There are several nuanced reasons why people may choose to attend grad school, but according to Aslanian Market Research, one tried and true theme remains constant. In their most recent study it remained unchanged that the primary driver for online students seeking to further their education is for career related reasons. More than 75% of respondents to their study cited career motivated reasons.[vi]
Below are 4 reasons why going to graduate school may benefit you.
While a profession may not require an advanced degree, it may be helpful for advancement or to distinguish oneself from the pack. Some people may choose to specialize in certain areas of a particular subject such as a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) or a Masters of Taxation (MTax), MS in Strategic Human Resource Management (MSSHRM), an MS or a MHA in Gerontology just to name a few.[i]
While advancing in a field could sometimes lead to higher pay, attending and completing grad school also has the potential to increase a person’s earning potential in certain fields.[ii]For example, in the education field, the level of education one obtains could determine the pay scale they are on in combination with the number of years one has worked.[iii]
If you are considering this reason, be very careful to weigh the costs (including the loss of earnings if you are enrolled full time) with your potential salary after graduation. In particular, research the career center of the program you are interested in, to get a feel for the job opportunities available.
For some occupations, in order to even be considered for employment, an applicant must hold a graduates degree in their respective area. This is not only applicable for doctors and lawyers, but for professions such as Physical Therapists, Counselors, Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, and Social Workers.[iv] In education, a teacher cannot become an administrator without earning a Supervisors Certificate or a MA in Educational Leadership.[i]
According to Aslanian market Research, this is the #1 reason for continuing education[vi]. Despite an individual's level of educational attainment, very few people stay in the same career throughout their entire work life. Reasons for changes vary from being laid off, burn out, or change of interest. However, when the time comes to look for a new opportunity, one's past experience may not be relevant enough to switch careers without training.
Fortunately, most programs do not require an applicant to have majored in the same content area. This makes it easier for someone to pursue a graduate school program in a new field as long as they at least hold a bachelor's degree. Some do however have prerequisites that a student must take before matriculating. nursing is a great example here.
There are direct entry MSN programs where the applicant does not need a BSN but might need to complete prerequisite math and science academic courses in order to have the foundation to handle the rigors of a the program.
If you're interested in learning more about what it means to be a graduate student, or you are interested in finding out more about financing options, check out our grad advice articles. We have enlisted the services of several subject matter experts to help us bring you information and tips about the application process, and how to survive and thrive once you enroll in a graduate school.
Business Administration & ManagementBusiness
Social WorkSocial Work
Education Leadership & AdministrationEducation Leadership & Administration
Healthcare Administration & ManagementHealthcare Administration Management
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Communications & Public RelationsCommunications & Public Relations
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More and more employers nowadays require a college degree. As a result, many jobs that did not require some form of higher education now do. It seems as if a graduate education has become the new standard. When considering the continuation of academic studies beyond one’s bachelor degree, there are several options to choose from including certificates, masters, and PhDs.
Certificate Programs: Generally provide advanced training in a specific area. They are not often required to pursue a position per se, but give alumnus added credentials that make them more marketable to future employers as well as become specialists in certain areas within their field.
Masters Programs: Require the completion of a bachelor's and typically take one to two years of full time study to complete. vi Common types of degrees are the Masters of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS), which can be applied to a wide range of content areas. Other common types include the MBA, Master of Fine Arts (MFA), and Master of Social Work (MSW).
Doctorate Programs: Are often the highest academic award in their field of study. Earning a PhD qualifies someone to teach at the university level as they are now considered experts in their field. PhD programs do not have a specified timeline but often take five to seven years to complete. Common types of doctorate degrees include Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), and Doctor of Education (Ed.D.).
Graduate school admissions are similar to college admissions in that a transcript, entrance test scores, essay, and letter of recommendations are all required. When considering graduate school, the first thing one must do is identify which entrance exam they must take. Unlike applying to college where either the SAT or ACT is accepted at all institutions, graduate school programs require different entrance exams based on the type of program one is applying to.
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) vii is a general skills standardized test similar to the SAT. Like the SAT there are Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections each scored on a 200-800 point scale. For more specialized graduate programs, specific subject-related entrance exams are required such as the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)viii for business, Law Admissions Test (LSAT) ix for Law, and the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) x to attend a medical university or college.
Once an applicant has built their list of grad schools to apply to, the application process is fairly similar to the college admissions process. Fill out the application online and send your undergraduate transcript, personal essay, and letter of recommendations. Because there are far fewer graduate programs than undergraduate programs they tend to be more competitive. If an applicant passes the paper round then they are often times brought in for an interview round. These interviews may be one-on-one or in groups. Many times graduate work involves extensive research and the admissions committee wants to ensure that a graduate student will work well with others in their respective departments.