EmploymentSocial Issues

Is It a Good Idea to Pursue a Graduate Degree?

Should you pursue further studies after your undergrad? This has been a question I’ve heard many times over but never really bothered to look into. Why is it popular to have a graduate degree? The amount of university graduates pursuing graduate studies have skyrocketed in recent years. It has also been said that higher education equals higher earnings, resulting in better job stability. There are so many varying factors that could influence your decision to pursue grad school or enter the workforce after your undergrad.

You could pursue a professional degree, which prepares the student for a particular profession by emphasizing the skills through theory and research needed for the job. Or, you could pursue a master’s degree which indicates that a student has undergone study demonstrating a mastery of a specific area of study. You could even pursue a PhD/doctorate’s degree which is the highest level of academic degree. Let’s look at some pros and cons of pursuing these graduate degrees.

Pros:

Professional Degree: Having a well defined career path once you complete your studies.

Since professional degrees enable you to acquire and practice the skills needed for the profession you have chosen, it ultimately leads you to the career that you want. After all, if you want to work in a certain field, you must pursue a relevant degree.

Master’s Degree: It could potentially advance your professional career.

These degrees are perceived as credentials that could advance a career without being associated with a particular profession or as a tool to allow for a career switch. It is a great degree to have if you are passionate about a particular career that you have in mind.

PhD/Doctorate’s Degree: Have a career in academia.

This is a degree that is exclusive to research. The majority of candidates have the intent of entering academia or research. It is definitely well paying for candidates once they land a position in their field of expertise. In addition, many with PhDs go into health policy work, government work, or for private companies as well.

Cons:

Professional Degree: Debt, Debt, Debt.

Employment data is very important here. For example, a degree in law could potentially be a gamble because there’s an overabundance of lawyers and a lack of well-paying positions. At the same time, a student could rack up to $200,000 of debt while studying in law school. 

Master’s Degree: Gaining work experience may be more important than spending time in the classroom.

It is essential that you do your research on if your future career. Does your chosen career value experience over education, or is it the other way around? In addition, you may also be sacrificing your time in school for possibly increasing your experience and income. In many cases, it may be more practical and effective to take a few relevant continuing education classes or do a focused certificate program than to pursue a master’s degree.

PhD/Doctorate’s Degree: Lack of well-paying jobs in academia.

There is a lack of job prospects in academia. It is important to research the state of the job market in your field of expertise. Academia jobs fluctuate, and the majority of the jobs go to adjunct professors with no benefits, job security, and abysmal pay.

Overall, higher education does look better along with your bachelor’s degree. Whether you decide to pursue it or not is up to you. Career trends always change, and it is essential that you consider all your options before you pursue that graduate degree. 

Author

Is It a Good Idea to Pursue a Graduate Degree?
Lawrence Cheung is a writer at INKspire. He's currently an undergrad student in Carleton University's Political Science Program.