IS A FOREIGN MASTERS DEGREE REALLY WORTH IT? MY TAKE!

On my way home yesterday I was listening to the radio and the topic of the day was very interesting. Wanawana was asking if studying for a master’s degree is worth it and she requested that people call to share their opinion. I would have called but …I got home and headed straight for the kitchen. I had Ila Asepo and Amala on my mind so I continued listening while I cooked. 

Shebi September is the time lots of students resume school and those travelling abroad for their masters are probably packing their bags now or still waiting for their acceptance letter or applying for visa. This was me a few years ago. After I finished uni (Igbinedion University) and I finished my NYSC, I had this burning desire to do masters by fire and by force, all my friends had traveled and I felt a masters degree would greatly boost my CV (which is not a lie). How I even got into University of Birmingham was a miracle because it was so impromptu…I applied late, applied for visa late and I resumed when everyone else had resumed so I had to catch up fast!

I studied Mass Communication for my BSc so for my Masters I was told to look for something more “professional”…International Diplomacy sounds like a ghen ghen course abi? Oya oh! I jumped in. Make I nor lie…I struggled through some part of it because I had no back ground knowledge of what I came for. I don’t like politics, I don’t really enjoy discussing governance and all these things. The only part I loved was Ethics and the diplomacy course itself, the rest just flew over my brain. I looked to my classmates for support. Thank God there were about 5 Nigerians in my class: that’s where I met Dide, Amina, Bugo, Evelyn, Fae, Ploy, Windy
In Brussels
In Class L-R Sisi, Bugo, Amina, Evelyne, Dide
All work and no play...
Gerald always knew how to make people laugh...so charismatic!
I miss them!
During my dissertation I was like “who send me message”…chai! I struggled! To God be the glory, I graduated with Merit and I couldn't be prouder of myself. You see, before I went for my masters I was stigmatized because of Igbinedion University. Whenever I told anyone I had a 2:1 they would just be like “yimu, that school that they dash you grades”…it always annoyed me! They didn't dash me grades when I was there so I never understood the backlash. I felt now with my merit from UOB nobody can gaddem claim that they dashed me. So I've validated myself! 
Some of the books I read...
Caught sleeping in the library
Can you spot my name?
Why am I telling you this long story? Because I’m trying to explain the benefits of me going for post graduate studies. Apart from the degree, I enjoyed the immense exposure I got from travelling and being in that city. I traveled from Birmingham to different places outside Britain. I enjoyed the culture.

I've never lived on my own and that was my first experience. UK is not my father’s palour and you have to work for what you want. I got jobs, I worked to enjoy any luxury I wanted, in addition I had good job experience which was difficult to get when I was in Nigeria. I grew up in those years I spent there. I think that was when I discovered myself, and what I love to do. I started blogging because of course I had access to the internet 24/7. I am 100% glad I went to obodo for masters.

If you’re not sure why you want to go for your masters, then you need to think about it some more. It’s a huge financial commitment and if you are struggling financially, I will just beg you to keep calm. Obodo oyibo is not bed of roses for everyone, some people leave Nigeria then go there and do security man job inside otutu (cold winter) just to get by. So think am well. 

If you know you are financially capable, you know what you want out of your time there. Then go for it! Better now than late. Imagine if you're a lady and you push it off till after marriage, it becomes harder then, what if your husband no gree? who will fund it sef? What if you get pregnant? So many questions. If you can, do it now.

A post graduate degree abroad is expensive: so think. Would it be more beneficial to you if you gather that 5 million you want to spend there and start a business in Nigeria? That’s an option you know. Another option is to do your post graduate in a Nigerian University (less expensive). If you do decide to go:
  • Pick a reputable school like my University Of Birmingham (he he he), 
  • Stay out of debt, 
  • Be focused!
In conclusion, there is no right or wrong way about this. You can stay in Nigeria, without a masters degree and make it as a Don Dorobucci, or otherwise. You can travel to obodo oyinbo and it will open gates for you or otherwise. 

