Back to overview

The Oracle

Will a master’s increase my chance of a training contract?

updated on 18 June 2024

Dear Oracle

I'm thinking of doing a master’s – could this help me to stand out when applying for a training contract?

The Oracle replies

Most UK law firms don’t include a master’s qualification in their academic requirements, so adding one to your CV won’t necessarily give you an advantage as an applicant. Instead, most firms ask for a good undergraduate degree result (ie, at least a 2.1) and three good A levels (ie, As and Bs).

There’s a common misconception that doing a master’s will make up for any bad results you may have accumulated at these earlier stages however, this isn’t the case. Although completing a master’s is unlikely to give you a competitive edge as a job applicant, there are several other reasons why continuing your studies could make perfect sense.

These include:

  • studying for the love of the subject – be prepared to pay the fees or take out a postgraduate student loan;
  • an ambition to become a specialist (eg, studying tax for the tax Bar if you’re pursuing a career as a barrister); and
  • a postgraduate qualification is something you regard as a personal ambition.

However, there are other ways you can stand out from the crowd in your applications. For example, it’s important for candidates to showcase their interest in developing professionally – this could be shown through any legal and non-legal experiences, and any transferable skills you’ve gained, either during a vacation scheme or volunteering within your local community. The unique experiences you gain and how they resonate with you will help to set you apart in your applications.

If you’re a non-law student, find out about other ways to stand out in applications with this LCN Says: ‘Training contract and vacation scheme applications: three ways non-law students can stand out’.      

Plus, increase your chance of securing a training contract by reading our masterclass on how to apply for a training contract. You can also learn how to demonstrate the key skills for law in applications and how to find the right pro bono scheme for you.

LPC/SQE and Bar course loan funding

Another – very pragmatic – reason to do a master’s is because the vocational qualifications needed to become a solicitor or barrister aren’t eligible for the government’s postgraduate student loan scheme, but when combined with a master’s, both the LPC/Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and Bar course become eligible.

LawCareers.Net’s first advice is to always apply for a training contract before undertaking the LPC or SQE, as many law firms sponsor their future trainees through the course.

However, if you’re having to self-fund the vocational stage, incorporating a master’s into your studies can mean that you avoid having to pay the fees until you’re working full time.

To find out more on how to manage your money, head to our Finances section.

SQE course funding

The SQE is a system of exams designed to assess solicitors at the point of qualifying. It'll eventually replace the LPC over the next few years.

Many SQE preparation courses can be combined with a master’s in the same way as the LPC or a traditional law conversion. This means that students can access postgraduate student loan funding to help them through the SQE route, while also having the opportunity to add an extra qualification to their CVs.

Head to LCN’s SQE hub for more detailed information and read our guide to SQE preparation courses.

Practising in an overseas jurisdiction

Finally, in some international jurisdictions, a master's is as important as a first degree. If you’re an international student returning home at the end of your studies, or if you’re hoping to train overseas, it’s worth finding out what the desirable level of education is in that jurisdiction.

Head to the Courses section to find out more about some of the institutions that offer postgrad study.