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Is A Master Degree Worth It?
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According to the Census Bureau, the number of people with a master’s degree increased by 50.2% in the 10 years from 2011 to 2021. In 2021, approximately 24.1 million Americans held a master’s degree, representing approximately 13% of the US workforce.
. In addition, more than 8 million Americans are expected to complete their doctoral studies between this writing and 2030
To answer this question, we need to look at the pros and cons of investing years in your life to earn a second degree.
When we talk about higher education, the conversation is never so black and white that we can just boil it down to a general list of pros and cons. Instead, your expected return may vary depending on what you choose.
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Some career paths require a master’s degree. For others, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, as a master’s degree is an expensive investment with little return.
Let’s see if a master’s degree is worth the investment, especially if you’re pursuing a career where you can reap significant benefits.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021 the median income for those with a master’s degree was about $81,848
. If you earn a master’s degree, you will likely earn a better salary than someone with a bachelor’s degree, whose median income was around $69,368 in 2021. Even so, you will likely make less money than those with a Ph.D. or professional qualification.
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For context, the average salary in the United States is $76,554 and the median annual salary is $56,473 for all occupations and states.
The impact of a master’s degree on your career prospects depends on what you choose. So let’s take a look at some career choices that benefit from a college degree
U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nearly half of all jobs paying more than $94,000 a year require a master’s degree
The fields of mathematics and natural sciences, engineering, education, information science and healthcare benefit most from doctoral training.
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According to the forecast of the Labor Statistics Office, the number of jobs requiring a doctoral degree will increase by 16.7 percent by 2026.
A master’s degree can increase your earning potential throughout your life. When considering whether a master’s degree is worth it, you might ask yourself how many more years you have to wait to start working. The longer you expect to stay in the workforce, the more beneficial a master’s degree may be. Studies show that even after age 50, those with a master’s degree can expect to see their income continue to rise, but those with only a bachelor’s degree tend to see their earnings peak in their mid-forties.
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When it comes to determining whether a master’s degree is worth it in terms of job prospects, it’s worth noting that the unemployment rate for those with a master’s degree is around 4.1%, compared to 5.5% for those with a bachelor’s degree. So a master’s degree gives you a slightly better chance of finding a job.
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This lower unemployment rate benefits those with a master’s degree. First, it means they are more likely to keep their jobs during tough economic times. This lower unemployment rate highlights the impact that earning a master’s degree can have and will help you stand out from the rest of the pack when applying for jobs.
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Last but not least, one of the factors that make you consider a master’s degree is the opportunity to network with others in your chosen field, thereby improving your career prospects. The relationships you make with your professors and peers during your graduate studies can help open doors for you or even create future business relationships.
Deciding whether a master’s degree is worth it requires weighing the clear advantages of the right doctoral program against the disadvantages, especially before committing two or more years of your life to advanced academic study.
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The cost of a master’s degree varies by program and college. Teaching at a private, non-profit college will be more expensive than at a public school.
These are just tuition fees. You also need to consider rent, food, bills and other living expenses. If the education is full-time, you will not have an income for two or three years.
Students with a master’s degree tend to have more debt than those with a bachelor’s degree. The average master’s degree holder owes about $46,798 in student loan debt, about 37% more than the average bachelor’s degree holder. This is another important factor to think about when you’re wondering if a master’s degree is worth it.
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The program and college you choose will have a big impact on the tuition you pay. There are several other factors to consider when asking whether a master’s degree is worth the investment:
The costs we have discussed so far have been financial. You also need to consider the amount of time you have to invest in getting your master’s degree.
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Although a typical master’s degree lasts two years, this period can be extended to three years, especially if you cannot afford to be a full-time student. If you have a job and a family to support, a part-time job as a master may be the only viable option.
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Some programs limit the number of years you have. For example, a program may state that you must earn all the required credits within a certain time frame or you will fail the program.
Other programs may offer an accelerated track, allowing you to collect all your credits in just two semesters and complete your degree in one year instead of two.
You need to consider the opportunity cost of a master’s degree. This means that your time with your master prevents you from doing other things. For example, you can work extra hours instead of studying, or spend more time with friends and family and invest in your social life. The bottom line is that you must be willing to sacrifice these opportunities for your master.
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For example, it’s important to consider whether a master’s degree is worth it for your career because earning a degree can make you overqualified for many entry-level positions. So if you see an opening at a company you want to join, be careful. The employer may assume that you are only applying for the entry-level position as a stepping stone or temporary source of income until you find a better one.
As a result, the employer may suspect that you are a short-term worker and discourage them from investing in you.
Is a master’s degree worth it or not? It depends on what you choose and your particular circumstances.
It matters where you study. Private schools cost more than public schools, but the school you attend also affects your earnings after graduation. If you get your master’s degree from an accredited college, you should expect a higher starting salary than if you attended a non-accredited school.
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Employers care if your degree is from an accredited school, but your chances of receiving financial aid skyrocket even if you graduate from an accredited institution.
Even when you compare two accredited universities, you will usually find that one is ahead of the other in terms of future prospects. Dartmouth’s Tuck School boasts on its website that the average starting salary for the MBA class of 2022 was $175,000. In contrast, Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker School of Management proudly announced that its MBA class achieved average annual starting salaries that same year. $75,000 salary, less than half that.
One of the biggest negatives of a master’s degree is its associated price tag
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