Mastering Your Graduate Program: 6 Reasons to Continue Your EducationBy Ellie Walburg on October 2, 2018
When you think of what career goals you want to accomplish, do you know the steps you'll need to take to get there?
Unfortunately, there's rarely a blueprint with step by step directions that will show us the way. If only it was that simple.
So what are you to do if you're looking to take a next step in your career or change jobs or positions to something that aligns more with who you are?
A great next step is being equipped with knowledge, skills and experience so that you can thrive in those new opportunities. And a master's degree is a great way to be ready.
A master's degree builds upon your undergraduate degree and dives deeper into the field you're interested in. There's also a variety of graduate programs out there, from business and leadership to education and TESOL, so you can get into the program that best suits your career or personal goals.
But if you've already earned your bachelor's degree, what's the big deal about a master's? Here, we share six reasons why building on your previous experiences and pursuing your master's degree can help you achieve your goals.
1. Learn What You Love
A master's program takes your learning one step further in focusing on what it is that you want to learn. While not every course in your master's program may align perfectly with your personality or what you want to do with your degree, each course is included in the program for a reason.
Without the need to complete a collection of general education courses, as in most undergraduate work, the courses in your master's program are all centered around preparing you with practical knowledge that you can apply directly to your current or aspired work environment.
If you love numbers and spreadsheets, courses in an M.B.A. like finance, economics and accounting have curriculum that will align well with your interests. If you're all into leadership and equipping people to thrive within an organization, courses in topics like conflict management or human resources in a program such as a M.A. in Organizational Leadership will inspire you.
Some programs may even offer the option to choose a specific concentration within the degree program. This allows you to specialize in the area in which you're interested, such as finance, global business, health care or project management.
Graduate work often allows you to choose research projects and paper topics on interests and matters that are important to you and your work. If you have a passion for the emotional effects of marketing practices, you can focus your research on that topic. If you're jazzed by learning new strategies in improving employee retention, there are opportunities for you to explore those practices. By continuing your education with a master's program, you can learn more of what you love.
2. Earn More Money
First off, a paycheck isn't everything. There's so much more to a career than your bi-weekly pay stub.
It's interesting to know that graduates with masters' degrees tend to earn higher wages than those with only a bachelor's degree and earn significantly higher than those with only a high school diploma.
According to an article from Smart Asset (2018), the median annual earnings for someone with a master's degree is about $70,000. Compare that to the median annual earnings for someone with a bachelor's degree of about $60,000 and just about $35,000 for someone with just a high school diploma.
The unemployment rates by degree levels also points to the value of a master's degree. Smart Asset notes that the unemployment rate for those with a master's degree is just 2.4%, while the rate for those with a bachelor's is 2.8% and 5.4% for those with just a high school diploma.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also states that job growth for master's degree level positions are also expected to increase. These jobs are expected to increase at 16.7% by 2026, compared to only 10% for bachelor-level positions and just 5% for those with just a high school diploma.
Yes, money isn't everything; but the return on investment of earning a master's degree is something that can't be ignored.
3. Be More Marketable
Listing a master's degree on your resume sets you apart from other candidates right away. While a bachelor's degree provides you a solid competency of knowledge and skills, a master's degree shows that you're committed to advancing in your career and being equipped for the next level. A master's adds another level of credibility and experience that stands out to hiring managers and leaders.
An article from U.S. News (2012) mentions how earning a master's degree displays characteristics like persistence and the ability to manage difficult situations, which are often what managers and directors are looking for in a new hire or promotion. Some organizations have even begun requiring a master's level degree for certain leadership or managerial positions.
With specialized knowledge combined with the experience of thriving in a challenging educational environment, you'll be seen as more marketable when it comes to that new job or next promotion.
4. Take Advantage of Tuition Reimbursement Programs
Organizations want to see their employees succeed. For some, that means offering tuition benefits to encourage their teams to continue to develop their skills and experience to make a difference in their work. While a bachelor's degree may be a requirement for employment, a master's degree shows you're ready for the next level.
According to an article from GoGrad.org, about 54% of employers offer some sort of tuition reimbursement program for their employees. These employers include big-name companies like Google, Chevron, Boeing, P&G and many more.
Companies willing to assist with tuition benefits both you and them. You get a greater opportunity to continue your education and grow your knowledge and skills to accomplish your goals. Your organization benefits by empowering you as the employee to apply what you learn in the classroom to enhance your team and company culture. They also improve employee development and retention by providing a tangible way that they value their employees.
5. Discover New Opportunities
If you're looking to switch up your current career path, a master's degree can provide you the opportunities to make that change to what you want to do.
With practical topics experienced in a graduate program, you'll be able to take what you learn and apply it toward where you want to go—whether that means starting a new small business, transitioning into a leadership role at your organization or jumping into a new career field.
For example, if you're currently in a sales position, earning a M.A. in Organizational Leadership can help you climb your organization's ladder by gaining experience and skills in management or human resources so that you can move into those fields easily.
6. Grow Personally and Professionally
Being a lifelong learner allows you to deepen your understanding about a particular subject matter. But it also allows you the opportunity to learn more about yourself and what you want to accomplish in life.
By focusing on projects and research that aligns with your passions, you can discover what really matters to you and how you can apply those passions in your work.
When you choose to both study and work full-time, you'll also develop skills in time management and balancing your responsibilities. Pursuing your master's allows you the opportunity to prioritize what's truly important to you and become increasingly disciplined to accomplish all that you need to.
Earning a graduate degree isn't a quick and easy task you can check off immediately. Returning to school and keeping your other responsibilities of home, work and social life balanced takes work. Completing an assignment, gaining some new insight and finishing up your class brings a personal accomplishment that's a testament to your hard work and dedication to achieve your goals.
Walking across the stage at graduation to receive your diploma is an immense personal accomplishment that you've worked hard for. Celebrate that journey.
Discover How You Can Take Your Next Step
We often know what our goals are, but how to get there is another question.