You might have completed your Bachelor’s Degree and realize that the job market is not looking for the skills you have gained during your undergraduate studies. Or you have been working for a few years and realize that your goals are now different and a career change is due. Either way, in whichever group of people you are, you might be looking to gain new skills without actually completing a whole new degree.
Conversion courses are an opportunity for people to change their careers. They are intense postgraduate conversion courses which equip student with new skills and open new paths for their career. Postgraduate courses are also for those who have completed their undergraduate studies, but feel like there is more to learn so they take them in order to increase their skills and knowledge.
These courses are usually one year or more depending on the field and mode of study, but at the end of them you will get a certificate which you can use as proof of qualification for job applications. You can use your graduate conversion courses to only further or change your career or you can also use them to begin a more advanced degree such as a master’s or a doctoral program.
This article will go through various topics about conversion courses in the United Kingdom and Ireland such as:
- Why take a conversion course?
- Structure of conversion courses
- Requirements for conversion courses
- How to apply for a conversion course?
- What is the cost of conversion courses?
- Types of conversion courses
- How to choose a conversion course?
Why Take A Conversion Course?
A conversion course can be quite beneficial for the student who enrolls in them. They can bring benefits such as:
- New career opportunities
- Promotion possibilities
- Potential for increase in income/salary
- Professional advancement
Students who take graduate conversion courses might be on the way for a promotion, but they lack a certain qualification or are not feeling fulfilled by their current job and want to completely change careers. However, if you are feeling reluctant and cannot decide whether to take conversion course or not, you could decide by considering the following factors:
- Is the course required for the job you want?
- Will it land you the promotion you are seeking?
- How has it benefited previous alumni?
- Could it be used to gain a more advanced degree?
If the answers to these questions are favorable, then you can proceed to see other aspects of graduate conversion courses and decide where to enroll.
Structure Of Conversion Courses
The structure of postgraduate conversion courses can be different and it depends on the individual. If you are someone who has absolutely no background in your new field of study, then the conversion course will most likely start from the very basics and be longer. If you are already a little familiar with the topic, the course will cover more advanced concepts and will be shorter.
Based on the length of study, graduate conversion courses can be classified as:
- Full time – these courses are for those who do not have other obligations and can commit to attending full time conversion courses. This is usually the option which students who have recently completed their undergraduate degrees take since they might not be employed.
- Part time – is the type of conversion course that most working people choose, since they do not have the time and cannot afford to quit their jobs to focus only on studying. The part time conversion courses take longer to complete due to the lighter workload.
- Fast track – are such courses that are intense and are completed within a short and condensed time span. If the full time course is one year, then the fast track will most likely be completed within 6 months. This type of conversion course is mostly for working professionals who are looking to complete the courses as fast as possible since they might be waiting for a promotion or want to become involved in the job market faster.
Whichever option you choose for the length of the course is up to you, but all types involve and are assessed through the following methods:
- Lectures and seminars
- Exams and projects
- Practical work
These methods of study are designed to prepare students to become employed in the new profession or field.
Requirements For Conversion Courses
To qualify for enrolling into a UK or Ireland postgraduate conversion course you need to at least have completed a second class honors degree. This degree is what the UK and Ireland students call a 2:1 honors degree.
If you are an international student and are unsure whether your degree is the equivalent of a 2:1 honors degree, check with UK National Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC). UK NARIC will inform you whether your undergraduate degree is considered the same in the UK educational system.
Besides the Bachelor’s Degree requirements, there is no other universal requirement for conversion courses. Each institution and course set their own expectations about what qualifications students should have.
If you are, for example interested in a science related conversion course, the institution might require that you have some previous experience or academic qualification in science. This is not always the case, though, as sometimes, depending on the curriculum of the course, you might be allowed to enroll without any previous experience.
For all other requirements, you should identify the conversion courses you want to take and contact the institutions to check if you meet all criteria.
How To Apply For A Conversion Course?
In general, there is no exact universal manner through which you can apply for conversion courses. Based on the institutions that you select, you can go to their websites or contact their representatives and ask for more details. They might have application forms and documents which you need to submit that are also determined by your choice of field in a conversion course.
To find universities which offer postgraduate conversion courses in the UK and Ireland, there are websites which have compiled a list of different programs.
