In a tough economy many people are mulling over the pros and cons of graduate degrees — and they’re definitely not all recent college grads. Although unemployment has fallen in the past few years, wages have remained stagnant which has many people wondering about the benefits of a master’s degree, whether it gives you greater earning potential and, if so, whether it makes up for the high cost of higher learning.
A recent University of Michigan study shows that people with college and graduate degrees are reaping the benefits. According to the study’s authors, “While hiring of graduates with bachelor’s degrees should see a 15 percent jump, the news is even better for new associate’s and professional degree holders, with each category seeing a 23 percent spike. Master’s degree hiring should be up 10 percent, the first sizable jump in several years.” That’s what we like to hear!
When you’re weighing the pros and cons of graduate degrees, it’s important to consider the field you’re entering and the type of job you hope to get. As a rule, a higher salary and better job prospects are benefits of a master’s degree but often real-life work experience is almost as valuable — and you get paid for it. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce study of Economic Value of College Majors compares the earning potential for different levels of education in a range of fields.
Debt is another huge consideration. The average undergrad owes $30,000 in student loans and grad students wind up owing an average of $41,000. If you’re already in debt after college, racking up more can be daunting. On the plus side, there is a lot of financial aid, that doesn’t need to be repaid, in the form of fellowships and grants available for graduate students. Employers are also beginning to recognize that student debt repayment is a huge perk for millennial recent grads which could also lighten the burden.
Besides potential earning and potential debt, it’s likely that your current relationships and finances will be very strained for the next few years. You may have to temporarily take a major pay cut if you’ve been in the workforce for a while. Because it’s a major life change as well as grueling and time-consuming, grad school is notoriously hard on relationships.
Going to grad school is a big decision so take the time to do your homework and make a list of your personal pros and cons. It could be the beginning of a whole new career!