Conversion courses would be more aptly named “crash courses”. They are intensive courses designed to get you up to speed in a subject which is different to the one that you studied previously.
Often taken after an undergraduate bachelor’s degree, they are usually designed to prepare you for a specific vocation. For example, if you want to become a lawyer, but you didn’t study law at undergraduate level, then you would take the law conversion course (a.k.a. the Graduate Diploma in Law), which basically compresses an undergraduate law degree into just one year.
Popular conversion courses…
Aside from the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), there are plenty of other popular conversion courses. Professions such as teaching, medicine, psychology, social work and I.T. all have conversion courses, such as the Graduate Diploma in Psychology and the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). You can even do a conversion course in ‘property’.
You’ll notice from the above examples that conversion courses, like Britain’s Got Talent contestants, come in all different shapes and sizes. The higher education certificate or diploma, e.g. the GDL or PGCE, usually takes the limelight, but, waiting in the wings, you’ll find conversion courses in the form of a master’s degree (e.g. social work) or fast-track degrees, like the graduate-entry medicine course, which compresses a medical degree into just four years.
Why should I do a conversion course?
People don’t just do a conversion course for the heck of it. As ‘impulse buys’ go, it’s a pretty expensive one. Most people take conversion courses to quickly prepare them for a particular career.
For many people, a conversion course is the first step towards a professional career as a lawyer, teacher or social worker. Other people take conversion courses to improve their skills and career development. For example, you might combine your undergraduate degree with a conversion course in I.T. to boost your chances of successfully following a particular career path.
How do I fund a conversion course?
You should certainly explore your funding options before reaching into your own pockets to fund a conversion course. Since most of the courses are highly vocational, there are a number of different funding options. For example, the government offers a tuition fee loan and bursaries for people doing a PGCE.
Alternatively, you might be able to get your future employer to pay for your conversion course. If you secure a training contract, then some law firms will cover the cost of your GDL. For more funding ideas, have a look at our postgraduate funding article.
How do I apply for a conversion course?
The beauty of a conversion course is that, generally, it won’t matter what subject you studied at undergraduate level. If you’ve done a vocational qualification (which is equivalent to a degree), then you might still be able to apply for a conversion course; although you might need an additional qualification.
The grade you got in your undergraduate degree, however, is likely to matter. Generally, most universities will be looking for people with a second class honours degree or above.