Obtaining a master’s degree is worth bearing the cost

In today’s world, education is becoming more and more important. For our parents, the standard was the high school diploma and the way to get an edge in the workplace was to get a college degree. Now it seems that our generation’s new standard is a bachelor’s degree and we are now required to obtain even higher degrees in order to make ourselves more marketable to prospective employers.

As college students realize this, more and more are opting to go straight into graduate school upon completion of their undergraduate programs. This fact is made clear by a recent New York Times article, which reveals that since 1970, the amount of students obtaining a master’s degree has increased by 150 percent. The Times attributes this to students needing resources to help them in the workforce. Therefore, the master’s itself has now become a type of investment – a means of earning more income.

It should come as no surprise that students are not the only ones benefiting from master’s programs. Universities themselves are reaping the benefits of the growing demand for these degrees. For example, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences charges $820 a credit on the graduate level. So, for a full-time grad student, taking nine credits would equal around $7,380. At that rate, the program would be completed in four semesters coming to a total of $66,420. And, unlike undergraduate and doctoral programs, master’s degrees come with little financial aid, requiring the student to take out some pretty big loans to cover the charge.

The only financial refuge one can take is to earn a position as a yearly research or graduate assistant in which tuition is partially or fully paid for. These positions are highly competitive and paid for by private donations to the university. However, the overall financial burden has not slowed down the demand for master’s degrees.

According to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, titled “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings,” a master’s degree can make a big difference.

The average American worker who has only a bachelor’s degree makes around $45,000. When it comes to individuals with master’s degrees, the number jumps to $52,000. However, the type of degree also plays a factor in determining the financial output of the degree. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Handbook states that starting level accountants in the federal government start at $24,000. This greatly increases to $37,000 if a master’s is obtained. That is a pretty big difference for those wishing to enter the field. Therefore, those with advanced degrees in Business and Education are more likely to enjoy more earnings than those who earned a master’s in the Liberal Arts or Humanities.

Consequently, Business and Education make up a large portion of those who have master’s degrees. It is then most beneficial for those in the business track to continue education, as they will see their paychecks grow with their education level. But, for those who are interested in English, Philosophy, or History, a bachelor’s may suffice unless a job in the teaching domain is desired.

Whether a master’s degree is a feasible investment is ultimately up to the person. If one can increase his or her paycheck by continuing their education, more power to them. However, there is always the path of education for education’s sake, in that no matter how much or how little their extra degree will earn them, some just want to further educate themselves. If it is worth the time and money, then it is indeed an option that should be looked into.