With all of the headlines about student loan crises and the crushing debt many students are faced with, there have been an equal number of headlines questioning whether it’s worthwhile to earn an advanced degree. While many still claim that an advanced degree is a good investment, there are an equal number of experts who claim that a master’s degree simply costs too much, and had too few benefits, to be of much use to most students.
However, the fact is, most of those experts are simply wrong. Are there master’s programs that are unlikely to provide significant financial advantages to students? Yes, there are. There are also many more master’s programs that offer practical applications that set the stage for successful and lucrative careers.
If you’re on the fence about whether a master’s degree is right for you, consider some of these factors, and you’ll see that yes, graduate school does matter.
Grad School Increases Earning Potential
One of the major selling points for any graduate program is the increased earning potential that such a degree affords students. And it’s true: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers who hold a master’s degree earn, on average, about 30 percent more than those who only have a bachelor’s degree. Those with advanced degrees in technical, scientific, and business and managerial subjects — including economics — tend to be on the higher end of the earnings spectrum, as opposed to those with degrees in liberal arts. Still, there is no denying that in most cases, going to graduate school is step toward a bigger paycheck.
Grad School Creates Opportunities
In some circles, a master’s degree has become the “new bachelor’s degree.” In other words, there are an increasing number of jobs that are only open to people with advanced credentials; one study suggests that as many as 20 percent of all jobs are only open to those with graduate-level degrees or higher. Graduate programs provide students with highly developed technical skills in addition to improved critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making skills that are attractive to employers. In fact, those skills are so valuable to employers that unemployment rate among those with master’s degrees is significantly lower than average, at only about three percent.
Grad School Allows for Career Advancement
In most companies, employees follow a defined career path, steadily advancing according to their performance and qualifications. However, the executive suite is usually reserved for those employees who have advanced education and training. In some cases, completing a master’s-level program provides specialized knowledge that puts you ahead of your colleagues and allows you to move into higher-level positions more quickly.
Either way, employers value both the knowledge you gain in graduate school and your demonstrated commitment to improving your knowledge and skills, and generally reward that commitment with more responsibility.
Grad School Helps You Meet Licensing Qualifications
In some fields, becoming licensed or certified is a requirement to advance — or even work. Often, becoming licensed is predicated upon earning a master’s degree, which prepares you for a licensing exam. Even if you aren’t required to hold a license for you work, certain certifications require demonstrated knowledge of the field, and a master’s degree generally fits the bill.
Grad School Builds Your Personal Pride
Whether you earn an MBA, a master’s in economics, or pursue your passion for British literature, there is an undeniable sense of personal pride and accomplishment that comes from earning a master’s degree. Most programs take at least two years to complete and require devoting free time to class, homework, reading, and studying. If you go back to school while working full time and managing other responsibilities, you need excellent time management and prioritization skills to ensure that everything gets done.
Even if you aren’t holding down a full time job, graduate school is a commitment, and successfully completing a program is something to be proud of. For many people, just knowing that they earned their degree gives them a greater sense of confidence that influences every other aspect of their lives — and allows them to seize opportunities and take more risks than they otherwise wouldn’t have.
So to answer the question of whether a master’s degree is “worth it,” the answer is a resounding “yes.” From the career and salary benefits to the boost of confidence and sense of personal pride, investing the time and money into a degree is decidedly worthwhile.
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.