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What is a Master’s Degree Worth?

Okay, so you’ve bared down and nailed that bachelor’s degree in your respective field. Like many postgraduates, you’re probably wondering what’s in store for you, both professionally and academically, and graduate school might seem like the logical next step. Although master’s degrees can certainly lead to a boost in income and a higher level of respect in the professional realm, it’s necessary to take a step back and carefully weigh the pros and cons of this momentous decision, and we’re here to help by providing the following tidbits of sage advice:

Know Your Market: For starters, you have to truly know your prospective program and research the possible outcome after graduation. Graduate school is an investment of considerable time and money, so it’s a good idea to take a hard look at your employment opportunities and pay increases (if any). Thankfully, many master’s programs are worthwhile and provide more opportunities for growth as well as a wider range of job options across the board.

[See our ranking of the Best Online Graduate Degree Programs and the Fastest Online Master’s Degrees.]

As Forbes.com outlines, advanced degrees in fields such as physics, health science, electrical engineering, and computer information systems can literally skyrocket your career. For example, degrees in electrical engineering, finance, and computer science boast an approximate salary of $110,000 per year. So, for the most part, the sciences are simply the better option when it comes to selecting a profitable graduate program. However, many of us are simply not adept in such highly-technical fields, which leads us to two relevant academic areas for discussion: liberal arts and education.

[Check out our list of the Most Popular Master’s Degree Programs.]

The Problem with the Arts: For many of us, the liberal arts offer a respite from the technically-driven society in which we live. We might carry high hopes for that promising academic future as a scholar, professor, historian, or writer, but would a master’s degree truly help with these pursuits? Well, the answer is yes and no. With higher education literally strangled by budget cuts, those coveted instructor or professor positions are few and far between, leaving the market highly competitive even for itinerant (and highly unreliable) adjunct positions. These positions, as a whole, carry no benefits or prospect of long-term, stable employment.

Graduates are often left with no other choice than to get more education (usually in the form of a second master’s or a PhD) with the continued fear of not obtaining permanent employment at the end of the line. Essentially, when it comes to advanced degrees in the liberal arts, one must carry a clear-cut purpose and discover a method of wielding that degree to his/her advantage. The degree will teach the skills, obviously, but students must develop personalized game plans for how to best market themselves before, during, and after graduation. In essence, these students must be willing to “think outside the box” as self-starters and create their own opportunities, bolstered by the knowledge and professional acclaim offered them by their degrees.

The Value of Education: As RossierOnline reports, education degrees do, in fact, provide a host of impressive opportunities for educators. If a teacher desires a better starting wage or holds high hopes for an advanced position in the field of education, then the M.Ed provides valuable networking opportunities, better starting pay and more raises (on average), and a clearer end result as one grows, both personally and professionally, by expanding on knowledge and experience.

[See our list of the Highest Paying Master’s Degree Programs.]

It’s imperative for a student to establish a clear vision for the future and to recognize the value of commitment and purpose. Hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit will help postgraduates stay afloat and effectively use their degrees regardless of the economic climate.

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50 Most Popular Online Masters
40 Fastest Online Masters Degree Programs

Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor