Do I need a graduate degree?
Updated By Staff Writer on April 15, 2020
As you near your undergrad graduation, you may hear talk of applying for grad programs and getting a graduate degree. Some of your peers may ask you what your plans are: Are you going to go to grad school? What programs are you applying for? How long is your grad program?
You likely just completed four to five years or even more of undergrad study, and now you have to figure out if you want to go back for more years of study, or focus on your next career move (or both!). Before you decide, here are some important things to consider why you should or shouldn’t pursue a graduate or Master’s degree.
What Is a Graduate Degree?
Grad school is simply further study during which students can obtain advanced degrees in a more niche subject. You won’t have to take any general courses that are part of the undergrad degree; your study will be much more specific.There are two types of graduate degrees: a Master’s and a doctorate. The main difference between these two degrees is the number of years it takes to earn each. A Master’s degree typically takes two years, while a doctorate can take around four. Some students may choose to get a Master’s before going on to their doctorate (and it may increase the chances of getting into the doctorate program in some cases), but it’s not always necessary.
Two to four more years of schooling is a big commitment to make. Going to grad school isn’t for everyone, but how can you know if it’s the right choice for you? Take a look at the list we’ve compiled of reasons to decide if grad school is right for you.
Reasons to Get Your Graduate Degree
You should consider going to grad school if the following are true.
You can’t get a job
If you’re having a tough time finding a job in the field you got your undergrad in, a Master’s or doctorate degree can qualify you even more for your field of choice or give you a great head start in an entirely new field.
Be aware that neither of these degrees will qualify as actual work experience. Having a higher degree will speak to your education, but if you lack work experience it may not matter.
You want to get ahead in your professional field
When you specialize in one field of study, you become an expert in that field. Choosing to go to grad school will give you those credentials and likely make you more appealing to the companies you want to work for. The right degree could also increase your chances of getting a promotion. If you work in IT, for instance, getting your MS in Information Systems could put you in a great position to become the Director of Information Technology at a large company, or even the Chief Information Officer (CIO).
You’re interested in a field of study
Getting a graduate degree is hard work. You’ll spend a lot of your time focused very closely on whatever material you’re studying. If your undergrad wasn’t as interesting as you thought it would be, if you are interested in a different but related field of study, or even if you’re curious about a field you have no experience with, the amount of time you’ll spend studying and learning about that field could make you an expert.
Don’t feel like you have to pursue a Master’s in the same field you studied for your undergrad. Expand your horizons and learn new things.
You work for a company that offers to pay for tuition
Some companies offer tuition assistance for undergrad or grad programs—especially in fields of study related to your job. Graduate programs cost money, so if the company you work for is willing to pay for at least part of that cost, you should seriously consider taking the offer and getting a Master’s degree.
You want to teach as a professor
Did you really enjoy the academic aspects and fun environment of college? Getting a Master’s degree and qualifying to teach at a college might be the right fit for you.
Depending on the graduate degree you pursue, there may be other teaching opportunities available as well. For example, a degree in Nursing Education can lead to positions where you’re teaching nurses or even educating patients.
You want to stand out as a job candidate
Prospective employees who obtained a Master’s degree are automatically going to stand out to employers. If you took the time to earn a Master’s degree, that says a lot about your work ethic, dedication, and passion for the area you studied. Not to mention, employers like employees who are not only well-informed, but hard-working.
Reasons Not to Get Your Graduate Degree
While the above are great indicators grad school would benefit you, there are some other factors that indicate you may not have anything to gain.
You’re trying to find yourself
Grad school costs money. Lots of it. We don’t recommend pursuing a degree that will cost you thousands of dollars if you’re only doing it in an attempt to discover yourself or figure out what you want to do with your life. Only go to grad school if you know it’s what you want.
You don’t actually need or want a Master’s degree
Maybe the field you studied in your undergrad doesn’t require that you have extensive or a Master’s level of knowledge. If you don’t need a Master’s degree, don’t get one. Don’t go into debt or spend thousands on a degree you don’t need.
To avoid a bad economy
Although a graduate degree can definitely improve your chances of being hired, there’s no absolute guarantee that a grad school degree will get you the job you want. If the economy isn’t in a great place, don’t bet on your upper-level degree securing a good job.
To defer student loans
Student loans don’t go away. In fact, they more often than not accrue interest. If you think going to grad school is a good idea simply because you don’t want to worry about your debt, think again. The debt will be waiting for you once you graduate.
To postpone the real world
College degrees take years to accomplish. By the time they come to an end, the reality of getting a job and living in the real world can hit pretty hard. But that’s no excuse to continue with your schooling. Don’t avoid the inevitable. If you truly want to pursue a Master’s degree, go for it. If you’re just considering it because you don’t like the idea of living in the real world, take a moment to think things through.
It could take 2 to 4 years
Like we mentioned above, grad school takes a lot of time to complete. Depending on where you’re at in your life (married or single, children or no children), two to four years on top of your four- to six-year undergrad degree can take its toll. Carefully consider the amount of time you’d be putting into a grad school degree and be sure it’s what you want to do.
The extra cost
College costs money. It’s a simple fact. If you aren’t in thousands of dollars of debt by the end, you’re in the minority. A grad school degree is going to cost even more. Don’t choose to pursue a higher degree without being completely aware of how much it’ll cost you.
Contact Independence University
Grad school isn’t for everyone. But it can be the right choice for you. If you’re seriously contemplating whether you need a graduate degree, learn more about Independence University and our online graduate school programs today.