A Humanities Degree Is a Good Idea

images-4Let’s face it: humanities degrees get a bad rap. In fact, the mere mention of the word “humanities” — defined by Stanford University as “the study of how people process and document the human experience” — brings to mind another four-syllabic word for many people: “unemployment.” But do these stereotypes hold up in the real world? In short: No. Read on to learn four reasons why a humanities degree may be the right choice for you.

1. Develop Creative and Critical Thinking Skills

Creativity leads to ideas and innovation. Critical thinking fosters execution and implementation. While both play invaluable roles in moving the world forward, their fusion achieves true synergy. Enter the humanities-based education.

Think about it. Our complex world requires people with the ability to think logically and objectively about subjective information in order to derive new levels of understanding. But what good is understanding without the ability to also think creatively toward solutions for the ongoing challenges we face as a society?  Even in matters of science, scholars are increasingly pointing to the importance of the study of human behavior in answering the toughest questions.

The takeaway? Within the context of humanities studies, critical thinking and creativity are two sides to a priceless coin.

  2. A Fulfilling Career And a Not-So-Shabby Paycheck?

Sure you could choose a career entirely because the money’s good, but where’s the personal fulfillment in that? A degree in the humanities, meanwhile, offers entry into a number of careers where people make a difference every single day. From teachers, artists and counselors to linguists, writers, and marketers, humanities majors and minors can be found in all walks of life. Why? Because the skills and knowledge acquired in humanities study surpass the barriers of discipline and can be applied to nearly any career or context.

Now consider that a whopping two-thirds of humanities majors go on to work in the private sector, and the majority of CEOs studied in the humanities. These figures are likely to grow when you factor in the rise of multidisciplinary studies between humanities studies and more traditionally lucrative fields, such as medicine, business, and law. Not to mention employment rates for humanities majors — many in some of the economy’s most quickly growing fields — comparable to employment rate for grads with non-humanities degrees.

And what if we told you that humanities salaries are actually higher than you think they are? That’s precisely what the latest report from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences suggests. Released earlier this month, the study rebuts common misconceptions about humanities salaries to reveal that humanities majors earn more on average than the average American worker. While there’s a slight lag behind those at similar degree levels, the difference is minor and narrows with age.

And then there’s that whole personal satisfaction thing that goes along with choosing a career of great societal consequence. Ultimately, salary is only part of the comprehensive “compensation” earned by people with humanities degrees.

  3. Outthink the Machines

Machines may be pushing the frontiers of science, but they’ll never replace free thought, nor the need for human interaction. Despite scientific advancements and the juggernaut of modern technology, we still live in a service economy in which the majority of the world’s jobs still require a human element. Ultimately, while coders and number crunchers may face a threat from machines in the future, plenty of jobs will remain for people skilled at doing things machines simply cannot do.

  4. Make More of Your Major

Stevens Institute of Technology instructor John Horgan writes that in our science-dominated, certainty-rooted world, humanities leave room for an oft-undervalued commodity: uncertainty, and the truth it aims to discover. His assertion? “It is precisely because science is so powerful that we need the humanities now more than ever.” In other words, while science and technology may be in a state of flux, the humanities transcends these changes to remain checkpoint and lodestar.

Still not convinced? Well, what if we told you that a minor in the humanities offers all of these benefits — perhaps even more when studied alongside an alternate field? When merged with another course of study, a humanities minor has the power to amplify the value of your degree.

There are many schools and universities across the globe offering programs in the Humanities: from France to the USA, Germany to the UK, and many more. Faculties, like the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Strathclyde, are renowned for their high quality programs across a wide spectrum of disciplines as well as for their professional approach of the Humanities.

The Role of Students in Environmental

images-5Earlier this fall, Sweden’s Umeå University announced a scientific breakthrough related to the potential of ionic liquids as solvents. Published in the journal ChemSusChem, these findings are of interest for several reasons. Of course, there’s the fact that this advancement yields new and valuable insights into “enzymatic refinement of cellulose to precious molecules and industrial products.” This has numerous applications, including in the production of ethanol as fuel, which has the potential to significantly reduce oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions.

But equally as interesting is the pivotal role students played in Umeå’s achievement, in addition to as as part of the teams that drive discovery in environmental research at universities around the world. Whether you’re just beginning to develop your knowledge of the changing environment and steps which can be taken to help safeguard it as a bachelor’s degree student or you’re pursuing advanced studies and research as a master’s degree or doctoral student, there are many paths to making a difference as an environmental researcher.

