Guest Author - Elizabeth Stuttard
Should you earn a masterís degree? That is a question which you should consider carefully before investing your time and money to do so. There are very good reasons to earn this degree, but there are also good reasons not to. You need to weigh the pros and cons before you decide whether the masterís degree will help you to meet your goals.
What Kind of Work is Required?
As a distance learner the time may be longer or shorter depending upon your circumstances, but the total work you need to do will add up to the amount you would spend in two years working on it full time. In online masterís degree programs you are often required to be present on campus for some classes, group work, or exams. Be sure to check that out when you are making a decision about which school you will choose. Graduate work is more intensive and demanding than undergraduate work. This means that you will spend more time per class doing the work which will include studying the coursework prepared by the instructors of the courses, a great deal of research, and usually working with other students on projects. Therefore your motivation and your time management skills need to be excellent.
You will need to write a thesis or a comprehensive exam to complete the masterís degree. In addition, for most professional degrees, you will have to spend a period of time working in the professional field to earn your masterís degree. Sometimes this means hundreds of hours of supervised work experience will have to be completed.
How Much Does a Masterís Degree Cost?
Tuition ranges from under $10,000 per year to $30,000 per year. On top of that is the possible cost of books, technical fees, insurance fees, residency fees if you need to attend on campus for a period of time, application fees, and non-resident fees if you donít live in the state where the university is. However, many online degrees do not charge non-resident fees. Student loans are available for masterís degrees and scholarships are also available. Unless money is no object for you, you will need to do some research to get the best education for your money.
Will a Masterís Degree Be an Advantage in Your Career?
You may decide that it is worth it for your own personal goals to get a masterís degree. However, if you are hoping to make more money because you have a masterís degree then this is another area where you will need to do much research. In some cases it is an advantage salary-wise, and sometimes it is not. It seems to be an advantage in many fields such as business, engineering, science, and education, but there is very little difference in salary between those with or without a masterís in the liberal arts or social sciences. Often the best way to decide is to work in your field for a while and then, if it becomes obvious that a masterís degree will be beneficial, you can begin work on it at that point. Of course there are some careers, such as social work or psychology, that require a masterís degree to get your license in the profession.
Earning a masterís degree can be a very worthwhile endeavor but you do need to research it carefully to make sure that it will help you to accomplish all of your goals. Talk to your friends, other students who have earned their degree, your teachers, employers and anyone else you can think of to find out what they think. There are people who have earned their masterís degree who think it was the best thing they ever did. There are also those who feel it was a total waste of their time and money. Find out why from both types of people to help you make the decision in your life. Since you are a distance learner, and need to use a great amount of self-discipline to complete this degree, it really is best to know that it is definitely the right decision for you.