Why You Might Need a Master's Degree
For most college students, May means exams and a tantalizing glimpse at the summer holidays to come. But for graduating students, May means it's time to make some big decisions. Will you jump head-first into the job market? Take some time before student-loan payments kick in to travel? Or start a graduate degree? Although you may think that the last thing you want to do after four years of study is to start a new degree course, there are some very good reasons to consider pursuing a master's degree. Read on to find out why.
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Most of us were told that in order to get ahead in life we needed to go to college and get a degree. But you've done that. So why do you need a master's degree? It's true that for many jobs and fields, a BA or BS will suffice..at least at first. But the job market is increasingly specialized, and many graduates find that it's difficult to enter or progress in the job market without an advanced degree. Here are five reasons you should consider post-graduate studies.
1. MAs are the New Bachelors
Thirty years ago, a bachelor's degree in most subjects was the ticket to a job where you could gain experience and progress to higher levels of expertise. In fact, in the past job seekers with graduate-level degrees may have been considered overqualified, but things have changed. It's not exactly a bad thing, but with increased college enrollment over the last few decades, the market has been flooded with skilled and qualified undergraduates. Now, employers are looking to hire graduates with advanced degrees, and while there are still plenty of positions that will accept bachelor's degrees, some of the most desirable positions are going to recent grads with masters-level qualifications. A Masters will help you to stand out from the crowd and will show prospective employers that you have advanced skills and subject-expertise.
2. They Can Be Required
While many sectors favor post-graduate degrees, there are several fields in which a master's-level degree is required. Obviously, education for doctors and lawyers goes far beyond that of a normal bachelor's degree, but if you're considering a career in therapy, library or museum sciences, economics, architecture, or various medical professions, you'll find that an advanced degree isn't optional. Speech and language therapists in the US need a graduate degree and accreditation. In the UK, 'architect' is a protected title and in order to practice students must complete five years of study as well as work experience. In the US, a growing doctor shortage means that there are more jobs for Physician's Assistants (PAs) but you'll need to earn a master's degree from an accredited program first. While it may seem demanding, these positions require advanced training, specialization, and dedicated professionals, all of which can be developed through post-graduate study.
3. They Can Lead You Further
Some people decide to pursue a masters-level degree because they thrived in university studies and aren't ready to enter the 'real-world.' While this isn't a great reason to earn a master's, if you have a knack for academia and are considering a career as a professor or researcher, then a master's degree is a fantastic idea. Most PhD programs require candidates to have completed an MA or MS in a related subject, and a master's program will give you the opportunity to find out if focused research and academic life are right for you. Remember that master's studies are very different from undergraduate degrees. Students are often more independent and research-focused, and the course-work requires in-depth knowledge and original ideas. Master's studies are harder and more stressful, but they're often more exciting because you can focus on subjects that interest you.
4. They Help You Specialize
In fact, one of the biggest benefits of master's-level studies is that you have the chance to focus your knowledge and hone your skills. This can be a huge benefit in the job market because industries and employers are often looking for highly-specialized candidates. It's one of the reasons that Master's of Professional Studies degrees (MPS) are in demand, but traditional MS and MA degrees are also attractive to prospective employees in a variety of fields. While some students enter into post-graduate studies directly from undergraduate degrees, many established professionals enroll in master's programs in order to advance their careers or develop new skills. Lawyers often acquire advanced degrees (on top of their law degree) in order to focus on specific legal sectors, while MBAs are a sure-fire way to achieve success in the business world, especially if you focus on much-needed skills like technology.
5. You'll Earn More
Money shouldn't be the only reason that you choose to pursue a master's degree, but it might be one of them. In some sectors, employees with master's degrees earn up to 20% more than their counterparts with bachelor's degrees, and women with degrees have a smaller pay-gap than those without. And while graduates are, in general, less likely to be unemployed, those with post-graduate degrees have even greater rates of employment. But while some post-graduates have the potential to earn more after they finish their degree, it's important to remember that graduate school isn't always free. Though some graduate-level programs offer tuition waivers, stipends, and even subsidized housing and health insurance, a master's can take between one and three years to complete. And though it's not impossible to work while studying, it can be difficult. So consider carefully before enrolling. A master's degree in engineering will give you excellent credentials and improved your marketability, but you might also leave with increased student-debt and three years of lost earnings.
Are you still unsure about whether a master`s degree is the best choice for you? Read our breakdown of the differences between pursuing a master`s degree and a postgraduate qualification.