The Backstory

Our future well-being as people on this planet depends critically on the well-being of the natural systems around us. And while policy development and management are certainly important factors in protecting clean air, water, and other natural resources, another factor also comes into play: scientific knowledge.

With climate change and global sustainability challenges looming ahead, environmental research innovation will play a critical role in helping the world’s biological systems, communities and industries adapt, prevent further loss, and survive in a way beneficial to human life.

As with the important work coming out of Umeå, universities in all corners of the planet are leading the charge when it comes to addressing the world’s most topical environmental issues. Scientists and researchers not only play a critical role in identifying the concerns which face society both now and in the future, but also in developing interventions to mitigate human impacts.

The Field of Environmental Research

With more challenges facing the world than ever before, the need for solutions is increasingly paramount. The task is anything but simple: not only are current consequences difficult to reverse, but doing so also involves acknowledging and integrating a broad range of social, economic and political contexts.

Accordingly, degrees in environmental research cover equally dynamic topic, including the geological, biological and chemical processes which impact the environment, as well as how they come into play in the world around us (climate change, pollution control, population dynamics, ecosystems and biodiversity, etc.). Students and researchers also have plenty of opportunities to practice — both inside the lab and out in the field.

Why Environmental Research May Be Right For You

Image courtesy of Umeå Univeristy

All academic degrees offer the opportunity to expand your knowledge and make a difference. However, there’s arguably no path more meaningful at this current juncture in human history than environmental studies.

While the challenges are profound, so are the opportunities: environmental research advancements are happening every day at lightning speed. As a student and researcher in this field, you’ll have plenty of space to innovate — in academia or in another environment-related sector. Because while environmental research is comparatively new as a dedicated field of study, it is at the top of the list when it comes to disciplines with relevant and topical real-world applications. And as the recent news from Sweden demonstrates, you don’t have to wait to graduate to start making a difference. Research opportunities exist for students at all levels which allow them to get their hands dirty while getting the planet clean.

Image courtesy of Umeå Tomoya Suzuki

Not to mention that these issues aren’t going away anytime soon. The takeaway for today’s career-minded students? There are plenty of jobs to be found. In fact, the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook reveals that jobs for environmental scientists and specialists have a projected growth rate of 15 percent for the years between 2012 and 2022 — easily outpacing the average for all professions.

One final morsel of food for thought? American Professor of Environmental Science and Policy Rob Sanford once pointed out that, “From an environmental standpoint, the planet doesn’t care if humans are here or not.”  In other words, while the concept of “saving the planet” may be somewhat misguided when viewed through this lens, there’s another very real imperative for today’s environmental researchers: to make our lives more sustainable not just as an overarching concept, but also in terms of our own personal ideals, priorities, and how we choose to live our lives.

Consider a Masters in Professional Studies

images-6Master’s degrees are increasingly common – a report published in 2015 predicted that by 2022, at least 60% of all awarded degrees will be at the master’s level. But the same report also indicated that the growth may not come from traditional master’s programs. Instead, the rise in MPS, or Master’s of Professional Studies degrees, could be the biggest contributor to the increased number of post-graduates. But what is an MPS?

Unlike a traditional MA or MS, which focus on broad knowledge in a research subject, MPS degrees are typically interdisciplinary studies aimed at a particular industry or applied field of study. MPS degrees are also more ‘hands-on’ than other master’s programs and frequently require some form of internship or work-study. Schools around the world are seeing a spike in applications for and interest in MPS degrees because of the demands of the increasingly diversified and specialized job market. MPS in subjects like emergency management, international relations, cybernetics, and human rights all give students skills that apply directly to gaps in established career-fields and expertise for emerging industries. And while undergraduates can transition directly into MPS programs, they are frequently geared towards professionals who want to develop or change their careers. This makes MPS programs more flexible than other traditional master’s degrees. So how can an MPS help you? Here are three good reasons.

1. They’re practical

While traditional master’s programs will give you a solid understanding of theories and excellent research skills, an MPS focuses on practical skills that apply directly to a specific job. This means they’re a great option for someone who knows precisely the career field, job, or even department they hope to enter. A traditional MA or MS is great if you’re hoping to earn a PhD, but an MPS is better if you want career advancement in a marketing firm, or to jump into an emerging technological industry. MPS degrees are also a great way to make a general BA or BS degree work in a specific field – for instance, if you majored in history, consider an MPS in Museum Studies.

