Is a Master’s Degree Still Worth the Cost?

Returning to school for a master’s degree during an economic downturn can make sense – why not improve your skills if you’re already part-time? Well, now there is a downside: distance learning can be unsatisfactory, and graduation is still expensive . You will always want to count before signing up.

Reasons for obtaining a master’s degree

Of course, getting more education isn’t just about making more income, but that doesn’t mean that you should also ignore the potential financial benefits. Overall, according to the US Bureau of Labor , you will make more money with a master’s degree, earning an average weekly salary of $ 1,434 compared to $ 1,198 for a bachelor’s degree.

Master’s Degree Will Improve Your Current Salary

Some jobs automatically raise the wages of employees who have graduated degrees (such as teaching), making them a safer investment. But there is one catch in all this, since not all degrees are guaranteed to bring financial benefits. In the labor market, for example, there is less demand for a Master of Fine Arts degree, which, on average, only brings in $ 10,000 in average wages compared to a bachelor’s degree.

On the contrary, you will find more job opportunities and higher salaries if you have a master’s degree in business or STEM. For example, an MBA can increase your average income by $ 80,000 if you work in the financial services industry, 89% more than an undergraduate degree. To see what to expect in terms of wages by type of job, see the breakdown by Arizona on the balance sheet .

The field you selected requires It

In many areas, an advanced degree is a new bachelor’s degree. Certain professions, such as teaching, mathematics, and urban planning, may require a master’s degree just to get an entry-level job (test your field using this professional worldview guide , which sorts professions by minimum educational requirements). Once you’ve reached the ceiling in your profession, earning an advanced degree can be a smart move, especially if it’s necessary to advance to leadership positions.

You can afford to pay for this

The more debt you manage to avoid, the more expensive the payback will be. After all, education is an investment, but investment still comes with risks that need to be minimized. Consider programs to help pay tuition through your employer, such as 401 (k) compliance programs. You should also apply for scholarships and grants – anything that helps offset tuition costs. You can also attend school part-time while keeping your job. Consider cutting costs as well, perhaps by living at home with your parents while you earn your degree, if possible.

Reasons not to get a master’s degree

Mostly online

In a pandemic, schools offer distance learning programs, but costs have remained largely unchanged. You are missing out on the networking and hands-on learning opportunities that can be obtained in labs or student groups. Indeed, many students complain about the quality of learning without communication outside of Zoom.

You have not entered the state yet

If you are starting a new career, experience may be more important early on. A 2018 survey found that when hiring, employers still consider internships, college jobs, and volunteer experiences to be more important than a grade point average or related coursework. People change careers often, so a master’s degree can be a waste if you get some real-world experience in your field and decide you don’t like it. Think carefully about the obstacles in your field: is it a matter of experience or education?

Your desired field does not require advanced degrees

Does your profession require specialized knowledge acquired only after graduation? Journalism is a great example of a profession with relatively low barriers to entry: if you can build that career on your laptop, is it worth your $ 77,000 Master’s degree in journalism in Colombia?

Higher employment rates and salaries are not guaranteed

If you are entering a profession with limited job prospects, you should carefully consider what your goals are for earning your degree. What are the short and long term prospects for your industry? Do you have an idea of ​​what the level of employment is now? This ranking of employment rates by occupation is a good place to start – make employment rates a part of your decision-making process.

Do math

Each school must provide an estimated “cost of attendance” that should be the starting point for your budget. From there, you will need to find out how much of these costs you can cover yourself and how much you will need to borrow from student loans. Finally, you will subtract your total debt repayment (including interest) from your projected income over time to see if it is worth it as an investment. For more information on how to determine the ROI for your degree, the Earnest site has a good breakdown here .

Again, not everyone aspires to graduate in order to make more money, but if you are going to take on a lot of student debt or lose your current income, you need to know the cost of your degree and have a payment plan. for this.


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