Graduate Certificate vs second Bachelors

Hi All,

UK-based poster here. I'm sorry for the long post but I am quite stressed about this decision. It has large implications for my finances, job prospects and work-life balance for the next several years. So, I have put a lot down, so if you take the time to answer you will have a lot of data :)

I already have a bachelor's and a master's degree in Philosophy and would like advice on whether to do a Graduate Certificate in Statistics ('GC') or a second bachelor's in Mathematics and Statistics. My long-term aim is to complete an MSc and do well-paid, meaningful statistical work that does not help screw up the planet or screw people over. Maybe a PhD, too. I am in my mid 30s(!) and not exactly financially secure. And I'm not looking at lucrative work in finance when I'm done, either.

The GCs in the UK are specifically designed as conversion courses for graduates of other disciplines who wish to study an MSc outside their original subject. They exist for various subjects. The course is one year of 20 hours a week(!), comprised of evening classes and self study, which I will do around a full-time job; a good pass leads to a part-time MSc over two years, also at 20 hours a week. I have an unconditional offer for Birkbeck, University of London. The course is here:

Given my background it seems ludicrous to consider a second bachelor's. However:

1) I have wiped off my so-called 'General Education' requirements
2) So I am already 150/360 = 42% of credits complete
3) it is distance learning -- so no commute time/cost
4) The thought of living in London does not appeal to me at all
5) the workload is significantly less than 20 hours a week (about 16) and I really do not enjoy studying or learn well if I am rushed
6) I can get a second student loan, meaning I can use my supposed GC/MSc money to save for a house
7) I feel like doing the GC is doing the bare minimum to get onto an MSc and I really want as broad, deep and solid a foundation as possible for my career

The downsides are of course the opportunity costs in terms of good jobs and good salaries, the added years of study (I enjoy it, but one does want some free time for other things!) and the fact that the bachelor's does not teach any programming (and there is little time to self learn R around a full-time job and 16 hours of study a week).

Now, people successfully manage 20 hours a week around a full-time job, and clearly the GC has enabled some people to succeed at the MSc. But I am utterly befuddled how a mere 60/360 = 1/6 of a bachelor's can really prepare you to do well at an MSc, as opposed to merely applying methods to get results without really knowing how they work, why you are doing it or why they are true.

Am I being a total idiot, worrying about nothing and screwing up my life?

Thankyou for taking the time to read this meandering, self-indulgent nonsense.


TS Contributor
This is only my opinion. If you want true understanding not only of what you learn formally but a deeper ability to teach yourself new methodology and theory (which happens a lot once you’re out of a degree program), and if you’re truly passionate about statistics, I would suggest the bachelors route you mentioned. Having a strong mathematical base will help you more quickly understand the how and why and when you go to a MSc (and maybe PhD), you’ll be able to more deeply appreciate the content which will better you as a statistician.