2. They’re flexible and focused

Because MPS students tend to be established professionals hoping to climb the career ladder or change professions, MPS studies are often very flexible. They cater to working professionals and frequently offer online or evening courses. Instructors are usually professionals in the specific field, so classes and coursework can give opportunities for networking, hands-on experience, and even job opportunities. And since MPS programs are designed around specific skill-sets, most include some form of field work, which gives you the opportunity to test-drive your new skills and focus on areas that apply to your interests and strengths.

3. They’re growing in popularity

As we mentioned, master’s degrees could make up two-thirds of degrees in the next decade, and with MPS degrees leading the way, you might find that honed and industry-specific skills are in even higher demand. The world of industry and development grows more diversified by the minute, and broad knowledge and a diploma will no longer guarantee you your dream job. Starting an MPS now could put you ahead of the game in five or ten years time. Who knows, by 2025, you could be offering your career expertise to incoming MPS students.

A Brief Rundown of Technology

Benefits of Employing Virtual Private Servers Since the invention of the internet, the world has seen many new innovations. The internet is still developing and as far as the capabilities of the online world there is no telling what the future holds. Numerous opportunities await anyone who is willing to try out what the internet has to offer. The advantages are limitless, from data storage, to online businesses and information processing, there is just so much going on online. Unfortunately, with anything that has an advantage, there most often lurk a few disadvantages. This is with regard to blogs and websites of course. You might have a bit of a challenge with scaling and flexibility especially if you are on a shared hosting platform. This is why most people are choosing to go for servers that are being hosted privately. Below are some of the reasons why virtual private servers are becoming extremely popular by the day. A more Reliable and Stable Platform for Basic Hosting Requirements Many hosting companies serve many clients. This means that many websites are buying the server services of these providers in the thousands, something that has increasingly caused diminished reliability for prospective clients. If your website has been hosted on the same server as many others, it affects both the performance and the website uptime. Because may other sites are on the same platform being used simultaneously you are probably likely to experience some glitches. If anyone with a tiny fraction of programing knowledge hacked into the site servers hosting your site, it could be at risk of collapsing.
5 Takeaways That I Learned About Servers
It Gives More Control
5 Takeaways That I Learned About Servers
This happens to be one of the best parts of being hosted privately. You get to have complete root control of your hosting environment. This is great because it gives you the advantage of running software without necessarily requiring the approval of the hosting server. Shared servers are strict on security and because of this running specific software can be a headache. Virtual private hosting services are much more flexible when it comes to such things. Environmentally Friendly Over the last few years, there has been more awareness creation on environmental issues. Many technologies have been created to facilitate a more conservative and sustainable method of development. Each individual has a responsibility to play a certain role in conserving the environment. Green hosting has thus become very popular. Dedicated server hosting is more expensive and costs the environment more because one person uses up all the energy that is channeled towards the server. However, with private virtual servers a big virtual server is separated into various virtual environments. As such, more people are able to stake the resources from as specific physical server.

Top Cities to Study in France

No one can deny the many inimitable charms of Paris. It’s not surprising that the City of Lights tops so many lists of France’s best cities for international students. But the allures of this sublime city are no reason to overlook France’s many amazing offerings. Let’s count down several of France’s other extraordinary destinations for international students.

  1. Toulouse

With a reasonable cost of living, exceptional geographic location with easy access to both the ocean and the mountains; and multiple top-ranked universities, it’s no surprise that France’s fourth biggest city — dubbed the “Pink City” for its brick-clay colors — is attractive to so many international students.

An added bonus for history buffs?  Toulouse is home to one of the world’s oldest university systems, dating all the way back to the 13th century. And while all of Toulouse’s academic offerings are strong, aerospace enthusiasts have particular incentive to visit: it considered by many to be the epicenter of the European aerospace industry. Indeed, you will find schools such as the National School for Civil Aviation, ENAC, as weel as Polytechnique, INP Toulouse.

  2. Grenoble

A frequent contender alongside Toulouse as a top international French study destination, Grenoble’s scenery offers enough incentive on is own. Nestled at the base of the French Alps, this alpine city is extraordinarily beautiful with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains, and yet with easy access to other premiere destinations, including Paris, Italy and Switzerland. Because of its location, Grenoble also draws a large number of international faculty and staff — making for a particularly diverse academic community.

Widely considered a terrific place to learn French, Grenoble is also known for it welcoming people, bustling city center, and fine outdoor activities. (Skiers, hikers and bikers will all find plenty to do here.)

