A master’s degree is awarded when you have completed a graduate-level program. Before you can enroll in a master’s degree, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree. Most master’s degree programs take two years of full-time study to complete. However, there are accelerated programs that can be completed in a shorter time.
There are many different reasons to consider earning a master’s degree.
- Advance your employment
- Earn more money
- Work in research
- Obtain a PhD
Will a master’s degree get what you are looking for? If you increase your education will you reach your career goals?
Certainly, anyone with advanced education has added potential to achieve more. However, some tend to get their master’s degree for the wrong reasons. Here are some examples of the wrong reasons:
You have obtained a bachelor’s degree and cannot find an entry-level job.
This example is too common. Recent graduates feel the burden of the job search and decide to invest more time and money into their education. The truth is… Once you complete your master’s degree you are competing for the same job as others with a bachelor’s degree and likely paid the same. Why? You don’t have any experience. Try addressing your career goals. What type of engineer do you want to be? What are your passions? Do your goals require a master’s degree?
You are stuck in your current position and want to move up the ladder.
Essentially, there is nothing wrong with this approach unless you fail to ask your employer. Many professionals obtain a master’s degree without determining if it will help your advancement. Ask your company for assistance. They will appreciate your effort to continue your education—and may pay for you to do so. It’s well worth the conversation, and often companies have allocated money for their employees’ continued education. If not, take a deep look into your career goals. Is it necessary to have a master’s degree to obtain those goals?
You want a different job.
When I speak to professional that are dissatisfied with their current role they often ask, “Should I get a master’s degree?” My response, “Will a master’s degree allows you to obtain your career goals?” The question often befuddles engineers. Why? They haven’t addressed the problems with their current situation, an alternative solution, or even spent time to find their goals.
How do you decide?
Prior to enrolling in a master’s degree program ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it align with my career goals?
- Does it align with an opportunity?
- Is it a personal goal?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, go for it, but be cautious. An advanced degree will help you obtain the knowledge and skills for career advancement, but it’s up to you how you use them.
How to Choose a Program
Finding a master’s degree program can be difficult. There are thousands of schools offering even more specialized programs. Consider the following when choosing a program:
- Cost: How much is tuition? How do they compare? Can you get financial aid?
- Location: Online or in class? Close to home?
- Selectivity: How many students are accepted each year? Do you meet the admissions requirements? Do you need to take the Graduate Record Examinations?
- Accreditation: Is the school accredited. If so, by whom?
- Specialties: Does the school specialize in a field you work or want to work in?
- Career services: Does the school help you get an internship while you are in school or a job after graduation.
- Curriculum: What will you learn? How will it prepare you to achieve your goals?
- Faculty reputation: Who teaches the classes? Are they leaders in their field?
- Program reputation: What do employers and recruiters think of this school?
Tell me your thoughts below.
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