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New Master’s Degree Program Options Can Enhance Your Career

New Master’s Degree Program Options Can Enhance Your Career

The value of higher education is a hotly debated topic, and rightly so. Reports of recent graduates of gender studies programs working in retail and living with their parents are not exaggerated. On the other hand, the media often ignores the ways in which universities are altering their curriculum to meet the needs of the job market. There are no guarantees in the current economic climate. However, those who thoroughly research master’s degree programs and associated costs can increase their chances of improving their earning potential and landing a satisfying job.

Universities and prospective students alike are becoming more focused on outcomes, rather than on pursuing additional education for personal gratification. To that end, traditional programs are becoming more specialized. Some schools are offering MBA programs that specialize in real estate, sports management, health care, bioscience or electronic commerce. Programs are also being designed to meet the needs of emerging fields. Geographic information systems, game design, cyber security, social media and regulatory affairs are industries that barely existed ten years ago, let alone had courses devoted to their study.

Schools are also changing the ways in which their courses are structured. Accelerated, one-year programs, certificate courses and non-matriculating options for professionals are all gaining popularity as options for students who need flexibility or exposure to new technology or developments in their field. These options provide access to faculty, centers and research laboratories without the two or three year commitment.

Prospective students should weigh the financial and professional costs of obtaining a master’s degree when deciding whether additional education will advance their career. There are a number of fields in which earning a master’s degree makes sense. Statistics show that mid-career salary for accountants, civil engineers, mathematicians, and economists who hold a graduate degree are higher for these professions than their counterparts who only have only completed undergraduate work. Job growth in these fields is also higher than average.

These statistics must be balanced with the financial costs of additional education. Tuition, books and supplies are only part of the price tag. Students should also consider living expenses, including housing, health insurance, food, clothing and entertainment when thinking about the real cost. Opportunity costs should also be factored into your decision if you decide to take time away from work. You will spend one to two years in school rather than gaining on-the-job experience. Furthermore, you can miss out on salary increases, benefits and contributions to your retirement fund.

However, resourceful students can work around these costs. Online master’s degree courses can be a good option for prospective students who cannot take time away from work. Many prestigious universities are now offering online courses that allow students a great deal of flexibility to complete the program. Additionally, some businesses offer incentives like tuition reimbursement or stipends to employees who choose to further their education.

Enrolling in a master’s degree program can open doors to new or emerging fields or increase earning potential. Prospective students should balance the possibilities offered by flexible or focused courses with financial and professional costs before making a decision.