  3. Lille

While lacking the same buzz as French cities like Paris, Toulouse and Grenoble, Lille was recently declared to be “France’s most underrated city.” Located in France’s northern region, Lille has also earned the distinction of being home to the country’s most cheerful people. That might have something to do its unbeatable location, which grants residents access to Brussels in 35 minutes, Paris in an hour, and London in under an hour and a half.

Factor in Lille’s vibrant culture known for its extraordinary architecture and the world-famous Palais des Beaux-Arts museum, and it’s no surprise that more international students are discovering this oft-overlooked destination.

4. Bordeaux

Located in France’s stunning Aquitaine region, Bordeaux — a UNESCO world heritage site — has been described as “an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble.”  And while wine may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this well-known region, the local libations are just one thing on a very long list of reasons to study in Bordeaux. A strong public transportation system, status as a player on the European technology scene, close proximity to sunny beaches, and popular football and rugby teams are just a few more of Bordeaux’s appeals.

And then there’s Bordeaux’s academic offerings. A commitment to cutting-edge research, multidisciplinary study programs, and exceptional faculty and staff combine to make Bordeaux a prestigious higher education destination. Bordeaux’s commitment to welcoming foreign students is demonstrated by its breadth and depth of international study programs as well as more than 250 partnerships with universities across the globe.

How To Find Collegiate Traditions Around the World

Between acclimating to life in a completely new environment to dealing with rigorous academic requirements, college can be stressful.  Many students find balance by participating in organized activities, such as sports and clubs. Others spend time with friends and family. Still others turn to exercise, yoga, and meditation. For some students, however, the phrase “letting off steam” ventures into unexpected — and sometimes wild — territory. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the most unusual collegiate traditions found around the globe.

Screaming Swedes

While listening to the eight-minute long collective howling of 2,000 university students may not be part of your bedtime ritual, it is exactly that for many Swedes thanks to a local university tradition. While no one knows exactly how or why the phenomenon started, some attribute it to the need to release exam-related pressure.

So what happens exactly? Every night when the clock strikes 10pm, Swedish students open their windows or steps out onto roofs and balconies to send forth roars into the night. And while this tradition is believed to have started in the university town of Flogsta, it has since spread to Lund, Linköping and Stockholm.

The takeaway for students visitors to Sweden? In addition to academic enrichment for your brain, your pipes will also get a workout. Early-to-bed, early-to-rise types, however, may want to invest in a pair of earplugs.

A Different Kind of “Fancy Dress” in Finland

Coveralls, also called “boiler suits”, may be a hit on the latest red carpets and fashion runways, but college students in Finland have been working this look at parties for more than half a century. Back in the 1960s, Finnish engineering students donned this type of protective safety clothing before conducting on-site visits. Over time, this practice evolved to be more fun than functional.

Today, frolicking students wear different colored coveralls to signify affiliations with certain fields of study or organizations. And because they’re a form of expression, they come in a broad range of fanciful colors and styles. Additionally, they’re subject to further decoration at the whim of student wearers over their four years of use.

How popular are these boiler suits? Many student organizations sell them to incoming freshman! And while Finland is best known for this tradition, is also popular in Canada and Sweden.

India’s Peculiar Patchwork

India may produce a significant portion of the world’s most sought-after future workforce members, but its students are not all work and no play. In fact, India’s universities are home to a number of different collegiate traditions. Want to improve your sexual prospects? Pay homage to the “Virgin Tree.” Safeguard yourself from failing out of school? Don’t sit on the infamous Arrear stone.

And then there’s that whole “mosquito bat dance” thing in which students have turned warding off the pesky local insects into a dance move, thereby giving whole new meaning to the expression, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

The list of Indian college campus traditions goes on and on. In other words, if India is your international study destination, be prepared to work, but to play, too.

The U.S.: No Stranger to Strange Traditions

It’s not exactly surprising that the U.S. would have a “go big or go home” attitude when it comes to student traditions.  P ractically every one of its more than 5,000 colleges and universities has student traditions of its own, although they vary in terms of level of extremity…and legality. (Here’s a hint: many of them involve naked running through quads, dorms, streets and other campus byways.)

So what are American students up to these days? From stealing cemetery sod from sports rivals and rubbing various body parts of statues for good luck to bedecking campus trees with shoes and building and parading dragon structures around campus, American students keep themselves quite busy keeping up with local traditions. Or what about an entire day dedicated to celebrating nitrogen or an entire night committed to preventing other students from studying for their infamously difficult organic chemistry exams? And did we mention the “quiet clubbing” phenomenon in which students wear wireless headphones to dance the night away in a silent room?

