’s degree – find that landing that first job is difficult despite their polished credentials. In fact, depending on the field and the state of the economy, employers sometimes gravitate toward candidates with lower credentials and more experience.

But don’t count this as strike against earning a postgraduate degree. Instead, keep an eye out for programs that offer work placements, internships and the opportunity to complete projects for real-world industry players. Most postgrad programs are sensitive to student concerns about gaining on-the-job experience while earning a degree, and they’ve worked a variety of experience-builders directly into the curriculum.

INSEEC students

Pic: INSEEC students.

Forging professional networks
For Asian students, one of the allures of studying in the West is the opportunity to network well outside their normal cultural and professional zones. Around the world, international programs are conducted in English and present the chance to build language proficiency while working alongside fellow students of diverse backgrounds. Many universities also partner with local industry players, and postgraduate students can build their own professional networks through these channels.

Upon graduation, they benefit from a diverse peer group, links to overseas companies and alumni membership. All of these are resources that can tapped and leveraged to the graduate’s benefit down the road. Study close to home, and your network base is going to be much narrower.

Regent's College London campus

Pic: Regent’s University London campus.

Postgraduate trends in Asia

There’s a global trend in education that’s coming to bear across Asia right now. As a national economy passes that blurry threshold from ‘developing’ to ‘post-industrial’, the manufacturing sector takes a back seat to research and development, services and information and communications technology. In short, the product of a post-industrial society is knowledge.

Of course, Asia is a vast continent populated by nations in various stages of development. However, the general trend is one of economic emergence. As nations pass the development milestone, a need for higher credentials manifests. Take Malaysia as an example. The Ministry of Higher Education has set a benchmark of 40,000 new master’s degree holders and 500 PhD holders by 2015. Trends in China are similar. Xinhua news agency reported that 1.5 million students took the Chinese postgraduate exam in 2011. That’s 7 percent more than took the same exam in 2010.

Project work at Edinburgh Napier University School of Arts and Creative Industries

Pic: Project work at Edinburgh Napier University School of Arts and Creative Industries.

Asian economies are marching ahead. Students who enroll now and earn postgraduate credentials are going to be well-positioned to reap major career benefits in coming years. With that in mind, the following are some of the leading international postgraduate programs for Asian students:

BUSINESS SCHOOLS

LORD ASHCROFT INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS SCHOOL, ANGLIA RUSKIN UNIVERSITY
One of the largest business schools in the east of England, Lord Ashcroft International Business School (LAIBS) has nearly 100 full-time faculty and around 6,000 students hailing from more than 100 countries. The curriculum is rooted in real-world business, and a priority is placed on forging industry links. LAIBS is one of relatively few business schools with the word ‘International’ in its title. This is more than a semantic distinction and represents a consolidated effort on behalf of the administration and faculty to cultivate international relationships, attract international students and promote business theory that is relevant to the 21st-century global business community. Read the full profile here…

LAIBS students

Pic: LAIBS students.

INSEEC
France’s Institut des hautes études économiques et commerciales (INSEEC) sits at the helm of a truly global network of business schools. It offers MBA programs and master’s programs in business and management through campuses in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Monaco, London and Chicago. Studying with INSEEC is a savvy move on behalf of Asian business students. Internationally recognized credentials combine with networks into nearly 30 French-speaking countries around the world to produce a dynamic, truly global degree. With more than 110 million native French speakers around the world and another 190 million second-language speakers, a degree from a top French business school builds serious career clout. Read the full profile here… 

REGENT’S UNIVERSITY LONDON, BUSINESS SCHOOL LONDON
This private business school was founded in 1997 with a charter group of ten students. Today, more than 450 are enrolled, with a significant South Asian student population. The business school aims to cultivate successful leaders in international business – professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to leverage a competitive edge in 21st-century business. Programs are flexible, with a twice-annual uptake (September and January). As a private school, Regent’s Business School is able to maintain small classes of less than 25 students, ensuring close personal attention from tutors. This is a world-class business education, and graduates go on to become leaders of global business. Read the full profile here…

LEEDS UNIVERSITY BUSINESS SCHOOL
With one of the best MBA programs in the world, Leeds University Business School (LUBS) is a leading institute for international students. The Economist has ranked the Leeds MBA in the top 15 in Europe, while Financial Times goes a step further and places on the global top-50 list. By any measure, Asian students scouting leading MBA programs do well to dwell on LUBS. One of the University of Leeds’ standout features is its international student induction program. Leeds is a national leader in this department, boasting one of the largest international offices of any university in the UK. As such, the campus welcomes more than 5,000 international students from a spread of 130 countries each year. Read the full profile here…

Leeds University Business School

Pic: Leeds University Business School.

