How do I Define the Value of a Master’s Degree Program?

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It is important to know just how important a Master’s degree can be in your profession of choice, especially if a student is not 100% sure about another year or two of education. There are many professions where a Master’s degree is not the be all and end all. However, most careers can be greatly boosted by a further degree, especially in salary terms. Individuals who complete their Master’s earn significantly more than those who only have a Bachelor’s degree.

Earning Potential:

Increased earning potential is the biggest lure of a Master’s degree. While having the additional degree is also a pleasant bonus, the opportunities it provides are extremely valuable. However, a lot of people do not realize that this increased earning potential is not universal. No two degrees will provide the same increase in salary. For this reason, it is vital that a student researches their degree of choice before making a decision about the Master’s program.

For example, students who study Biology or Life Sciences can earn 70% more after they get a Master’s degree. Similarly, social science workers increase their earning potential by 55% compared to a Bachelor’s degree.

On the flip side, students who study journalism or communications will only see a 20% or 25% bump in pay through a Master’s degree. Given the cost of the degree can be anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000, this may not represent an adequate return on investment.

Resource: Top 10 Cheap Online Master’s Degrees

Work Experience vs. Master’s Degrees:

In a lot of fields, especially over the past few years, work experience is given as much weight as a Master’s degree. Someone who completed their Bachelor’s and then worked at a prestigious company for five years can get the same job and salary as someone who went straight from college to a Master’s program and only has brief interning experience.

With the economy still struggling to recover from the recent recession, many Master’s graduates are finding themselves put in the shade by people who have less qualifications but more experience. In the end, many of these Master’s degree holders end up with entry level jobs that could just as easily be obtained with only a Bachelor’s degree.

Do Your Master’s, But Later in Life:

The best advice that a prospective Master’s student can get right now is to wait. The age of getting a Master’s right after college is gone. Even one or two years of work experience is not enough. If you want to be in a position to get an elite salary straight out of Master’s school, spend at least four or five years building up your resume at reputable firms. With the right combination of stellar work experience and a Master’s degree, there is a far greater chance of getting an important job and an excellent salary.

Calculate Cost vs. Benefit:

Number crunching can be crucial when deciding whether to pursue a Master’s degree. Firstly, take into account how long the Master’s program of your choice will take. If it is a two year program, and costs $75,000 a year, you are looking at a $150,000 hit. In addition, that is two years that cannot be spent working, which is another $80,000 to $90,000.

With the above example in mind, the cost of a Master’s degree could be valued at $230,000 or $240,000. If the person in question was earning $80,000 a year before going for their masters, and only saw a 25% pay rise, it could take them close to ten years just to break even from the cost of a Master’s degree.

The value of a Master’s degree is not as simple as it was ten or fifteen years ago. The importance placed on work experience, lower salaries, and fewer job opportunities mean that students need to think long and hard before deciding between finding a job or pursuing another few years of education.

 

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