Going to graduate school is a deeply personal choice. It requires a commitment of time and effort, not to mention cost investment. However, graduate school also offers a number of benefits. Professionals who earn a master’s degree, for example, frequently earn more across their lifetime than their peers who hold a bachelor’s degree. Graduate school allows students to improve their understanding of a specialized academic area, making them experts in their field. Some career fields also require a graduate-level education for qualification or advancement. If you’ve found yourself wondering, “Should I go to grad school?”, here are a few key benefits and caveats to consider.
Top Reasons to Go to Graduate School
Wondering whether and why you should go to grad school? Here are just a few benefits of pursuing a master’s or doctorate study.
1. Increase Your Income Potential
As a graduate of a graduate program, you’ll have a higher earning potential than those who don’t hold a master’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, working professionals who hold a graduate degree have the potential to earn $11,000 more annually than those with a bachelor’s education. Additionally, those who continue their education and earn a doctorate can possibly earn an additional $27,000 per year.
2. Follow Your Passions
Graduate programs, unlike most undergraduate programs, are hyper-focused on specific academic disciplines. For example, you might pursue a master’s degree in Counseling or Education. In either program, your coursework will be completely tailored to your field of study. You do not need to take core, general education courses in a graduate program. Therefore, these programs will provide you with the opportunity to become experts in your chosen field and delve deeply into the topics that interest you. The specialization of grad programs is just one of the many reasons why some may choose to pursue graduate school. Additionally, even if you majored in a somewhat different topic during your bachelor’s degree, entering a graduate program may provide you with the option of changing career paths.
3. Change Career Paths
Occasionally, there comes a time in a person’s career when they want to reinvent themselves. Sometimes the best way to do that is by pursuing a graduate degree. A master’s degree can open doorways to new career paths and opportunities. For example, if you have a bachelor’s degree in Biology but dream of becoming a nutritionist, earning a master’s degree in Nutrition can afford you the opportunity to pursue that career path.
4. Qualify for Your Dream Career
Some career paths require a graduate level education, which is why many people choose to go to graduate school. For example, aspiring Chiropractors are required to earn a Doctorate of Chiropractic in order to practice in this field. Postsecondary professors, career counselors, and education administrators also require a graduate level education before launching their careers. Some healthcare professions, like a Physician Assistant, require a master’s degree to become licensed to practice. If you are looking to qualify for a certain career, or advance in your profession, a graduate degree is a valuable asset. This is because graduate programs prepare students with comprehensive, career-oriented skill sets, in order to find success in highly involved, highly specialized, and often high-paying fields of work.
5. Make Connections for Your Future
One of the reasons you may choose to enter a graduate program is that grad school offers you the chance to make meaningful connections that can benefit your future career. In graduate school, you’ll have the chance to create long lasting connections with professionals who can help you get your foot in the door of the industry you’re hoping to enter. Networking is such a key facet of graduate school, in fact, that networking can help up to 60% of MBA graduates find a job after graduation.
Other Considerations for Graduate School
While graduate school can be inordinately helpful to graduates looking to improve their employment opportunities and earning potential, there are certainly some details to consider before embarking on your graduate school path.
While many Ph.D. programs provide their students with funding, master’s programs may not offer more than scholarships or grants to prospective students. The total cost of tuition for some two-year, full-time graduate programs can be more than $100,000. Even with an affordable program, there is still a likelihood that you’ll need to take out loans. In fact, 40% of all federal student loans issued each year are taken out by graduate students. That’s why it’s extremely important to take cost into consideration before entering a graduate program. Carefully research what financial aid offerings your future institution has to offer and whether or not their assistance will be sufficient. For prospective graduate students at the University of Bridgeport, there are several financial aid options available – and there is no fee to apply to the school.
A master’s degree can take up to two years to complete, depending on the program. Some terminal degrees, such as an MFA, can last as long as three years. For students who are highly motivated to enter their chosen field sooner, rather than later, finding a school that offers an accelerated option can be helpful. Otherwise, students should be prepared to be in graduate school for a minimum of two years.
Students who need to continue working through their graduate studies should also consider pursuing an online degree. More and more, graduate schools are providing their students with online options that are affordable, asynchronous and in some cases, faster paced. These programs don’t sacrifice quality; however, they do provide their students with the flexibility they need to complete their education while maintaining their other responsibilities.
Flexibility is key in a graduate program. For example, a master’s degree in Public Health can frequently be completed in as few as 12 months, making it possible for graduates to begin their careers more quickly. However, as courses are taken asynchronously, it is possible for graduate students to complete their studies at a pace that suits their lifestyle. Similarly, an MBA can typically be completed more quickly than a standard graduate degree program, and some schools offer online MBA options to students.
Graduate school requires commitment of both time and money. Still, the investment is well worth it. For career advancement, an in-depth exploration of your passions, and improved employment options, there’s no better foundation to build off of than graduate school.
Is graduate school in your future? Learn about University of Bridgeport’s graduate offerings and apply for admission, here!