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Do I need a Master’s Degree? Pitfalls of grad school education

Posted: February 27, 2018

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As college graduation approaches in the next few months, many students have one question on their minds. Do I need a masters degree or should I focus on my career first? It isn’t an easy decision to be sure. There are both advantages and drawbacks to continuing your education. Here we will weigh the pros and cons.

If you have your bachelors and are now wondering if you need an advanced degree keep reading. The following guide will help you to decide whether or not you should consider masters programs. We’ll cover the benefits of a masters degree, as well as some reasons why your undergraduate degree may be enough for now.

There Are Jobs That Need a Masters Degree

How useful is a masters degree? That depends. In some careers, you absolutely must have one. It simply isn’t an option. Here is a list of careers where a masters or other graduate degree is required.

  • Librarian - You need a graduate degree to become a librarian. Those who wish to become librarians first obtain a bachelor's degree in any field of their choices such as communications, political science, or literature. Then, after graduation, they apply to programs that offer graduate degrees in Library Information Science or other related fields.

  • Teacher - Yes, you can get an entry-level job as a teacher with a bachelor's degree. However, many schools require a masters degree within a limited number of years. There is also a significant difference in wages between those who have advanced degrees in the teaching field and those who do not.

  • Nurse Practitioner - This is a field that continues to be in high demand. Not only are there significant job openings for nurse practitioners, salaries in the field are high. This is also a rewarding job. In many cases, Nurse practitioners diagnose patients, prescribe medications, and lead medical teams.

  • Music or Art Therapist - Music and art therapists work in a variety of settings ranging from preschools to nursing homes to prisons. They use music and art to help people cope with trauma, learn more about themselves, and much more. While programs vary, most involve getting a bachelor’s degree in art or music with a minor in psychology or other fields. Others require studying psychology or therapy and then minoring in art or music.

Keep in mind that this is a limited list. There are several other fields where masters degrees are highly advisable.

The Salary For MS Graduates in The US is Higher

The truth is, people with a masters degree earn significantly more money than those with an Associate's or Bachelor’s degree.  For students who ask, do I need a masters degree to get a Ph.D., the answer is nearly always yes. While there is no masters degree for doctors, many academic disciplines require advanced degrees before pursuing doctoral studies.

The Intellectual Benefits Shouldn’t be Minimized

There are many reasons to get a masters degree. Many of these are minimized while the aspect of salary is often the sole focus. Yes,  many do earn more money with a masters degree, but that shouldn’t be the only consideration. The truth is, there are intellectual and societal benefits to getting a masters degree.

Keep in mind that it is the people who have a masters diploma or higher that are the true experts in their fields. They tend to be the ones who drive innovation and act as leaders in fields ranging from business to software to academia. They are the associate professors in colleges and universities. They are political policy advisors. The truth is, society benefits by having highly educated people who are true experts in their fields. If you have a passion for a particular discipline, you may be a good fit for obtaining an advanced education in that field.

Masters Programs Are Rigorous And Not Everyone is up to The Challenge

Many students find the workload in graduate school to be significantly more difficult than undergraduate school. As a result, some simply cannot keep up with their studies. Fortunately, there are ways to get help. TAs are almost always happy to provide guidance. Students can nearly always find a study group. It’s even possible to find writing help by reading the best essay writing service reviews, and selecting an excellent writing service provider.

Grads May Benefit From Getting Work Experience First

Why do I need a masters degree now?

Truthfully, the answer to this question may be that you don’t.  There are some careers where you can absolutely benefit from time out in the ‘real world’ applying what you have learned and gaining practical experience. When you return to school later to finish your graduate studies, you will likely find that the combination of education and experience are very beneficial.

It Can be Difficult to Afford The Cost of a University Masters Program

It would be nice if the price of tuition wasn’t a factor in making this decision. However, the truth is obtaining a masters degree can be quite pricey. You may be looking at expensive private loans along with other aid. Some may qualify for grants or scholarships, but there is no guarantee of that. Not only this, but it’s also important to consider the cost/benefits of obtaining a masters degree in your field. For example, is it worth going 50k in debt if your expected salary won’t cover that debt over the course of 20 years?

Prolonging Education Can be an Unhealthy Coping Mechanism

There’s a phrase, ‘professional student’. Basically, it’s a disparaging remark describing someone who extends their education for years. They may do this by constantly switching majors, earning multiple undergraduate degrees, or by pursuing higher education. Some do this for very legitimate reasons. Others do so to avoid full-time employment and adult responsibilities. They pursue their studies for years. They often live at home or rely on educational benefits to fund them.

It may be a good idea to do a bit of a gut check. If you can honestly state that your pursuit of higher education is for valid academic or career purposes then, by all means, apply to colleges and universities until you get into a great program.

Conclusion

The choice is yours! Depending on your goals and current situation you may be best off diving right into a masters program. If not, it may be best to delay the process for a few years. Ideally, the advice above should give you the guidance you need.