13 Reasons to Get a Master’s Degree
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Master's degree-holders enjoy advantages across many sectors and industries. A master's degree can lead to higher pay and positions in leadership.
Whether you're a recent college graduate or a midcareer professional, you may wonder, "Why get a master's degree?" A graduate-level education can open many doors, regardless of your current career level. Professionals considering career changes or looking to advance in their current fields can benefit from master's degrees.
When researching the best master's degree to get, consider factors like earning potential, job demand, and professional opportunities. This page introduces some of the best reasons to get a master's degree.
Why Get a Master's Degree?
1. Allows You to Switch Careers
Graduate-level training helps professionals move into new career paths. Teachers with master's degrees can move into administrative roles to pursue work as school principals. Business professionals can take on management responsibilities after earning master's degrees. A master's also opens doors to clinical careers in social services and healthcare.
It's never too late for a career change. Many graduate programs admit applicants without undergraduate education in the field, which can translate into many new career opportunities.
2. May Increase Your Earning Potential
Professionals with master's degrees earn higher salaries than individuals with bachelor's-level education. According to 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, master's degree-holders earn a median pay that is $240 more each week than that of bachelor's degree-holders.
A graduate degree also translates into a lower unemployment rate. In 2020, the unemployment rate for people with bachelor's degrees sat at 5.5%. Individuals with master's degrees benefited from a lower 4.1% unemployment rate.
3. Makes You More Competitive in the Job Market
In an increasingly competitive job market, a master's degree helps candidates stand out. While many employers hire candidates with bachelor's degrees for roles in business, technology, education, and healthcare, they often prefer applicants with master's degrees.
Some professions also require a master's degree. For example, school principals, nurse practitioners, and clinical social workers must hold master's degrees. A graduate degree opens new career opportunities in these fields.
4. Boosts Your Career in Your Current Company or Industry
In many careers, a master's degree can help professionals advance within their current company or industry. For example, many teachers pursue master's-level education to increase their salary potential. A master's degree can also help business professionals move into supervisory roles.
Companies often understand the value of supporting employees who pursue advanced degrees. Many businesses even help graduate students pay for their master's degrees through employee tuition remission programs.
5. Keeps Your Knowledge Up-to-Date
A master's degree helps professionals stay up-to-date in their field. Research in many disciplines moves so quickly that professionals can easily fall behind. A master's program offers a structured format to keep knowledge current.
Many graduate programs also admit students without prior experience in the field. In these cases, a master's degree can provide focused skills and knowledge.
6. Allows You to Bring New Research to Your Field
Master's students study the most current research in their fields. Learners in graduate seminars and courses read academic journals, critically analyze research, and broaden their understanding of their disciplines.
New research can have an immediate impact on graduate students' careers, even before completing their degrees. Educators can apply new pedagogical theories in their classrooms, and business professionals can draw on new studies to improve efficiency and performance.
7. Improves Critical Thinking, Analysis, and Writing Skills
Graduate programs push students to develop stronger research, problem-solving, and communication skills. Master's students learn the research methods in their fields, including qualitative and quantitative analysis. They also strengthen their critical thinking and writing skills.
Master's-level coursework often includes analytical papers. Some programs require master's thesis projects. Graduates can apply these skills in diverse professional fields after earning their master's degrees.
8. Prepares You for a Doctorate Degree
Some doctoral programs admit applicants with bachelor's degrees, while others require master's-level candidates. Students planning to earn doctorates may benefit from first earning their master's degrees.
A master's demonstrates that students can succeed at the graduate level. It can help applicants stand out and gain admission to more competitive doctoral programs.
9. Gives You the Opportunity to Learn More Deeply About a Field You Love
At the undergraduate level, degree-seekers take general education courses and electives. Many majors only require 30-36 credits of core coursework for a bachelor's degree. Graduate students complete more focused study in their field.
Advanced training in one area may appeal to students who want to explore their field in more depth. Master's students study more complex topics and dive deeper into the core issues of their discipline.
10. Allows You to Network
Networking offers an important pathway to career advancement. A master's degree offers many opportunities to expand your network. For example, most MBA programs prioritize networking by hosting events, connecting students with professionals in their field, and requiring internships.
Online master's students can also take advantage of their university's networking opportunities. Attending virtual career fairs, connecting with alumni associations, and joining student organizations can help online learners network.
11. Gives You Access to University Resources
Universities offer many benefits to students, including academic library access, mental health resources, and research funding. Other university resources include health services, the career center, campus childcare, and the writing center.
In addition to these resources, enrollment often unlocks student discounts. Master's students should research discounts on travel, entertainment, clothing, and other expenses.
12. Boosts Your Credibility
Professionals with master's degrees can benefit from increased credibility. Graduate-level study in a focused field provides advanced training. Master's programs connect learners with specialized coursework and a broader network.
In fields where professionals pursue licensure and certification, a master's degree often meets the educational requirements for professional credentials. Nursing, education, counseling, and social work all confer credentials to candidates with master's degrees.
13. May Provide Opportunities to Study Your Field Abroad
During a master's degree, graduate students may participate in international internship programs or conduct research outside of the U.S. Master's programs in certain areas, including international business, nursing, and history, may incorporate opportunities to learn abroad.
Graduate students can also consider earning master's degrees in other countries. Pursuing graduate education outside the U.S. can open new career possibilities, particularly for people who want to work in other countries.
Common Questions About Master's Degrees
Most master's programs take two years to complete. Some universities offer one-year accelerated master's programs. Reach out to specific programs and ask, "How long does it take to get your master's degree?" for additional information.
The best master's degree to get advances a graduate's job prospects or opens new career possibilities. Prospective students should carefully consider their options to decide if earning a master's aligns with their career goals before applying to master's programs.
Many master's programs in business and education prefer applicants with work experience. In other fields that require a master's degree, students may prefer to earn their master's as soon as possible.
No. There is no age limit on earning a master's degree. Many master's programs offer flexible enrollment options that may appeal to working professionals, student parents, and other learners.
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