Prove Your Understanding With a Master’s Degree

There is a relatively new trend influencing both the professional and academic world today: more and more people are opting to pursue a master’s degree. The National Council for Education Statistics reports a 63 percent increase in the number of working Americans who have earned a master’s, and this number is expected to increase to 90 percent in the next few years. 

One motivation for this trend is that people with a master’s degree earn more money. The median weekly wage for women and men with a master’s degree is about 20 percent higher than it is for those with a bachelor’s degree. To bring more perspective to the situation, the average salary for those with a master’s is around 70K, while the average for all professionals is around 38K.

Another reason that master’s degrees are becoming more popular is that the job market has become more competitive. Positions that only used to require a bachelor’s degree now require a master’s. This is known as “degree inflation,” and not only does it put more pressure on current students, but it puts working professionals with only a bachelor’s in a tough spot as well. Often, these women and men will have to take classes part-time while working full-time just to keep their jobs, let alone advance in their careers. Occupational therapists, nurse practitioners, substance abuse social workers, urban planners, statisticians, and educational administrators are all examples of jobs that now require a master’s degree.

This is the first degree that one can earn under the umbrella of graduate studies, and it firmly establishes one as a subject matter expert in his or her field. While many people treat their master’s degree as an extension of their undergraduate studies, not all do. A small number of master’s degrees simply require that you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree. For example, the Master’s of Business Administration, or MBA, does not focus on prerequisites. You can have a bachelor’s degree in any subject and still apply. In general though, because of the advanced and specific nature of graduate studies, it might be very difficult to obtain a master’s in a subject that you didn’t study as an undergraduate. A bachelor’s in history likely wouldn’t prepare you for a master’s in engineering.

While it typically takes anywhere from one and a half to two years of full-time study to earn a master’s, this is by no means set in stone. Also, many students are working professionals while pursuing a master’s, and if they take only one class a semester that could stretch the process out to five years or more. Ask for specific guidelines from your advisor and/or department chair before beginning your program. Another consideration is cost. Federal financial aid consists mostly of loans at the graduate school level, and you need to be registered as a full-time student to qualify. If money is a consideration, you may want to consider alternatives to traditional education, such as online learning. Also, some employers will offset some or all the tuition in return for your continued service. A quick phone call to your HR representative could save you thousands.


4 schools found

Bryan University

AR, MO & Online

Bryan goes above and beyond to make each students’ experience exceptional. We want our students to leave with more than an education. We want them to have an unforgettable experience.

Colorado Technical University


Since 1965 Colorado Technical University has been proud to educate career focused students to advance their education and help achieve their goals. CTU’s commitment to provide innovative, real-world...

Northcentral University


Northcentral University was founded in 1996 to provide working professionals around the world with unprecedented access to richly engaging, professionallyrelevant, and academically-rigorous education...

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)


Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing...