A master's degree often requires a lot of time and effort to earn, but can be well worth the endeavor for a multitude of reasons. Just a few of the advantages afforded by a master's degree include:
- Higher weekly pay on average: The difference in average weekly earnings between a person with a master's degree and a person with a high school diploma is more than $600. In fact, some careers, such as teaching, may directly increase an employee's pay when that employee completes a higher degree than what they had previously earned.
- Advancement opportunities: In some fields, advancement is prioritized to people who have earned more advanced degrees. This is due to the majority of master's degree programs being structured to teach management and leadership skills as well as in-depth knowledge.
- Lower unemployment rate: Perhaps due to their in-depth skill set, the unemployment rate for people with master's degrees is almost half of what it is for those with high school diplomas.
- Time flexibility: Often, one of the obstacles for professionals considering a master's program is the fact that they are professionals and are therefore generally working long or unusual hours. Making the time to take courses can feel impossible. This is where online courses can be a lifesaver. Not only do they reduce or eliminate the need to commute to a campus — freeing up time for the actual coursework — but online lectures and assignments can often be completed whenever is convenient for you, allowing you to enhance your education without abandoning your career.
Master's Degree Versus Associate Degree
In master's degree programs you study a specific field and often focus on a topic within that subject, like information technology or teaching, in great depth. Generally speaking, master's degrees:
- Are considered to be "graduate level," meaning the courses are more focused and rigorous than courses for an associate or bachelor's program
- Can be completed in two years
- Can be done on a full-time or part-time basis
- Are offered through colleges and universities
- May require a final project or thesis
Reasons to Pursue a Master's Degree Program
The rationale for earning a master's degree can vary from person to person, but as a general rule, a person applying for a master's program is probably interested in one or both of the following goals:
- Advancing skills: The courses in a master's degree program are usually specific to the subject being studied. Such courses enable students to look at the subject in greater depth and even to examine different types of research and evidence-based practices. Some master's degree programs also allow students to concentrate in a particular aspect of their subject to build even more specialized skills. As an example, an online master's degree in information technology may offer concentrations in business intelligence and analytics, information security and assurance, or project management. Earning a master's degree may be particularly helpful for advancing in fields like:
- Switching careers: In some, but not all cases, students may be able to pursue a new career through a master's degree program. An example of this is nursing: some nursing programs allow students to apply even if they have an undergraduate degree in another field. Some schools even offer master's programs in one subject, such as accounting, that only accept students whose previous degrees were in a different subject. Such programs allow a person with a background in multiple subjects to bring unique insight to their career, a trait that may be appealing to a prospective employer.
Occupations That Can Start With a Master's Degree
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, many occupations only require candidates to have a master's degree. Here's a look at some of them:
Medical Billing and Coding, Public Health, Healthcare Services Administration, Allied Health, Psychology, Nursing
|Special Education, Secondary Education, Elementary School Education, Education, Early Childhood Education
|Information Systems, Information Technology,