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Is Getting a Master's Degree The Right Choice For You?

Last updated on 28 Nov 2020
Is Getting a Master's Degree The Right Choice For You?

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By: Clare Jasmine

Master’s degree is not for everyone

What occupation are you pursuing by getting a Master’s degree? This is a fundamental question that you should be asking yourself before deciding to go to Grad school.

To scale up the career ladder, some occupations require proof of qualification in a form of a Master's degree to fill specific high positions, such as doctors, lawyers, academics, and managerial level in businesses. Other positions in other fields may not necessarily mandate the applicants to have a Master's degree, but they like to deepen their knowledge and get networking access offered by the university.

Different types of applicants have distinctive sets of expectations and goals. There is two most common type of people who are interested to go to Grad school: the people who had experienced working in the field and fresh bachelor graduate. Either of the two, people who consider taking a Master's degree should have great judgment for the career prospect that the degree offers. It wouldn't be wise to go to Grad school for a reason of ambivalent what to do in your current situation.

Doing a Master’s degree requires substantial investments such as money and time. It is costly to get a Master's degree, especially if you do it overseas. Moreover, the time to finish grad school usually takes up one to two years (depending on the program) during your high productivity years. The trade-off from getting a degree should be higher than the amount of money and time you spend for Grad school since you could allocate for something else.

Why does it make sense to invest in getting a Master's degree, and who are the people suitable to do Masters? Let's take a look at some of the most popular considerations in deciding to pursue a higher education degree as well as the factors to consider:

Do It For A Purpose

If you are experiencing low levels of productivity, drive, interest, and high levels of stress, alienation, and burnout, you might have been sticking in the wrong job. A work after all has more meaning and be a force of happiness to you if it is aligned with your values. To be stuck in a wrong job is not uncommon since you might have different interests before or you found that you are not fit in the line of work. By doing a work that you feel that you are making contributions will give you a sense of purpose which gives you stronger motivation to push through even when the times are hard.

Enhancing your knowledge in the subject that you like by going to Grad school can be a good idea. It can potentitally make your career transition runs smoothly.

To make a career change, you need to be convincing. A degree can guarentee your value and expertise to the recruiter by showing that you got the skills and commitment to occupy the position you seek after.

One thing that should be emphasized is the value of your degree depends on the focus of your career. A job switch that has little correlation with the program will degrade the value of your degree. For an example, if you plan to dedicate your career to do Accounting, your Master’s degree in Accounting will be a worthy investment to move up the ladder and getting higher job prospects in the field. However, if you switch your career to unrelated subject such as cooking, then the degree will offer little value to be implemented in that field.

Be Sure Before Taking The Risk

The simple answer for this is: People who are certain with the career they want to pursue that is aligned with the degree subject.

Many graduates suggest that having enough practice professionally before entering Grad school will give you substantial benefits. The real experience of working in the industry of your choice is irreplaceable; not only you learn about business organization and etiquette, but you will also figure out whether your interest and learn to solve problems that usually occur on the field.

Make The Investment Worthwhile

All of your noble reasons to pursue a Master’s degree at the end of the day has to be aligned with the predicted prospects that the degree brings. A good starting point is to do your research in the workforce real-time. Learn from the job postings where employers articulate the technical and soft skills they seek from an employee. Every job vacancy postings is a glimpse into the real world of the labor market. From the job advertisement, you can identify skills where employers face gaps in the market which you can find training programs that can make you stand out and increase your job market prospects.

Where you get your degree is an important aspect to consider to make your investment worthwhile. A study found that where you get the degree matters as much as having it. Therefore, creating a list of qualities that you want to obtain from the program is a good strategy to find the university that offers the most based on what you are looking for. The list can vary from the type of classes, lecturers, research facilities, to career counsel support. After sorting out the list, do your due diligence of each program from the universities' webpages and compare which universities offer the best programs according to your needs. Overall, you want to be able to see the cost and benefit of each program and make a decision that can give you the most out of your academic experience.


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What to Expect When Applying For Master’s Degree

“Courage is willingness to take the risk once you know the odds. Optimistic overconfidence means you are taking the risk because you don’t know the odds. It’s a big difference.”

-Daniel Kahnemann

Financial Investment

Grad school can be costly. The average cost of obtaining a graduate degree varies widely from school to school and even program to program, but you're looking at spending between $30,000 and $40,000 per year. However, the cost of grad school is more than just the cost of tuition and fees. It's also the cost of lost wages, which can double or even triple the real cost. This is another factor to consider when calculating how much income you're going to lose from the two or three years that you won't be working.

There are some common ways to finance your studies from fellowships to scholarships, corporate stipends to loans. A great start to consider the options is to find what suits you best.

Specifically for the scholarship opportunity, the technical approach to look for it has a lot to do with the chemistry between what you are looking for and what you have. Your program study, the degree you are pursuing, citizenship(s), and country have a lot to do with the choice of eligible scholarship you can apply for. The process of creating a list of the available scholarship is in this order, respectively:

  1. Choose your study major
  2. Choose a suitable university of your choice
  3. Look for the scholarships that are available for students with your characteristics.

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Time Investment

This is a core aspect to consider before deciding to go back to school and everything else that entails. The need to get a Master’s degree comes from wanting to leverage your understanding and accelerate your reputation after getting enough professional experience and spending foundational education in the subject. You have to dig deep into what the degree will teach you, and how you are going to use it.

As a rule, you are foregoing the opportunity to generate the income you had before while completing your degree. So, take advantage of the time you have by using the available resources to your advantage. Make the most out of your time and money!

Entry Required Documents

The list of documents that each universities ask may differ to one another. However, generally, the required documents that need to be submitted are:

  1. Transcripts from all the universities you attended for bachelor’s degree
  2. Degree certificate(s),
  3. Recommendation letters
  4. Motivation letter
  5. GRE/GMAT score (depending on the program), and
  6. Language competency certificate (depending on the langauage use to teach).

Preparing all of the documents needed will take a some time, usually around four to six months before the deadline to submit. Not to mention the practice you need to do before the tests! Be detail-oriented with the deadlines - you don't want to miss submitting the documents pass the designated dates.


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Although your identity consists of far more than your education level or career, a master’s degree is certainly an achievement of which you should be proud of. When you earn a graduate degree, you have also earned additional value and credibility that invites a high level of respect.

However, just like any other big decisions in life, you should assess the risks that come with it. Move forward with your interest to go to Grad school with enough research. Then, after weighing the pros and cons you can begin the preparation, compilation of required documents, and so on. It can take four-six months to get everything ready, so a strong will and clear vision will help to remind you to not give up along the process.

The statement of ‘nothing worth it comes easy’ is applicable for this context. If you feel challenged and even more driven to apply for Grad school after reading this article, great. Knowing well firsthand what lies ahead gives better expectations of what you will encounter which can prepare you with the level of hard work and focus needed to successfully attend Graduate school. However, if you feel deterrent of doing it, hey, maybe you should re-evaluate your motivation to go to Grad school.