As you look at your career path, you may find yourself in a position where you need additional training to move forward. This may cause your thoughts to turn toward grad school. However, the cost and time investment can feel overwhelming. When deciding whether or not to pursue a master’s degree, you likely face a number of questions. One, in particular, always bubbles to the top: Is a master’s degree worth it?
To answer this, you must take a closer look at the costs compared to the overall benefits you will attain with your newly earned degree. A master’s degree does represent an investment. Conservative estimates of the average cost of graduate school at public colleges and universities come in around $30,000 while a private school average is closer to $40,000, or more! In addition to tuition, you will be investing time and effort into the degree. If you are going to make this commitment, you want to have confidence that you’re benefiting from your efforts.
So, is grad school worth it? While the answer to this question is going to be different for every individual, many will find that the answer is yes. Here are some reasons why earning a master’s degree is an effort worth taking on.
Reasons Why Earning a Master’s Degree Is Worth It
There are many reasons to consider pursuing a master’s degree. From higher salaries to better career advancement potential, as well as the many online options available to today’s graduate students, here are some of the reasons why it just makes sense to earn your master’s degree.
One of the primary reasons someone will pursue a master’s degree is to lay the groundwork for a salary increase. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) takes an annual salary survey to determine what average salaries are in the nation. In the 2019 Winter Salary Survey, NACE found that students with a master’s degree in business earned a starting salary that was nearly $27,500 a year more than students with only a bachelor’s degree in business. For computer science majors, the difference was over $14,000.
Of course, these are just two of the many hundreds of master’s degree programs available to students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offers estimates of the average weekly earnings of a professional based on degree held. According to the BLS, a worker with a master’s degree earns a weekly average of $1,497. With a bachelor’s degree, that drops by nearly $250 to $1,248. That’s a monthly difference of nearly $1,000, which adds up to $12,000 a year.
So, is a master’s degree worth it? Based on salary alone, you have more income potential with a graduate degree than without one. Even with an estimated cost of $30,000, you could recoup your investment within three years if you earn an additional $12,000 a year after attaining your degree. Over the lifetime of your career, this can add up substantially.
Not only does earning a master’s degree improve your income potential, but it also improves your chances of moving up within your career. Career advancement, including promotions and raises, can be highly competitive—the more competitive edges you can give yourself, the better your overall success will be.
Some jobs do not require a master’s degree, but the degree can help make you more appealing to help land the job or a promotion within the company. Remember, many openings have hundreds of applicants. You need to stand out, and an advanced degree can help give you that. To determine if a master’s degree will help advance your career in this way, you must consider how competitive the application pool is for the type of job you want. If your resume looks like most of the other candidates in terms of work experience and skills, but you can add that graduate degree, you might get some attention when others are overlooked for the role.
In addition, some fields, like education, offer automatic career advancement and salary increases simply for earning your degree. In these instances, you don’t have to apply for a raise or a promotion. It’s a natural part of the process once you complete your degree.
Career advancement also goes hand in hand with career stability. According to the BLS, people with a master’s degree are far less likely to be unemployed than people with an associate degree. The BLS reports a 2 percent unemployment rate for master’s degree holders, compared to 2.2 for those with a bachelor’s degree and 2.7 for those with an associate degree.
The cost for a master’s degree is definitely part of your consideration, but you may have options to help cover those costs. If your degree completion would benefit your employer in some way, you can ask about tuition reimbursement programs. Many organizations and companies offer tuition reimbursement to employees simply as an employment perk, and others will consider it if they can see a clear benefit to the organization.
If your company doesn’t advertise tuition reimbursement as a hiring perk, don’t be afraid to ask. Present your desire to go back to school as a benefit to the company. Show how your advanced training would help your organization, then ask if they would consider tuition reimbursement. If they agree, you can get important money to help cover the cost of your education.
Increased Career Path Possibilities
Many jobs or job openings actually require a master’s degree, according to Monster.com. For example, you likely won’t find work as a speech-language pathologist or data scientist if you do not have a graduate degree. Similarly, many organizations will not hire managerial candidates who do not have a graduate degree. Other careers that require a master’s degree include:
- Post-secondary teacher
- Computer and information research scientist
- Education administration
- Social worker
- Nurse anesthetist
- Occupational therapist
- Political scientist
- Genetic counselor
If you have your sights set on one of these degrees, then a master’s degree is a must. Often these are the higher-paid jobs in their particular fields, making them even more desirable.
Another reason why a master’s degree is worthwhile in the modern academic climate is the number of online options that make it easier and more affordable to attain. Inside Higher Ed indicates that during the 2015-2016 academic year, around 785,000 master’s degrees were given to students in the country. Of those, 31% earned their master’s degree entirely online. An additional 21% did at least part of their coursework online.
In 2021, those numbers are even higher. In fact, due to many colleges and universities closing campus doors on in-person learning, the majority of graduates in 2021 will have at least a portion of their master’s degree program from an online learning platform.
Online master’s degree programs give you a greater amount of flexibility in your education. You can often go back to school without stopping your current career path. You can fit your studies into the nooks and crannies of your day, allowing you to continue working while advancing your education at the same time.
Online programs also allow you to get your education from the school of your choice, even if it is located far from your home. This flexibility means you can find a program that fits your specific interests and career goals without having to move away from home and work.
Are online master’s worth it? Some students wonder if an online degree holds the same clout as one earned on-campus. At one time that may have been true for many employers. However, the market is shifting as more and more respected schools are opening online master’s degree programs.
According to U.S. News & World Report, today’s employers accept online programs more than they used to. In fact, many won’t even ask what delivery model you chose. Rather, employers want to see the degree and the school, and that will determine how they view the degree. If the degree comes from an accredited, respected school, the fact that you earned it online is going to matter little to most modern employers. Unless you divulge the information, they may not even know that you earned your degree online simply from your resume alone.
Many Master’s Degree Options
Finally, a master’s degree is worth considering because of the vast number of degrees out there. You aren’t stuck with just an MBA or Master’s in Education. Do you love science? You can find master’s degrees in that field. Are you working in retail? A master’s degree in marketing could make you even more effective. Do you love working with people? A master’s in Counseling and Human Services can prepare you for service-oriented community careers.
The sheer number of options out there means that today’s students can find something to fit their interests if they choose to move forward with earning a master’s degree.
Is a Master’s Degree Worth It? For Most People, the Answer Is Yes
So, is a grad degree worth it? Most grads would say yes. The career advancement and income potential are worth the investment of time and money for an advanced education.
Also, if you are looking to increase your earning potential and expand your career options, but can’t do so with your undergrad degree, then the answer is yes. With so many options out there, including flexible online programs, you can easily get your graduate degree and move forward with your career at the same time.
If you are considering going back to school to earn your master’s degree and increase your career or earning potential, Post University is ready to help. With a long list of master’s degree programs available online, as well as on-campus options, you can find a degree that fits your needs and your schedule. Take a look at the available programs, then talk to an admission counselor to see how Post University can help you reach your career goals with our flexible and affordable master’s degree options.
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Please note jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries expected from any Post University program. To learn more about Post University’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions representative.