Before entering the job market, many college students wrestle with the decision to pursue master's degrees. Statistics show that people who hold master's degrees tend to enter the job market at higher pay scales than their counterparts with undergraduate degrees. However, earning a master's degree requires more time -- usually at least two more years of college -- and a lot more money. Is the tradeoff worth it? Would the career benefits of holding a master's degree be more beneficial than having a two-year head start in the work force? When making this decision, students must think about factors such as their financial health, their career goals and their current opportunities. The answer on whether to pursue a master's degree varies from person to person, but knowing which questions to ask can help you reach the best decision for yourself.
Would my employer pay some of the costs toward my master's degree?
Many large companies provide tuition assistance benefits for employees who want to go back to school. The catch is that employees must be enrolled in programs that will enhance their careers, making them better assets for their employers. If your company offers these benefits, you can save thousands on your tuition without even needing a scholarship.
Can I get a scholarship toward earning a master's degree?
Undergraduate college is already expensive, and going for a master's degree could add tens of thousands of dollars of tuition to your debt. Any kind of scholarship to help pay for grad school is very beneficial in the long run.
Are any entry tests required for graduate school?
To get into grad school, many universities require students to take a standardized entrance test such as the GRE, LSAT, GMAT or MCAT. These tests should never be taken lightly; considering that most grad school applications have high grade-point averages, your entrance test score could be the deciding factor in whether you get accepted. If you need to take one of these tests, you can find numerous test preparation courses on college campuses and online.
Are master's degrees expected in my chosen career?
Earning a master's degree is less beneficial in certain lines of work. In other careers, a master's degree may be required. If a master's degree isn't an expected credential in whatever you plan on doing after college, then you shouldn't feel as much pressure to attend graduate school. Talk to a guidance counselor to learn more about educational norms in your chosen career path.
What grades do I need for graduate school?
If you're still an undergrad, talk to your counselor about the academic requirements of getting into grad school. Maintaining a high GPA through college is a must; better to learn this lesson early than apply for grad school and be disappointed.
How will this master's program help me build connections?
College is all about networking, and your master's program should offer plenty of opportunities for you to make new, professional contacts in your field of study. These contacts can be made through guest instructors, job shadowing, internship opportunities, professional work requirements and more. Ask about this ahead of time to make sure you'll continue to get exposure to your future peers while finishing your education.
How is the job market in my line of work?
The ultimate goal of pursuing a master's degree is to enhance your career opportunities, but what if right now is too good of a time to stay in school? If the job market is hot, you may be better off applying for positions and spending your next few years working rather than sitting in classrooms. On the other hand, if the job market is slow, then you may be better off finishing your education now.
Do students need professional experience in this program?
Some fields require graduate students to work professionally as part of their studies. This must be accounted for as students plan where they're going to live and how they're going to make money while still in school. Different programs may have different work requirements, so ask about this as you weigh your options.