Congratulations! You have decided to go to graduate school. It's no light decision to pursue additional education. But you should you go for a one-year program? Or a two-year program? Here's the dreaded answer: it depends.
There are myriad options for your master's degree, including the amount of time it takes to complete one.
There are benefits to both options. What matters most? Your end goal. A longer education does not necessarily mean a more lucrative career. It may just mean a longer education. It all depends on what you hope to achieve by earning a master's degree. Or, a longer education might give you the insights you want and need --along with a matching degree -- to get you the job you want.
Here are some pros and cons of each:
Let's start with the basics here: a one-year program is short! If you're taking time off work to earn your master's, then you'll probably appreciate this option. Financially, it makes more sense, too. Provided you can return to your job after your degree, you'll miss one year of pay as opposed to two.
In terms of accessibility, it doesn't get much better. There are online one-year and part-time master's degrees.
While a one-year degree can give you what you want pretty quickly, there are some downsides. You won't, for example, get as in-depth an education and experience as you would with a two-year program. There's likely little or no opportunity for an internship because there's not enough time. The lack of internship could make a negative impact on your networking prospects.
The upside? You might not need an in-depth master's degree, especially if you're already in a field you enjoy and know with a large, pre-existing network. If you're contemplating education, a specialization in a business field, or data analysis in something like biomedical science, then a one-year master's might do it for you.
The key? Determine what you want and what you need. If you are clear in your goals, have an existing network and maybe even a job at a company or organization you like, a one-year master's may be all you need to boost your earning power and take the next step. You will save money and have a lot of flexibility in how you approach the program.
Want a more in-depth experience? Take a look at some pros and cons of the two-year program.
In a field that you love, but can't seem to land the job you really want? A two-year degree might be just the ticket.
Two-year master's degrees could be a good use of your time, especially if you're waiting out a tough job market. You'll take a deep dive in a subject you care about, expand your network, have the opportunity to explore other career options, and enter, or re-enter, the job market hopefully on its upswing.
Another benefit of the two-year program? If you are contemplating a PhD, a two-year master's degree is the way to go. PhD programs look more favorably on two-year degrees as opposed to one-year ones. That's not to say you can't apply to doctoral programs with a one-year master's, but you have a better chance of getting in with a two-year master's.
On the downside, two-year master's are obviously more time-consuming and cost more money. If you are not in a position to devote two years of your life to studying, or you're not willing to go into debt or at a minimum go salary-free for two years, this choice may not make the most sense for you.
Then there's the employment gap. Say you've been working for a few years. Then you take two years off. That's two years you're not working. If you go for the two-year master's, make sure that you feel comfortable explaining your employment gap and that it's filled with exciting, job-friendly experiences that you can explain in an interview.
It's a tough one. It essentially comes down to employment plans, job prospects, money, and time.
What choice do you make? The one that works best for you!