One thing to keep in mind: just as visiting the U.S. feels very different depending on your specific destination, so do these traditions vary widely from campus to campus.

Solving the Equation Through Islamic Finance

Evolved to meet the ethical requirements of Muslims as an alternative to conventional financial practices, Islamic finance is inextricably interwoven with Islamic ethics and the ages-old imperatives of morality, fairness and equality. And while Islamic finance may not currently stand front and center on the global international finance stage, its potential influence and impact is significant. Wondering why Islamic finance is so important in contemporary society? Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding the Current Thinking in Finance

While Islamic finance may stand separate from conventional finance, the latest thinking in the world of finance at large increasingly places a high value on ethics. In fact, following the financial crisis of the first decade of the 2000s, business school students cited social responsibility as an integral part of b-school, leading many business schools around the world to respond by integrating ethical components into their curricula. The goal? To train students with “big picture” perspective of the world aimed not just at making money, but at making meaningful change.

In short, the next generation of business leaders has witnessed first-hand the fallout of a finance system short on ethics, and they want something different. Enter ethical banking. Also called alternative, civic, social or sustainable banking, this movement brings previously marginalized factors like social responsibility and environmental consciousness to the forefront of investment and loan practices.

The Role of Islamic Finance

So how does Islamic finance factor in? In order to understand Islamic finance, its first important to realize that Islam is not just a religion, it’s also a way of life which transcends religion to unilaterally affect political, economic, and social spheres. In fact, Muslims approach every aspect of their lives according to the Islamic code of sharia. This includes financial practices.

Comprising banks, investment firms, capital markets, fund managers and other components of the conventional financial system, Islamic finance also shares many of the same operational practices. However, the ways in which these entities are governed is very different. Why? Because above all else they’re guided by the core concepts of Islam. Economic activity can very much thrive within the Islamic financial system so long as acts remain compliant to Islamic laws.

Specifically, key practices of Islamic finance focus on promoting social justice, including the distribution of wealth through property taxes (zakat); defined state obligations; the prohibition of interest-based transactions and gambling; and the benefits of risk-sharing.

You don’t need to be Muslim to recognize the value in these practices — designed not only to serve the real economy, but also the planet and the people who populate it. And with a worldwide push toward more ethical capitalism and a rise in social entrepreneurship well underway, Islamic finance offers both a time-tested model and bridge to sought-after change.

Careers in Islamic Finance

The projected value of the Islamic finance services industry around the globe is projected to reach a staggering $4 trillion by the year 2020, and the presence of Islamic financial institutions continues to grow. Factor in a reported 55 percent leap in savings account applications to The Islamic Bank of Britain in the wake of 2013’s Barclays scandal, and the rising demand for both Muslims and non-Muslims with advanced knowledge of Islamic and ethical finance is undeniable.

If you have a knack for numbers, drive toward innovation, and commitment to principles of social justice, a career in Islamic Finance may be right for you. But how do you get to there from here? With a degree from the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF).

Now in its tenth year of operation, INCEIF has not only experienced rapid growth, but also lays claim to being the world’s only university focused on providing postgraduate studies in the up and coming field of Islamic finance. Top faculty and a cutting edge campus adjacent to CNN-declared “finance hub of the future” Kuala Lumpur make INCEIF degrees in Islamic finance an even greater commodity.

Should You Choose a Small City School

When most students think about studying and traveling abroad, they think in terms of big cities – New York, Paris, Rome, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sydney, and many more. This isn’t surprising – most big or capital cities serve as icons for countries and cultures, and there are many reasons to visit big cities. But anyone who has spent time abroad will likely tell you that it isn’t until you get outside the big cities that you get a real sense of a place and culture. And isn’t that what studying abroad is all about? So, if whether you’re planning a semester, a year, or a full degree abroad, here are five good reasons to consider a small-town school for your studies.