POOLE COLLEGE OF MANAGEMENT, NC STATE UNIVERSITY
North Carolina State’s Poole College of Management offers graduate degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Global Innovation Management and Economics. Executive education is made possible through a collaborative approach that blends coursework with an action learning model. This dynamic arrangement prepares well-rounded graduates ready for professional leadership in a global and competitive marketplace.

SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING SCHOOLS

UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY – FACULTY OF ENGINEERING AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES
Australia’s oldest university was founded in 1850 and remains one of the most sought-after centers of higher education in the Asia-Pacific region. Prestige is a matter of course here. Since its inception, the University of Sydney has gifted the world with three Nobel Prize Laureates and a host of acclaimed leaders in science and engineering. The Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies is particularly competitive, and it attracts ambitious students from across Asia. Students enjoy access to a diverse range of course offerings that cover everything from robotics to biomedical engineering. This is a major hub of higher education for Asian students, but the Faculty of Engineering and IT’s networks circle the world. Read the full profile here…

University of Sydney Engineering

Pic: The University of Sydney.

UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA – FACULTY OF ENGINEERING, COMPUTING AND MATHEMATICS
The University of Western Australia is one of the premier universities in Australia, and its strategic location as a Western gateway to Asia makes it an ideal candidate for Asian students seeking postgraduate credentials. Shanghai-Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities places UWA among the global top-100 universities. UWA is also a member of Australia’s excusive ‘Group of Eight’ as well as the ‘Worldwide Universities Network’. The Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics is one of the leading choices for students of engineering in Asia. Renowned faculty and world-class facilities combine to create a vibrant atmosphere that breeds student excellence and ingenuity. Read the full profile here…

NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY, COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING
This is the fourth-largest college of engineering in the US, and it offers 30 postgraduate degree programs from its campus in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is a one of the most competitive engineering programs in the US, and its online distance learning program is regularly billed as a ‘best value’ in engineering education. Recently, the Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC) opened thanks to a US$33.5 million grant, putting faculty from the College of Engineering in touch with community colleges around the state to provide hands-on biomanufacturing experience.

JACOBS UNIVERSITY, SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE
Jacobs University is a leading provider of higher education in Germany, a country known for its technological prowess. Jacobs ranks well nationally – especially when it comes to the sciences – and its School of Engineering and Science leads the brigade. Don’t come to Jacobs University expecting homogeny. Some 80 percent of its students hail from outside of Germany, representing roughly 110 different nations.

CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, FACULTY OF ENGINEERING AND APPLIED SCIENCES
Caltech is in a league of its own when it comes to science and technology education. In fact, Times Higher Education has named the school first in the world in terms of engineering and technology. No small praise given the number of highly competitive engineering schools in operation today. This is a research-intensive university, ideal for ambitious postgraduate students who aspire to be nothing less than world leaders in their field.

ANGLIA RUSKIN FACULTY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The Anglia Ruskin faculty of Science and Technology is one of the university’s largest, with more than 6,000 students enrolled across both campuses. In recent years, the high calibre of research conducted through this faculty has gained international attention, which is in turn drawing greater interest from postgraduate students in Asia.  Coursework at the postgraduate level is highly relevant and informed by the cutting-edge research carried out by the faculty. Students develop the latest skills and knowledge they need to maximize their employment prospects upon graduation. They also benefit from having access to some of the finest study facilities in the UK. Read the full profile here…

