Many people who have traditional four-year degrees decide to go back to school to obtain a master’s degree. A master’s degree is the step above a bachelor’s degree and often allows the recipient to apply for upper-division jobs or receive more responsible positions at work. This often translates into higher salaries and better opportunities. However, there are some misconceptions about what it takes to get a master’s degree and exactly what the master’s degree will do for you once you have graduated. Here are some facts about master’s degrees that will help you understand this degree and decide if it is something you would like to work toward.
How Long Does It Take To Earn A Master’s Degree?
The length of time it will take you to obtain a master’s degree is dependent on your area of study and the particular school you choose. At minimum you will probably have to complete 30 semester hours of study; some programs require as many as 150 hours to complete a master’s, although this is a very long-term program incorporating an original-research thesis.
One large difference between different types of master’s degrees is that some are terminal degrees and others are not. Generally speaking, the shorter the program the less likely the master’s program offers a terminal degree. Terminal degrees are considered the end of study in that field and are usually part of the “pure” sciences rather than the social sciences.
Generally speaking, master’s programs take between one and three years to complete. Some programs require a thesis or comprehensive examinations to graduate; others require a capstone project that incorporates the learning from the entire program.
What Can You Do With A Master’s Degree?
Very few jobs require master’s degrees, but many jobs will not hire someone unless they have one. This may seem a contradiction in terms, but it makes sense if you realize that only a small percentage of applicants will have a higher degree. When fifty people apply for a job and only five have a master’s degree, the employer can afford to limit hiring to one of those five.
Having a master’s degree shows that you have completed more training and know more about your subject than someone with a bachelor’s degree. It also shows that you can do graduate-level coursework and stay with a program to completion.
Some jobs do request a master’s degree, especially those in the healthcare or business fields. Other jobs will pay more to someone with a master’s degree than those with a four-year degree. Some fields, such as teaching, base step-raises on higher degrees; only those with a master’s degree can be paid at higher levels. No matter what job field you choose, a master’s degree will almost always enhance your employability and your earning power.
How Much Does It Cost To Earn A Master’s Degree?
You will need to know how much your school charges per credit hour and how many hours you need for your degree to figure the cost of your master’s degree. Some schools charge different hourly rates for graduate classes than for undergraduate classes, so be sure you get the right hourly rate from the school’s website when you are considering various programs. Your hourly rate may also be different if you take online classes as opposed to on-campus classes.
You should also be aware that there will probably be other fees assessed besides your tuition. You will be required to pay health fees and technology fees at most schools, and you will have to buy books or software for most classes. You should also include the cost of travel to and from your classes or internet connection and computer costs if you are taking online classes. Many students make the mistake of underestimating the cost of a degree by failing to include the extraneous costs into their calculations. Be sure to include the cost for these “extra” items in your calculations, or you can estimate by adding a percentage over and above the cost of your tuition.
Where Can I Earn A Master’s Degree?
Not every college offers graduate classes. Some schools only offer two-year degrees and others only offer four-year degrees. In addition, not all schools that offer graduate degrees offer them in every subject. You should search for both on-campus and online programs in your field of interest, then narrow your choices down to schools that will work with your schedule and budget.
Some schools also offer seamless or integrated programs, especially in specific fields such as physical therapy or nursing. These programs allow students to complete six to eight years of school at a single college with guaranteed admission to each stage of the program as long as the student maintains a minimum grade point average and stays on track with classes. This means that the student will be awarded an associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree as he or she completes each level of the program.
Getting a master’s degree can give you much more earning power and can satisfy your personal educational goals. Investigate the possibilities by checking out programs at your current school or online.