I know a lot of Nigerians have their post graduate degree, what was your own experience like? Do you think it was worth it?

Ps. The food I was cooking last night was delicious by the way!


37 comments

  1. that second to last paragraph is me right there. I went to a very good school in Scotland, had I know I would have used that money for some supermarket steez and by now God knows where I would have been. Don't get be wrong, the MSC is totally worth is maybe I'll see that later . I always wanted to buy and sell, I've always seen me as a big supermarket owner. I think I got carried away as everyone was going to do masters and I took all that money and gave oyinbo people chie.. well better late than never I'm in the process is starting the supermarket soon.

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  2. See i got some relatives who schooled abroad and i must tell you that today, they are also job hunting like the rest of their mates who schooled in Naija. abeg visit my blog www.pakogirl.blogspot.com God will help us

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  3. Lol at the last night food part, send me my share o. Great post, this is exactly what I needed as I'm currently trying to decided what and where to study for my Masters degree. Like you, I also studied mass communication. I want to go for masters for the experience, proving myself and of course pay raise. Thanks for this article.

    Princess Audu

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  4. Wow Sisiyemmie this post is so on point. ..I am even packingright now. ... and I am going to get a masters in Information Technology in Bristol. ..I am so excited cos of the prospects modern technology has to offer and the link between technology and organizational progress in general. I had my Bsc degree IN computer science and am so looking forward to what my brain is about to encounter. Thanks for this post ma sure am making the right choice. @layormi

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  5. I think its worth it but then as with everything In life it hs its pros and con's. Luckily in Canada I got a good job and its going well but before I got into paid full time it was unpaid and I had to do part time retail and front desk jobs on the side( it was very hard fot me oh!) Coming from Nigeria with my correct 9-5 and my thing on the side.

    Coming here helped me discover myself, I have met some of the most amazing friends that have become family, I have upped my cooking skills too oh... Lol.

    But it depends on what works for you.

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  6. I’ve got to say it was totally worth it, for me… the entire experience, living in Birmingham, the different cultures, the friends I made, it’s all very priceless…

    It didn’t exactly ‘open doors’ for me like I thought it would…however, it’s been a plus!

    I’m grateful for the opportunity and I won’t trade it for anything. Thank you Dad!!!

    Up UoB :)

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  7. Nice post. Totally apt and in the right direction for our times. The truth is sometimes we can make it here .. some schools are good enough it's just that all employers take your Nigerian degree? Secondly, going abroad exposes you so much that most times you come back and become an entrepreneur. That in my opinion is gooooood education.

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  8. Interesting Post. It is quite debatable. But for me, I think it is a matter of School reputation for the chosen course of study. I happen to have studied MSc Computer security in 2011 from University of Birmingham too, and i can stay it's been my most challenging academic experience till date.So I think studying abroad is worth it even though it could be costly.

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  9. Hey Sisi, thanks for the advice..very well said. You wont believe is just what I've been thinking lately and trying to figure out what to do... but with your write up, now I've got a clearer picture of what to do. Thanks a lot and keep inspiring others. May God continually bless you! xoxo

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  10. Totally agree with everything you've said!

    My going abroad to study was a complete blessing through and through! I met my main squeeze who was studying as well and I found the career I love! Yes, at times it wasn't easy but it was completely worth it! One thing I would say is if one can get some work experience before they leave I think it'd help in making a better decision in the course one decides to study...

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  11. Glad I took the step to come to the UK and get my Masters done, it's put me where I am today...literally! I could not ask for a better outcome, money well spent. However, like you said it can go one way or the other, sit down and count the cost before taking the plunge.

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  12. aww we were in University of Birmingham at the same time, wish i had met you then. schooling in the UK was awesome and i would not trade it for anything. Made awesome friends, met people from different backgrounds and cultures. Different style of teaching also, I learnt to stop cramming and actually apply what i learnt.

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  13. Mine was totally worth it. I was disillusioned with my job of 3 years at the point when I left - it was a choice between a masters degree or a new job & I am glad the masters won.