LAW SCHOOLS

ANGLIA RUSKIN LAW SCHOOL
Anglia Law School is a vibrant and forward-thinking institute with a practice-based focus. Postgraduate students work in a diverse and dynamic atmosphere, with students hailing from all over the world. For Asian students of Law, this is a leading choice for adding international credentials to an existing law degree or boosting employability in markets around the world. The law school at Anglia Ruskin has been gaining popularity in recent years. Applications doubled for the 2011-2012 academic year. According to the Guardian League Table 2013, the school rests firmly inside the upper third of law institutes around the country. Its particular claim to fame is a practical focus that results in highly employable graduates. In fact, Anglia Law holds a national record in the National Client Interviewing Competition (six wins), which was sponsored by the Law Society. Read the full profile here…

CREATIVE INDUSTRIES SCHOOLS

EDINBURGH NAPIER UNIVERSITY, SCHOOL OF THE ARTS AND CREATIVE INDUSTRIES
Students with a passion for the arts and creative industries routinely have to face down the stigma that a degree in their field does not easily translate into a career. Edinburgh Napier University exists in stark contrast to this sentiment. More than nine out of ten graduates of the School of the Arts and Creative Industries find employment within six months of completing their studies. That’s an impressive statistic for any discipline, especially in today’s tough economic climate. Edinburgh Napier University’s competitive edge is rooted in the conviction that entrepreneurship is intrinsically tied up in the creative industries. With this in mind, the university operates an incubator that helps turn creative ideas into viable business models. Add close industry links and world-renown faculty to the equation, and it’s easy to see how a single university can be so successful on an international scale. Read the full profile here…

MURDOCH UNIVERSITY, SCHOOL OF MEDIA, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE
Western Australia’s Murdoch University is a nexus of free-thinkers in the Asia-Pacific region, and this fosters an atmosphere conducive to research and postgraduate scholarship. The main campus is located in Perth, far from the commotion of Melbourne and Sydney. Given its regional position, Murdoch is a leader in creative industries education, and research carried out here as sweeping implications for all of Asia. But it’s more than mere geography and the chance to live and study in a Western, English-language environment that draws Asian students here. Murdoch’s School of Media, Communication and Culture employs some of the leading academics in the industry, and the university enthusiastically seeks partnerships and collaborative agreements with universities across greater Asia. Read the full profile here…

Murdoch University

Pic: Murdoch University.

SAE INSTITUTE
A world leader in audio engineering, 3D animation, digital filmmaking and music production, SAE Institute is based out of Australia and operates a network of 50 campuses across 23 countries. This is international, creative industries education at its finest. There are several campuses in Asian cities, including Bangkok, Bangalore, Chennai, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Singapore and Yangon. Given its expansive network of campuses, SAE Institute opens up career opportunities for graduates all over the world.

NORTHERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY, SCHOOL OF ART AND DESIGN
Northern Michigan University is a large state school in the US, and its School of Art and Design capitalizes on NMU’s massive campus by offering exciting disciplinary opportunities to its students of art. The school operates 110,000 square feet of studio space in which postgraduate students can undertake projects and hone their skills. Every art student receives an Apple iBook as part of their tuition package.

DUNCAN OF JORDANSTONE COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN
Part of the University of Dundee in Scotland, DJCAD is a leading school of art and design in the UK. The school is well-known both for research and for the quality of work its students and faculty produce. Recently, a Turner Prize for Art has been connected to DJCAD, and the school has been awarded more accolades by the London New Designer expo than any other university in the UK.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE SCHOOLS

ANGLIA RUSKIN UNIVERSITY – FACULTY OF HEALTH, SOCIAL CARE & EDUCATION
With more than 9,000 students, the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Anglia Ruskin University is the largest provider of health, social care and education courses in the East of England. The faculty’s course offerings are impressive, with a wide range of programmes spanning full- and part-time Master of Science and Master of Arts degrees on offer. Research is central to the educational process as Anglia Ruskin University, and the faculty work hard to provide an energetic environment that addresses industry-spanning issues. In sectors as important as healthcare, social care and education, research carried out on university campuses has a profound and very real impact on the lives of everyday citizens, and this makes the experience all the more rewarding for international postgraduate students. They’re learning; they’re gaining marketable experience; and they’re making a difference in the process. Read the full profile here…