Does my degree subject matter?

It's an age-old question; we've all been there, wondering if the three or more years at university have been worth it. Has your specific degree topic made you more employable than the next person? Does it really matter?

Some recent surveys reveal that less than 20% of employers specify an area of study in their graduate job listings, and only 27% of graduates even work in a role related to their degree topic. It is also argued that those who dedicate their studies to one field, whether that's law, business or English literature don't always end up achieving greater success in their field. History graduates are perfectly able to succeed in business, someone with a law degree can achieve amazing things by becoming a writer and a French language student can become an excellent politician – it's all relative. 


Furthermore, many career paths make it possible for graduates to undergo a conversion course (see a definition at the bottom of this page, if you're not sure) to study in a new topic before going on to specialise in this sector. A conversion course is an intensive postgraduate programme which will allow you to pursue a career that your undergraduate degree hasn't prepared you for. They're usually vocational and normally last around a year and can get your prepared for the career you now have in mind. Most tend to condense an undergraduate course into a short time frame – so, incredibly stressful!

There are some clear, popular examples of conversion courses, such as in law and teaching – a role in these industries can be achieved by undergoing a further study of a Graduate Diploma in Law and a PGCE. These will bring you to the same level (or perhaps even higher) than those who studied this as a degree subject; so, does this mean that your degree is irrelevant if you could specialise later on?

Though it was once believed that employers preferred a degree related to their field, this appears to be changing. Extra-curricular activities, hobbies, work experience and general academic success are now having more sway with employers, many expecting to see evidence of candidates drive and motivation while at university. This is why it is advisable to get involved with your university's societies or take advantage of summer breaks to complete an internship, or even undergo a year in industry to give you first-hand experience of the workplace. 

However, some career paths do require a graduate to possess a degree in their specialisation. This is most notable in fields such as engineering and medicine. These are areas in which the theoretical knowledge and the practical skills you pick up in your studies are crucial to your future career and require expert understanding.

So yes, work hard for your degree and gain the best possible classification you can – it's always good to have a great qualification to fall back on. Nevertheless, make sure you're also putting a lot of effort into advancing your CV through taking part in university groups, undergoing work experience or other opportunities that take your fancy. It's safe to say that the world of job hunting is almost work in itself. But, by making yourself a well-rounded candidate, you'll soon be able to find the perfect role for you, no matter what degree subject you study.

At the end of the day, there are still plenty of opportunities out there for graduates seeking roles. Why not sign up and check out some exciting graduate jobs?

getmyfirstjob University