  1. You’ll spend less money

Let’s face it: university is expensive and studying abroad isn’t cheap. Even if you choose a tuition-exchange program or earn a scholarship, you’ll still need to live, eat, and explore during your time abroad. It may be tempting to choose a big city, but the reality is that housing in big cities is expensive and hard to find. In a small city, you’ll be more likely to find affordable, attractive, and central housing, which means you’ll have more time and money to enjoy what the city has to offer, or to travel to the bigger cities you want to visit. Here are a few other ways small cities can help you save money:

·  Small cities with airports are often hubs for low-flight airlines

·  Small cities often rely on their student populations, so there are loads of opportunities, deals, and events aimed at students

·   Big cities are expensive – whether you’re paying for rent, a cup of coffee, or a cinema ticket, expect a higher price in a big city

2. You can be close to nature

Sometimes you need to get away from it all, and while parks and green spaces are nice, they can’t replace real, untouched nature. Small cities are often close to forests, beaches, farmland, or mountains and getting out of the city for a hike or a day at the beach should be relatively easy. Find out where the locals go, or join an outdoor-activity club.

3. You can get in touch with locals

You might think that you’ll experience a country by living in its capital, but the fact is that apart from their landmarks, big cities can be generically international. If you truly want to experience a country’s culture, or if your goal is to learn a foreign language, living outside a major city is a better option. In a small city or town, you’ll have more opportunities to interact (and speak) with locals. Small towns are more likely to represent the normal lifestyle of a country, and you’ll probably have a chance to do things that only locals would do – visit a local artist’s gallery, taste a regional delicacy, try folk dancing…the possibilities are endless.

4. A small city doesn’t mean a boring city

In fact, it’s big cities that can often feel mundane. Big cities may offer variety, but it’s not all unique and the logistics of a big city can make it nearly impossible to do everything…or anything. Lots of students in big cities report that, after the initial excitement, they focus their activities in their neighborhood and only explore the rest of the city when friends or family come to visit. Small cities are normally easy to navigate and have shops, museums, entertainment, and restaurants in proximity to each other. Plus, since you’re able to afford more central accommodations in small cities, you’re more likely to be close to all the excitement.

Image courtesy of William Paterson University

5. You’ll still be close to the big cities

Living and studying in a small city doesn’t mean that you can’t experience a big city. Consider William Paterson University in Wayne and North Haledon, New Jersey (WP).  WP offers a top-rate education on a beautiful, wooded campus, where students have access to community activities, comprehensive counseling and guidance, personal instruction in small classes, and a close-knit student population. In fact, because WP serves as a cultural and athletic hub for the local communities and is only minutes from the historic and stunning Paterson Great Falls National Park, students hardly need to look further than the campus and surrounding area. But WP is also only thirty kilometers from one of the largest cities in the world – New York City. WP students won’t have to venture far from their spacious and affordable campus apartments to have access to all that the city has to offer as well – culture, night-life, shopping, and career connections. WP is proof that small-city colleges and universities have lots to offer, both for domestic and international students. So, if you’re considering a study abroad experience, give a small-town school like WP a chance!

Whatsthe best program study

There are practically infinite master’s degree options available around the world. In fact, whatever your interests or career aspirations, there is a program that will work for you. However, it’s not just a matter of deciding on a discipline, but also about whether a one-year or two-year course of study best suits your needs. We’re here to help with a roundup of the pros and cons of each.

The One-Year Master’s Degree Program

While a bachelor’s degree demonstrates proficiency in an academic area, a master’s degree signifies expertise. Think expertise can’t be attained in a single year? Think again. While there’s no arguing that one-year master’s degrees are intensive, in many cases they’re also the quickest path to reaching your goals. So what are the specific benefits of one-year master’s degree programs?

1. They’re Employment-Friendly

If you’re already a member of the workforce, taking two years off for graduate school can seem like a lengthy detour. One year, however, affords you the same opportunity for advancing your career without missing two years of working. In some cases, your employer may even be willing to hold your job while you’re gone, the chances of which are much less likely for two-year programs.

2. They’re Cost-Friendly

There are many reasons to get a master’s degree. That said, they’re also expensive, making them a difficult sell when it’s impossible to definitively quantify ROI. So what’s a master’s degree-minded, budget-conscious prospective student to do? One-year master’s degree programs offer appealing middle-ground: all of the advantages of an advanced degree at a fraction of the cost.

3. They Have Transformative Potential for Your Resume

Master’s degrees can be an invaluable differentiator in a crowded and competitive job market. While adding skills, job responsibilities and other talents add appeal to your resume, a master’s degree is more than a mere line item. Rather, it has the power to transform your candidacy. When time is of the essence, there’s no more efficient way to accomplish this goal than by enrolling in a one-year master’s degree program.

