With undergraduate degrees becoming extremely common these days, more and more students are looking to get a masters degree as a way to stand out from the competition. But is a master’s degree right for you? Here are three questions to ask yourself before taking the grad school plunge.
Can you afford it?
Let’s face it: an undergraduate degree is a major expense. Are you really prepared to fork out the tuition for one or two more years? While degrees do tend to pay for themselves in a matter of years, you will still be facing a larger debt load once you graduate. Not all master’s degrees will result in a higher pay scale either. You may want to do a bit of research on what you can expect to earn and if a master’s degree will result in a bigger salary.
Would work experience be better?
A master’s degree looks great on a resume but will it really give you the skills you need to be successful? Some careers are much better learned in the office than in the classroom. For example, many schools are now offering master’s degrees in public relations. However, most successful PR executives have a lot of relationships with journalists and experience in getting stories published. These assets cannot be learned in a classroom. On the flip side, if you are thinking of going into public relations management, a master’s degree might benefit you by teaching skills such as budgeting and strategic planning.
Will it help you get a job?
There are a lot of fields that require a master’s level education (think: occupational therapists and librarians). If you are perusing a career that requires a graduate diploma, you likely know already that you are destined to continue your studies. However, an increasing number of schools are now offering elective master’s degrees in a variety of programs. Generally speaking, more education is a good thing, but being over-educated is a problem some graduates are now facing. Some employers may think being in school for too long means you are out of touch with the working world. Others may feel intimidated if you are far more educated than they are.
Extending your student career can be a rewarding experience, and in the right fields, can pay off tenfold. But a master’s degree is not an automatic step up in the working world. Before committing yourself to more time and money, do your homework first and make sure the degree will actually work for you.