How you can tell if graduate school is right for you

How you can tell if graduate school is right for you

You've completed your undergraduate studies and have found that you still hold a passionate interest in your field. You're considering taking the plunge into graduate school, but you're not entirely sure it's the right choice. While you're excited to continue your studies, the financial and time implications are giving you pause. If you're on the fence about returning to academia, here are a few things that can help convince you that pursuing higher education is right for you.

Your Career May Potentially be Enhanced by a Graduate Degree

For some prospective students, the decision to go to graduate school is made much simpler by the fact that their chosen career path requires it. We’re all familiar with these usual suspects - doctors, lawyers and sometimes even school administrators all need to hit the books and earn a higher education degree to qualify for career options in their field of choice. Of course, not all professional requirements are the same. Doctors typically have to go through medical school, then complete a residency, while lawyers typically undergo about three years of law school. In contrast, social workers, therapists or teachers often just need certifications or licensing to practice. If you already know you're going to need graduate school for your career, the next step is to determine exactly what that path is going to look like.

A Graduate Degree Might Help You Stand Out

Even if your professional sights aren't set on being a doctor or a lawyer, graduate school can still be a beneficial career move. The classic myth is that some graduate students tend to be too specialized to be of much use outside the academic field in question, but this is rapidly being proven false.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with a graduate degree usually experience less unemployment and higher median monthly earnings. As the source reported, those workers with only a bachelor's degree averaged median weekly earnings in 2013 of just over $1,100. In contrast, master's recipients averaged $1,329 per week while doctoral graduates averaged $1,623. Moreover, graduate students fared well against the rest of the nation in the unemployment ratings as well. The national unemployment average in 2013 of 11.1 percent was reduced to 3.4 percent among those in the workforce with a master's degree. Ph.D. graduates were even more employable, seeing an average of only 2.2 percent unemployment.

About the Author: Laura Morrison is the Web Content Manager for She earned an MBA from the Rutgers School of Business in 2010.

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