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Why I chose to start in January

Michael Hay Student Life

A Master’s in January

Howdy, my name’s Michael. I’m currently (well, almost) a master’s student at Northumbria in computer science. I say almost because… I’m technically starting in January 2018. The ability to start in January is just one of the reasons why I decided to pick Northumbria University- not many universities offer this. In this post, I’m going to explain why January appealed to me and what benefits it can hold. But first, a little background. My bachelor’s degree was in biomedical science (more on this in a later post), so naturally, coming into computer science (obviously a very different academic field) I was very cautious during my research. I was surprised to see some courses offering a January start as opposed to September. These courses were also full-time and identical to the ones in September, with (usually) the only differences being in the scheduling.

New year, new master’s

So, why’d I pick January over September? Well, the delayed start was most important for me, especially as I had just graduated in August. Getting everything together to start a master’s in a new field didn’t seem like the right thing to do. I felt I needed time to properly research the big commitment of doing a master’s in a new city, at a new university, including things like where I was going to live and my funding.

Something else other students might find (including myself) is that they want to try out potential job offers or interviews they may have applied for prior to graduating. This of course takes up time travelling, preparing and generally being stressed, making it tough to start a new course by September, as you then feel you’ve got to decide between applying for further jobs or applying for a master’s. This makes the January master’s an ideal gateway into your desired program without sacrificing personal or professional commitments, and without losing out on a year and waiting for the next application cycle. You can also take your time and focus on making a strong application instead of rushing it.

The other benefits of January

There are other advantages to starting in January which helped strengthen my decision to start in January.

Breaking away from the typical course cycle could be advantageous for employment. Although jobs are advertised throughout the year, graduating outside of the usual cycle of newly qualified students entering the job market could mean less competition and be better for job prospects.

You have some time to develop new skills or pursue a hobby. Waiting a whole year for the next September cycle is likely to be too much for some people, but three or four months for January is the perfect time to start something new that could help in the future. For me, I’m finally able to learn to drive which I have been meaning to do since starting uni, but was way too busy and stressed to do at the time. I’m also able to finally pursue creative projects and hobbies that I had to put on hold during my final year doing my bachelor’s.

You also have time to prepare for your course. If you’re also entering a different academic field, this is the perfect opportunity to start preparing ahead of time by checking the reading material and checking the course content in greater detail.

Hopefully this shed some light on the reasons I decided to go for the January intake, and maybe it’s given you some reasons to consider it yourself. In future posts, I’ll be writing a little more about my undergraduate studies as well as providing more details about my January experience.

Until next time!


Northumbria University offers a range of postgraduate and undergraduate degree courses starting in January, offering you flexibility for your start date. Head over to our January Intake Hub to search for courses and apply online today.

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