Master’s Degree ROI: Is Grad School Worth It?

is grad school worth it?

Depending on your career path, a master’s degree can open doors and help you climb the corporate ladder. It can also help you earn more money and build your professional reputation.

But getting a master’s degree isn’t necessary for everyone. Before you apply to a program, find out whether or not a master’s degree is worth your time and money.

Then ask yourself, “Is grad school worth it?”

In some fields, a master’s degree is not really necessary. And, it will only give you more student loan debt. Look at the entire return on investment (ROI) a degree would give you.

Should I get a master’s degree?

When you are looking at graduate school programs and planning your academic future, consider your potential salary, employability, and the cost of a master’s degree.

Then, compare the cost of graduate school–and student loan interest–with the boost in salary it may give you to decide if grad school is a good idea.

Salary

One of the biggest factors to consider when determining “is grad school worth it?” is salary.

In some industries, a master’s degree may increase your chances of getting hired, but will not impact your earnings. In others, a master’s degree can translate to a huge bump in income.

Payscale, a site that compiles self-reported data, has an in-depth salary database. You can find out what people in your role make in your region, and how much a graduate degree can affect your salary.

It’s a useful resource for determining if another degree will boost your earning potential or not.

Additionally, if you are looking to work at a larger company, check out Glassdoor. You can find out how much more those with a master’s degree make than their co-workers with only a bachelor’s.

From PayScale and Glassdoor’s data, you can see that a master’s in science, technology, or engineering usually results in a much higher starting salary.

By contrast, if you plan on entering marketing or advertising, a master’s degree has a negligible effect on your earnings. And if you plan on working in the latter fields, a master’s may not be necessary.

Employment data

While a salary number can be a helpful indicator if a master’s degree is worth it, it’s not the only factor you should consider.

In some fields, open positions are rare and far-between. People in certain jobs may be paid well, but breaking into that industry may be incredibly difficult.

To find out what your chances are of finding a job and earning a good salary, review your field’s employability data with the following tools.

Also, take a look at an interactive report the Federal Reserve Bank of New York put together called the “Labor Market for Recent College Graduates.”

This report outlines unemployment information by industry, underemployment data, starting salaries, and mid-career income. It also highlights how many people in the industry have a master’s degree.

All of this information can help you determine your likelihood of finding a job and gauging what your income may be as you climb the corporate ladder.

Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers job growth projections to see what industries can expect growth or decline over the next ten years.

This information can help you see what fields need a graduate degree for an extra edge. And, which fields a master’s degree may be unnecessary.

In fact, there are some careers where a master’s degree can even be a detriment.

Since a master’s degree is often associated with higher income, companies will deliberately pass over candidates with graduate school on their resume because they would have to pay them more.

Therefore, carefully consider market conditions before enrolling in school.

Cost of program

On average, a year in a university’s graduate program will cost about $30,000 at a public school and close to $40,000 at a private one.

Keep in mind that the cost of a master’s degree is dependent on a range of factors, such as your program, location, and selected school.

Before enrolling, ask how many students graduate within two years and how many need more than that to complete the program.

If most students need an extra semester, that will indicate that you may need to budget for another year of school expenses. And, that added cost may offset the benefits of a master’s degree. That’s why program completion is a major factor to consider.

Is grad school worth it?

There are many different factors to keep in mind when deciding, “Is grad school worth it?”

While a master’s degree can increase your chances of landing a good job and a larger income, it is not necessary for all industries or career paths.

If you can get a degree at a school at a fraction of the cost, thanks to a scholarship or your employer, then getting your master’s can be a smart decision.

But if you have to enroll in a costly program for only a modest bump in income, it may not be worth the expense and time.

At the end of the day consider all factors and use the tools listed above to determine the return on investment for a master’s degree. Then you’ll finally have your answer to that burning question.

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Published in Graduate School, Income, Making Money, Student Loans