A guest post by EPRM student, Dessislava Ivanova.
Most people, especially those with full-time jobs, think long and hard before enrolling on a research training programme. There are many reasons to hesitate. Maybe the last time you studied was years ago; perhaps you’re very busy with your career; or maybe your work-life balance is already tipping the ‘wrong’ way.
These are all valid reasons and ones that make sense to anyone who has thought of starting a research track, years after they have graduated. People are afraid that they won’t cope with the quantity of the materials to study, the assignments, and the deadlines. Not to mention the fact that the education system is so different compared to when they graduated. So much more complicated and advanced. And of course, where will you find the time? What kind of programme allows you to do a full-time job and study at the same time?
If you look online, you’ll find several part-time programmes spread across Europe. One of which is the ‘Evidence-Based Policy Research Methods’ (EPRM) programme in Maastricht, The Netherlands. This programme is offered by a unique co-creation of the United Nations University (UNU-MERIT) and the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance at Maastricht University (MGSoG).
The programme has many positive features, chief among them being able to study in-depth while keeping your career. EPRM features five modules based in Maastricht, as well as various online components. By the end, you’ll know if you have the skills and knowledge to pursue your research further or even enroll on a PhD. Personally, I found it hard and time-consuming – but ultimately doable. While it’s theoretically possible to do the course in one semester, I took the extended option via a ‘modular’ approach (i.e. split into manageable chunks).
The personal perspective
Overall I found the programme really fulfilling. It not only helped me update and develop my research skills, it also enabled me to establish a new academic and social network. I’ve just now completed the programme and, armed with a workable and thorough research proposal, will soon be conducting further research on the next step up: a PhD! Areas covered within the programme include governance policies, migration studies, political analysis and economics. If you want to do research into any of these fields, I can only recommend this EPRM programme.
During the assigned modules, you’ll be able to straighten out your research design, understand how to develop further your research proposal, and choose the right methodology. Another important element is whether to select a qualitative, quantitative or mixed approach – whatever best fits the research model. Then, of course, you’ll need to master the dark arts of academic writing, presenting proposals, and contributing to workshops – all key elements in a successful doctoral programme.
So now we come full circle. You’re back at work, juggling responsibilities, and suddenly wondering why you enrolled. The answer is clear: because you want to. Because you’re fascinated by the subject. Because you want a step up not only personally, not only educationally, but also perhaps in your career.
The opinions expressed here are the author’s own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
Flickr / D.Cordell