- In Ireland, you can use GradIreland
- In the UK, you can use prospects.ac.uk, targetpostgrad.com, and postgraduatesearch.com
Besides offering you an overview of the possible conversion courses you can take, they also offer funding opportunities.
What Is The Cost Of Conversion Courses?
The cost of conversion courses depends on the type of course you select. More advanced and longer courses will logically cost more. If you select, for example a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at the University of London, it will cost around £10,000. But if you want to complete your GDL at De Montfort University, it will cost you £5,750. So as you can see, the institution where you complete your course is also highly important in determining the costs.
Since you are completing graduate conversion courses to increase your potential and employability, you can also find different sources of funding.
In Ireland, the government has started a program which funds a part of the postgraduate conversion courses. They have a list of selected universities such as Dublin City University, NUI Galway, NCAD and others. If you choose a conversion course from those institutions, they will fund part of your tuition. You can find more information about the funding scheme here.
In addition, if you are currently employed, you can check whether your employer funds additional education for employees. Many employers invest in the capacity of their companies and they might be willing to pay the tuition for your conversion course on the condition that you continue your employment contract for a specified time.
Types Of Conversion Courses
Just like full master’s or doctoral degrees, conversion courses are also given in a variety of subjects. Each one opens a lot of career opportunities and can lead to a higher salary. Some of the more popular choices for postgraduate conversion courses are as follows:
In order to qualify as a teacher without actually completing the whole degree, you can take conversion courses which can be:
- Professional Masters in Education (PME) – a two year full time course to become a teacher in Ireland and the UK
- Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) – to qualify in Northern Ireland
With these conversion courses you will not be constrained to only teaching in the UK and Ireland, but they are also accepted in all English speaking countries and across Europe.
Information Technology (IT)
IT has become a highly sought after conversion course, since it has such a wide applicability. There are also different specializations within the IT conversion courses which students can choose to take, ranging from business to computer science or engineering. Some institutions might require previous experience in IT or to have a background and know the basic concepts, but most of them will not have prerequisites.
A conversion course in IT will make you a valuable employee in the increasingly technologically connected world. You will be able to work in many different industries and there is no lack of jobs in this sector. Most courses take one year to complete, but you can get the certificate in less or more time depending on your needs.
To become a specialized expert in this field, you can also combine your undergraduate degree with an IT conversion course, for example, economics and IT, or chemistry and IT so that you can have more skills and find a job easier.
Student aiming to work as barristers or solicitors do not necessarily need to go to law school. They could take a conversion course and be qualified to practice. The law conversion courses could also prepare you to take other more advanced courses and get a degree in law. Common law conversion courses are:
- Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)
- Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) for barristers
- Legal Practice Course (LPC) for solicitors
Since medical school in general is long and takes years to complete, the conversion course for medicine is longer than other conversion courses. If you take the fast track mode of study, you might be able to complete this course in four years.
Many medical schools give conversion courses and while some require some scientific background in biology, for example, others will accept students from any background. At the end of the conversion course, you might also be required to enter any state medical exams to become certified.
There are also multiple conversion courses for business and economics, with the most popular being the MBA. The Masters of Business Administration is also regarded as a master’s degree, but students can choose a few courses and not complete a capstone or thesis so that they get the certification.
The conversion courses usually take a year full time or two years as part time to complete. However, most institutions will require a few years of relevant work experience to allow students to enroll in the business graduate conversion courses.
Psychology degrees in the UK and Ireland are accredited by the British Psychology Society (BSP) so if you don’t have such a degree, you can take a conversion course to become certified in the field. The Graduate Diploma in Psychology (GDP) or Higher Diploma in Psychology are one year courses which will qualify you to practice the profession even if you don’t have previous experience.
Besides these subjects, conversion courses could be taken in fields such as:
- Property Conversion
- Social Work
- Marketing, etc.
How To Choose A Conversion Course?
Choosing a conversion course is highly important as it determines your future and career. There are various ways you can go about selecting the appropriate course for you, but some tips include:
- Find courses the content of which matches your needs
- Check the accreditation of the institutions
- Talk to alumni and other students to get a sense of what opportunities await after graduation
- Inquire about the admissions requirements and length of program
- Look for funding and scholarship opportunities
- Prepare a strong application and statement of purpose