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MA in the UK - Hard to find get visas/work?


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Hi all,

I am a US citizen considering some MA programs in the UK. I am not sure, though, if this is a good plan because of work and visa difficulties afterwards.

Has anyone gotten an MA in the UK in the humanities and then carried on smoothly afterwards?

How does the process work? Which tier of visa did you apply for?

(I am specifically thinking of MA programs in Archaeology at Durham and Edinburgh).

Thank you!

P.S. Reposting this here b/c it's the correct place!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't have a tremendous amount of experience but have some familiarity with this situation so here's my two cents. I think it really depends on the field and the type of job that you want. I have known several people (including archaeologists) who have gone to UK programs and been very successful here, at least in finding mid-level museum work. If you want to apply to Ph.D.'s later you will not have much difficulty either. However,most everyone I know has gone to either UCL or Cambridge so I'm less familiar with the schools you list. I would ask some of your undergraduate professors what they think, and try to learn more about accepted standards in any non-academic careers you may be considering. I've never heard anyone say they regretted earning a humanities MA in the UK.

Edited by Shelley Burian
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I was looking at a MA program in the UK, but intended on coming back to the US for work but because of my undergrad's alumni base I did get to hear both sides. Of the people who went on to the program (Leicester's Museum Studies) they said it was much easier to get a job in the UK but it was necessarily difficult to get a job here either. It just took more time (4-6 months seemed average). But I'm not sure what visa level they applied to, though.

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As of April 2012, you are no longer able to get a Tier 1 PSW (post-study work) visa following the completion of a degree course at a UK university. Therefore, in order to gain employment, your employer will need to sponsor you, which can be quite difficult, especially given the extensive cuts to arts/humanities (with more to come). Something to keep in mind..

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am a British graduate student also in the humanities, so perhaps I can help a little. Firstly, Durham and Edinburgh are both extremely well respected universities here in the UK. In terms of employment,Durham is a particularly small university town so would perhaps not offer you the same access to work and networking opportunities as Edinburgh. That being said, wherever you study in the UK, there are good transport links allowing you to commute easily and quickly to neighbouring cities for work etc.


Whilst I do know plenty of US students who have successfully transitioned from a Masters degree in the UK to full-time employment, I must admit that they all did so before the changes resulting in the current visa law.


As I understand it, once you are accepted to and confirm your place at a university they would sponsor you for a tier 4 visa. Whilst studying on such a visa you would be permitted to work for up to 20 hours a week during term time (and full time during holidays) and you would also be able to participate in a work placement if it constitutes part of your course. The tier 4 visa would be for the length of the course plus an additional 4 months. After your course is completed, you can use the remainder of your visa time to look for work in the UK so you can transition into another visa category if they wish. Otherwise, you must leave the UK once their visa period ends.


In terms of transitioning to another visa category, this would probably require you to find a employer to sponsor you. Whilst this would be possible (you would have the 4 months after your course ends to find employment), you should be aware that the job market for humanities graduates and related fields (including those relating to archeology) are very over saturated at the moment, with large rates of unemployment. That is not to say that you yourself would not find a position and someone willing to sponsor you, but you should be aware of the current situation and factor this into your approach.


If you have any further questions, please feel free to message me.

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