    The experience - both good & bad is something that can never be bought, worth more than the school fees spent. I blogged about it last year, you can check it out on http://cocosgist.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/caerdydd-memories/

    & lest I forget, it helped me get a real lovely job when I got back though I had to wait a long while before the job materialised...but it was worth it. No regrets going for the masters.

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  14. I totally agree, like you said one must have a reason for doing masters. Not just cos all your friends are doing it. If you feel you are better at running a business or something then commit to that. But then we must always keep learning no matter what we are into
    BeautyGeekng.com

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  15. Great post! I never did my university education in Nigeria as I returned to the UK after secondary school. However , I know a good number of people (family and friends) who came over here to study. As much as it is great to have that exposure educationally and meet people from different cultures, improve the CV and possibly job prospects, I believe its important to also think about the plan on returning to Motherland and how the course studied will be useful for self and economic benefit.
    There is just no point studying abroad and returning to job hunt endlessly....

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  16. Uk education is of excellent quality. British people are cold and some are ignorant but the high standard of teaching and research made my postgraduate education eventful

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  17. Awesome post! Studying for your masters abroad or anywhere is just by the grace of God.However, like you said you have to be financial stable before you can embark on its. Its a good experience for example its enable you to learn about different cultures and ethnicity. My curreny work have sponsored me on my post grad in university of Birmingham,( all glory to baba God). Life is learning experience so enjoy everyday of its knowing God's on your side.@spicebim

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  18. I was on a pre med track in uni.. I counted the cost and never saw myself as a practicing Dr. I borrowed myself brain and saved my parents $80k a year. Got an mph instead as i am passionate abt the health field. I moved to naija only to be told i need a mbbs and mph to get job. At a point my parents even wondered wat kind of degree did i get oh. Eventually i got a job. My brothers and sisters, i quit the job to go into business. My MPH was worth it at the time. If i could combine business and the mph i think i would as i want to still effect positive health changes in the nigerian health system

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    1. i hope you see this message. i think we have the flare as i also have a masters in public health ,although am working in the bank. i still have the passion to go into public health. for further discussion,you email on blessing.oriaku@gmail.com or whatapp me on 08068059426.

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  19. Everytime pple hear d uni I went to and that I had a 2:1 in economics they say i was 'dashed'. #painful I went ahead to do my masters becos my dad (bless him) offered and I knew a great job, marriage, children, if they came along, might make me miss the opportunity. I studied 'Quantitative Development Economics' at Uni of Bristol (great city!!!!) and saw nwii!! It was challenging, many sleepless and cold nights but I made it and it was just me from my course that graduated with merit. #proudofmeself. I became independent and much more confident during that time and learnt so much. That masters degree got me my first job with zero experience at a managerial position that had nothing to do with my course so i'm glad I went for it. I am married with a beautiful baby girl which means my timing was great cos I won't be able to justify leaving my family to study a whole year abroad and at such ridiculous cost!!

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  20. Hmmm..pretty interesting.. me just thinks there's a craze for certificates in Nigeria. Yes a masters abroad is good, but the bottomline just like you said is discovering yourself.

    I am yet to do my masters, i'ld probably do an MBA, because i have a business in the pipeline, and i think an mba will broaden my mind and exposure. Please visit my blog http://proudlywoman.blogspot.com

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  21. u didn't tell us what happened after ur studies, i hav lots of colleague in my office with foreign masters picking calls today and most of them hate it.
    Don't be deceived, a foreign masters rarely gives u any cutting edge in Naija job market....Study for a purpose not for fun or to use as a bragging right

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  22. What can I say? A foreign degree is certainly not for everyone. Pray well for clear direction for your path in life. A graduated from Unicorn BSc Human Anatomy and came to the USA to pursue a degree in Nursing at Howard University DC. I had a great experience because even though I arrived in the US fully prepared to pay the entire tuition, I still enjoyed many scholarships and various stipends. Work was also not a problem on campus. I missed my family of course, but I stayed focused and graduated with a 3.75 Magna Cum Laude. Even as an Intentional Student, I was afforded the opportunity to work for a year before returning to Naija. During that year, I met husband at a conference! He is Nigerian-American and I decided to stay here in the US to build a family together with him! I have no regrets because I now work at one of the Universities here at the cutting edge of research, and happily married with two boys. HOWEVER, I can give you many examples of acquaintances that went abroad to study and now their life is in shambles. On the flip side, I have many friends that chose to remain in Naija and are currently living their dreams...... bottom line, pray hard for direction in every regard.......