By now this all sounds pretty good, right? But before you sign on, it’s also important to keep the downsides of one-year master’s degree programs in mind, including the following:

1. They Offer Specialized Knowledge, But In a Hurry

Even if it was possible for a one-year master’s degree to convey as much knowledge and expertise as a two-year program, the pace will be significantly faster. For some students, this means taking less material in; for other, it leads to a much more demanding study environment. Conversely, a two-year master’s degree program gives you the time to thoroughly cover all materials in a less stressful setting.

2. Fewer Networking Opportunities

The connections you make in graduate school will stay with your throughout your life. Attending grad school for just one year shortens the time you’ll have to make and develop these connections. A shorter period of study can also impact your future references: will your teachers get to know you and your work well enough to speak on your behalf in the future?

The Two-Year Master’s Degree Program

While a two-year master’s degree covers the same material as a one-year program, it does so over an extended period of time. Which begs the question: why would you opt to spend more time and money for what is essentially the same thing? Well, we’ve got a few reasons that make two-year master’s degree programs a good bet, including the following pros:

1. They’re a Smart Use of Time

The job market is dynamic, and won’t always be in your favor. In times when the job market is unstable, a two-year master’s degree program offers a promising way to strengthen your candidacy during the off time. Not to mention that when you’ve completed your degree and the job market has (hopefully) rebounded, you’ll be positioned for an even better job.

2. They Maximize Learning

If you’re truly looking to increase your expertise in a particular area, then cramming all of that learning into one year can be a challenge. A two-year program, meanwhile, offers ample opportunity to learn everything you want to learn — not just in terms of your future career, but also in terms of your personal enrichment. While one-year programs may only cover the bare essentials, two-year programs offer the chance to delve into electives, too.

3. They’re Ph.D.-Friendly

If you’re considering entering a Ph.D. program at some point, a two-year master’s program best positions you for acceptance. Not only will you enter the pool of candidates with demonstrated expertise and commitment to the discipline beyond what you’d get in a one–year program, but you’ll also have time to make real connections and build relationships with professors who can write stellar references for you when the time comes.

But two-year master’s degree programs, aren’t the clear victor, either. Here are the cons associated with these longer degrees:

1. They’re Expensive

Between tuition and living expenses, a two-year master’s degree program is a much more significant financial investment. Not only that, but you’ll also be forfeiting your real-world salary for two full years instead of one, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll recoup those costs.

2. They Mean a Larger Employment Gap

While employers don’t typically view time off from the workforce for academic studies as a bad thing, stepping away from your career path for two full years can be a somewhat frightening concept. Will you miss chances for advancement while you’re gone? Is it really worth it? With one-year programs, these concerns aren’t as much of a factor.

 

Good Reference Letter Tips

A good recommendation letter from the right referee can make a huge impact on a student’s application. But figuring out which professor to approach, and what information they’ll need can be stressful since few students are given much instruction on how to seek out good letters of reference. Never fear! We’ve compiled some tips on how to pick your references and get a good recommendation. So, whether you’re applying to grad school or your first job, or even if you’re looking for references for study abroad programs, scholarships, and internships, follow these four steps to a stellar recommendation and success.

1. Choose wisely

This is the part that students find most stressful – choosing the right professor to write the letter. Asking for a reference can feel rather intimidating, but it’s important to remember that most professors have a vested interest in their students’ success and are happy to assist in many ways. That being said, it’s important to approach the right professor. The instructor’s reputation can be beneficial, particularly if they’re well-respected or a leader in their field, but don’t base your decision on prestige alone. Make sure to choose a professor who knows you well – an ideal candidate for a reference letter would be a professor or instructor that you had for several classes over the course of your studies and with whom you have worked recently. It should go without saying that you choose a professor who has seen your best work and who gave you good marks and feedback. But it’s also important to consider the application requirements. If you’re applying for a Masters in Engineering, it may not be very helpful to choose your Poli-Sci professor from second year, even if you did get straight As in her class. Or if you’re applying for a job on a marketing team, it’s a good idea to ask a professor who can speak to your abilities in a group or on collaborative work.

2. Prepare well

Most professors understand that writing recommendations is part of the job, and they’re happy to help. In fact, many professors will be flattered by your request. But that doesn’t mean that you can just pop by and ask for a letter two days before the application is due. First, contact your professor either in his office hours or via email and ask, politely, whether he is willing to write a letter of recommendation. If you receive a positive response, gather all the information the professor will need to write a reference – your transcripts, CV, application instructions, and all the relevant documents – and visit his office hours with the materials. Make sure to include contact information so that the professor can get in touch with questions or requests. If you’re submitting the documents electronically, make sure that they’re clearly labeled and saved in a format that can be opened in many programs, and find out whether the professor will submit the letter or whether you need to collect it once it’s finished.

