Pursuing a Master's Degree

"Several years ago it became very clear to us that master's education was moving very rapidly to become the entry degree in many professions," Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, told the New York Times in 2011. Indeed, the number of master's degree holders has doubled since the 1980s, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

However, many students can feel burnt out after graduation, or are eager to enter the workforce and are not ready to enroll in graduate degree program. Additionally, the cost of a master's degree program may leave some students wondering if advanced degree is worth it.

As a result, a number of undergrads find themselves at a crossroads, unsure of whether or not they should enroll in a graduate degree program. In order to decide if you should pursue a master's degree, it is important to answer two very important questions: "Why do I want a master's degree?" and "What are the costs involved in completing a graduate degree?"

Why do I want a master's degree?

Some students pursue a master's degree because they believe they need a graduate degree to find a better paying position. For example, some graduates are forced to take lower paying jobs when entering the job market. William Klein, was unable to find a job following graduation and despite having a bachelor's degree, had to take a $7.25 per hour job he had in high school.

"It's pretty apparent that with the degree I have right now, there are not too many jobs I would want to commit to," Klein told the New York Times.

Yet, the potential for higher salaries exists. Research from Forbes reveals that some full-time graduates from top-ranked MBA schools earned starting salaries 50 percent higher than they earned before enrolling in business school.

"Some of the increased pay obviously is due to experience," AFT spokesman John See told the Wall Street Journal. "But much of it also comes from the advanced degree."

Others students may enter graduate programs because of the allure holding a higher degree or because they are simply not ready to enter the job market. Students who have specific career goals in mind, or who are aware of how they can use their master's degree to their benefit, may find the most value from this graduate program.

Despite the potential for both higher earnings and a competitive edge in the search for a job, some bachelor's degree holders are hesitant to pursue a master's degree due to the time commitment, challenging coursework and tuition costs.

What are the costs involved in pursuing a master's degree?

The cost and time involvement of a master's degree program should be carefully weighed against potential job benefits, such as salary increases or possible career advancement. Completing a graduate degree program can require two or more years of coursework, depending on class availability and whether you choose to attend school part- or full-time.

Choosing to get a master's degree can be a daunting step for many students. However, students should focus on the satisfaction that comes with completing a program, increasing their knowledge of their field and the possibility of new career opportunities open to them after graduating.

Stephen Karnik, Chief Administrative Officer for the BAHA'I International Community of the United Nations, said that his master's program had given him the skills and inspiration to achieve his goals.

"The MAS Program has given me so many tools and resources which I'm able to draw upon daily in my work," Karnik said. "But perhaps more importantly I am taking away a renewed enthusiasm about my goals and the new challenges ahead."

Nicholas Charles is a contributor to NursingClassesOnline.net, one of the web's leading information resources for nursing students and professionals alike.


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