Wondering whether a master’s degree is right for you?

There are many factors to think about when making this decision.

Time and Money

Advanced education can require significant commitment of time and money. Here are some considerations to take into account:

  • Tuition and fees: Graduate school cost varies not only based on which school you choose to attend (public or private, traditional or online), but also on the particular program. What can you reasonably afford? If you need to finance the degree, how will you manage that?
  • Potential savings: Are there options that could help you reduce overall tuition, such as scholarships, military or employer discounts, or tuition reimbursement? Are you able to accelerate your program by earning credit for real-world experience and education, or do you have credits to transfer from another program?
  • Other costs: Tuition is only part of the monetary equation. Other potential costs of a master’s degree include books, supplies, and transportation. You may also need to factor in living expenses (rent, food, utilities) if you decide to move on or near a traditional university campus, especially if you’re going to become a full-time student.
  • Years to earn the degree: The time it takes to complete a master’s degree can vary depending on numerous factors, including part-time or full-time enrollment, number of transfer credits, and program requirements. Everyone’s circumstances are unique, but finding the most efficient way to earn a master’s is a universal need.
  • Daily classroom and study time: The actual time to earn a degree is made up of numerous hours of classroom and study time, and those can come at a cost to your life. Consider how you will make time for study among work, family, and social commitments.

All of the above might seem like considerable costs, but the master’s degree could be well worth your investment in the long run—especially if you’re able to achieve your goals for earning the degree in the first place.

What You Want to Get Out of a Master’s Degree

When considering the time and financial commitment, there’s another question to ask: Why do you want to pursue a master’s degree? Determining if you will get a good return on your time and money investment rests on the reasons why you want to get your master’s degree. Make sure you’re not just doing it because you think you need to. Examine the real motivation for making this big choice.

Some career factors include:

  • You may need a master’s degree to land a job. There are many jobs that do not require an advanced degree to gain an entry-level position. However, a master’s degree may be required for some careers, such as school counselors, social workers, and physician assistants.
  • You may need a master’s degree to get promoted. Many companies require an MBA or equivalent as you climb the corporate ladder. Or, at the very least, a master’s degree could help put you one step ahead of the competition. Check with your HR department on the specific requirements for the promotion in your sights.
  • You want to become licensed. Some careers, including many in the counseling field, require advanced degrees for licensure. Requirements vary from state to state, so if licensing is your goal, be sure to research what your state needs.
  • You want to change professions. If you’re looking to switch from one industry to another, getting your master’s degree will help you gain you the skills and knowledge you need to make the transition.
  • You want to brush up your professional skills. If you’re feeling stuck in your current position, and it’s been a while since you’ve had any sort of training, going back to school to get your master’s degree is a great way to polish up your skills and learn new ones. This could help you feel more confident and give you the boost you need to apply for a promotion or explore options outside of your company.
  • You want to get a doctoral degree. Depending on the program, you may not need a master’s degree to pursue your doctorate. However, the extra coursework and intellectual aspects of a master’s program could prepare you for the increased challenge of a doctoral program.


Which Kind of Master’s Degree?

If you’ve sorted through the time and financial commitments, as well as your reasons for wanting a master’s, you still have one big decision to make: What kind of master’s? Many fields today have multiple master’s degrees with varying educational and career focuses and outcomes. For example, if you’re thinking about a master’s in IT, you could look at an MBA, which provides knowledge skills in both business management and IT, or you could consider an MS in Information Technology, which focuses more on developing your skills and knowledge in the science of technology than on business management. Take time to work through the sometimes fine distinctions between degrees before you apply.

Getting a master’s degree can help you pursue new directions in your career. Once you’ve taken the time to work through the details, you’ll be much better prepared to take that first step with the confidence that comes with a strong decision-making process.

Learn more about earning a master’s degree from Capella University, and how graduates rate the return on investment of their degree. Select degree programs are available through FlexPath, Capella’s self-paced learning option.