3. Timing is Everything

Professors are normally happy to help a student they feel have the skills and drive to succeed, especially when that student has performed well in class and demonstrates passion for the subject. But professors are also busy, and a good letter of reference doesn’t just magically appear overnight. Approach your chosen professor early – weeks (or months if possible) before the application is due. Make sure to submit all the necessary paperwork and information to the professor in a timely fashion, and complete as much of the application as possible to save your professor time and effort. If your application includes a personal statement or project plan, have a draft ready and include it with the information you provide to the professor so that she has context for your application. And follow up on your request – if the application is due next week and you haven’t heard from the professor, it’s appropriate to send a friendly and polite email to check on the letter’s progress. But don’t badger your professor – yours may not be the only letter they are writing.

Engineering in France

When you think of countries with top engineering programs, China, the US and Switzerland may be the first to come to mind. However, plenty of other nations offer premiere engineering opportunities with allures of their own. One destination topping the list for engineers in search of an international education?  France. Let’s take a closer look at four top reasons to consider France for your engineering studies.

Read more about studying Engineering in France.

  1. Engineering Degrees Are Highly Esteemed

French engineering programs are well-known for their rigorous curricula aimed at positioning graduates for successful careers following graduation. France’s selective Grandes Ecoles d’Ingénieur fuse advanced theoretical concepts with practical applications, such as small workshop sessions and paid internships. They also integrate business training, foreign language study, and communication skills, all teaching Diplôme d’Ingénieur recipients to deliver creative solutions to some of today’s most complex challenges.

Standing behind today’s French engineering degrees is The Engineering Title Committee (CTI), the monitoring body tasked with ensuring the ongoing excellence of the country’s engineering education system.

2. Learn In a Culture of Ages-Old Engineering Innovation

Need more proof of the strength of French engineering programs and the capabilities of their grads? Just take a quick look at the country’s legacy of engineering innovation, starting with the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse or “high-speed train”). World record holder for speed, the TGV is considered to be a technological marvel for its combination of performance, comfort, and commitment to eco-mobility.

And the TGV is hardly alone. The 17th century, 150-mile Canal du Midi which spans from Toulouse to the port of Sète in the Mediterranean is so extraordinary in both vision and execution that it’s earned Unesco World Heritage Site status.

And of course no discussion of feats of European engineering is complete without mention of the Eurotunnel. A joint project of France and the UK, the Channel Tunnel took more than 13,000 workers and five years to complete, and has since been declared to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

What do each of these have in common aside from their impressive engineering schemes? They were considered unthinkable until French engineers put their minds to the task. In fact, France recently topped all other European countries for innovation based on Thomson-Reuters’ roundup of the “Top 100 Global Innovators.” With the world facing so many challenges ahead, these past accomplishments speak to the potential of French-educated engineers to make a profound difference in society.

3. The French Language Adds Value

While the importance of knowing English is widely touted, the value of bilingualism is often understated. But as globalization continues to break down conventional barriers to communication, knowledge of a second or more language adds irrefutable value.

In addition to enhancing a student’s ability to communicate, studying French also affords students otherwise unattainable access to understanding French culture and context. These cross-cultural capabilities serve graduates well — both when working alongside other French speakers as well as when communicating with other international students, as well.

In short, adaptability is a “must-have” attribute in today’s complex economic landscape, and amplifying your ability to communicate goes a long way.

  4. It IS France, After All

Mere mention of the word “France” makes most people swoon. While engineering programs are indeed demanding, you won’t spend all your time studying. When you’re not hitting the books, France offers an abundance of unforgettable things to see and do and taste and discover.

And while Paris may get all the buzz, there are plenty of other phenomenal French cities for international students, such as the European metropolis of Lyon. A major technological, industrial and economic hub, Lyon plays host to an impressive network of engineering schools.

Take the Institut Polytechnique de Lyon, for example. This coalition of 4 French “Grandes Ecoles” of Engineering, including CPE Lyon, ECAM Lyon, ISARA Lyon, and ITECH Lyon,  draws students from all over France and around the globe. Each offers different areas of specialization under the umbrella of the Université de Lyon’s research and higher educational center.

France is known for many things — from breathtaking art to fabulous food. It’s not a surprise that this prominent country also shines in other areas as well, such as engineering. Prospective engineers in search of high-quality international engineering educational opportunities will find that and so much more in this legendary, romantic and innovative country.