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  23. Very timely post Sisi! I have an admission to UCL to study an MSc in Drug Discovery and Development (which I deferred from last year due to lack of funds) and this sentence resonates with me .

    "It’s a huge financial commitment and if you are struggling financially, I will just beg you to keep calm."

    So true. I may have to let the admission go for good (can only defer once) as I still have no money, even after launching an (unsuccessful) indiegog campaign.

    I know for sure that Masters would open so many doors for me and I'm planning to start a business and/or find a new job by year end because this Masters isn't going to fund itself but my heart is at the school ;-(

    I'm simply letting go and letting God. Thank you for this balanced post.

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    1. Have you tried applying for scholarships? Many Universities offer that.
      UCL is a great school, but there are other great schools too....Rather thsn you defering, I'll suggest you apply for scholarships. God help and bless you. Amen

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  24. Awww, I pray you don't have to let go of your admission at UCL (it's a great Uni). I just completed my masters at LSE last month as well and I really wanted a scholarship, but I didn't get one.

    Have you exhausted all your funding options? Have you spoken to UCL about it? Send them an email detailing how much you want to study there, the measures you've taken to secure funding for yourself and the value the degree will add to you. I sent an email like this to the programme director and she did try to help out, but at the time I sent it, it was quite late and pretty much all the scholarships had been awarded. It seemed to me like, if I had sent it earlier, I'll definitely have gotten funding.

    I just realised that's it's October now and admissions would have closed, so this advise is probably no longer needed.

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  25. Thank you for this beautifully written insightful information about education abroad.

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  26. Ha Sisi Yemmie, this post was very well-timed. I'm currently waiting to serve and I've always nursed a desire to do a masters course abroad. First it was the experience and later because my sister has been doing ordinary masters for close to two years now in the University of Uyo. I can't deal with that stress abeg. However, when I think of the financing and the chances of getting a scholarship (as I didn't make the first class I was fighting tooth and nail for na), I get discouraged...
    I guess I'll just wait till after NYSC to see how things go.

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    1. Hello, try applying to schools in the US, UK will take everything from you with nothing to give you in return. In US or Canada you have a chance to get funded. This funding comes inform of Research assistant of teaching assistant or administrative assistant. I have friends that finished from Nigeria with 3.5 - 4.0 cgpa , doing masters in the US with tuition waiver and been paid a stipend every month. Done limit yourself, dont give up. You will need to write GRE and maybe Toefl to have a chance at funding in the US. If you need any material or further info, let me now

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  27. Hello Taye Ojo i am very much interested and need more info about the whole scholarship thing here is my email address please get in touch with me efejay01@gmail.com. Thanks alot.

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    1. what schools in the US ? i am a Nigerian canadian and would love to get a graduate degree but i don't have the funds. please I would like to know of any american universities with tuition waivers etc . My email is pearl080233@gmail.com. Thank you

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    2. Me too, Pls forward the materials to eoluseye@yahoo.co.uk

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  28. Thanks Sisi for this post. To be honest if given the opportunity again I would get a foriegn masters degree again. The depth of exposure and teaching is so different from home. I learnt so much within the time frame that I had no opportunity whworking back home. I just wish ours'could be better. Sincerely it is a good experience and I also had the opportunity to work. If you can afford it please go for it.

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  29. For me,no matter where you go to school,it's the grace of God that matters. lekanij04i@yahoo.com

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Your comments are like delicious grains of jollof rice to me: please feed me! Send me love mail sisi@sisiyemmie.com / Official business@sisiyemmie.com

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