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Master's Programs


Although higher education isn’t for everyone, if a bachelor’s degree isn't enough to guarantee you a dependable job or consistent promotions and raises, a master’s program might be worth looking into. Depending on the type of master’s degree you are looking to obtain (e.g., an MBA, MA, or another master’s degree), the costs can seem prohibitive, but the benefits are tempting.

It’s important to have a good idea of what you stand to gain from completing a master’s degree, whether you choose to do it through night school, online, or at a traditional university. If it ends up being right for you, there is much to gain from additional education.

 

Benefits

Increase in Salary

Not only will you increase your knowledge with a master’s degree, but you will also increase the number of zeros on your paycheck. Many companies will reward their employees for their hard work towards a master’s degree with a raise and the possibility of increased benefits. A recent study by the U.S. Census Bureau, cited on the WorldWideLearn site, showed that those who invested in a master’s degree on average earned two-and-a-half million dollars during the average span of a 40-year career.

 

Continue an Education

When you participate in a master’s program, you are also extending your education by expanding your knowledge about your specific degree. You will gain a thorough understanding of your field that will further increase your ability to excel at tasks while at work and also to help those around you. Many people who study beyond a bachelor’s degree agree that the classes and students involved are much more focused on learning and generally provide a more enjoyable experience.

 

Varying Time and Locations

One of the most difficult factors for working professionals searching for a master’s program is scheduling flexibility.

Luckily, with the standardization of the Internet throughout the United States, there is an increased amount of flexibility among class times due to entire degree programs being offered online. Many programs offered online are drastically cheaper than standard degrees, but still provide the same credentials upon their completion. If working remotely from a computer is not your thing or the Internet is not consistently available, you may also want to consider obtaining your degree by attending night school. These courses will often be accelerated, which means they can be done in half the time of a normal degree. The downside is the obvious increased workload because the degree is still the same.

 

Increase Skills

Another organic benefit of getting a master’s degree is increasing your knowledge and use of your career skills. Many programs, especially those in medical universities, will have on-site schooling, and hands-on experience will be a necessary part of obtaining the degree.

 

Pitfalls

Time

Choosing the right time to get your MBA can be a challenge. Working outside class is not only important for your income but for your education as well. The best programs available will not admit students who do not have years of experience. You have to ask yourself if this is the right time for you. Are you ready to juggle work and school? You also have to determine if this is the right time economically. As the economy declines, some people choose to go back to school for security. Others consider further education a downfall. When you try to get a new job, you might be overqualified.

 

Cost

Master’s programs are very expensive. The cost of a full-time two-year master’s program averages to about $108,000. This means that every nine-month academic school year, you are expected to pay around $54,000. Most people cannot afford such high payments out of pocket. Student loans can add up quickly in a master’s program, and they must all be paid back.

 

Effort

Obtaining a master’s degree does not guarantee employment. An MBA is reported to increase your salary between $10,000 to 30,000 per year. Although that sounds like a high number, MBA debts can take decades to pay off. If you know that the salary for your field will not see an excessive increase with further education, it may be impractical to pursue a master’s degree.

 

Online Downfalls

Pursuing further education online seems like a great idea. Unfortunately, online courses take away some of the best parts of higher education. You are choosing to isolate your learning, which decreases social opportunities. Online education means that you will not see your professors in person. If you have a problem or question, you may be at the mercy of an e-mail or forum posting. If you require personal attention and quality time with your instructors, online education may not be for you.

 

Pricing

An advanced degree can open many doors in your chosen career, including higher earning potential and access to management positions. However, these benefits come at a cost.

 

Program Cost

Master’s programs can be very expensive. Tuition costs, thesis fees, application fees, and entrance exam costs quickly add up. The average cost of a master’s degree program at a public university is $13,800 per year. At a private university, the cost is closer to $36,000 per year.

 

An MBA is one of the most expensive degrees and is estimated at around $40,000 for a nine-month program. Despite the costs of attaining an MBA, more people are pursuing this option than ever before.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 5,000 people completed an MBA in 1960, compared to the current annual total of more than 150,000.

 

Weighing Your Options

When deciding on which master’s program makes the most financial sense for you, it is important to weight the total cost with the new opportunities resulting from having a master’s degree. It also pays to consider whether to attend a public or private university and to find out if applying for financial aid is a feasible option.

 

Conclusion

Better salary and improved career opportunities are just a few of the reasons you might consider taking a master's program. If you're seeking an MBA, the cost is high, and the time investment should be considered carefully before you decide to take a program. However, the salary benefits can be enormous.

 

While taking an MBA program, you'll need to invest significant time and effort, as well as money to pay for the tuition, which is often high. Yet, despite these pitfalls, you may find it worthwhile to simply improve your skills related to your career or intended career path, continue your education in a more supportive and enjoyable environment, and eventually reap the financial rewards of higher education.