This guest contribution was submitted by Jamie Davis, who specializes in writing about masters degree. Questions and comments can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nearly everyone has their views about whether or not a graduate degree, such as a master's degree, is a sound investment. After all, it requires delaying a launch of a career or leaving a current one in order to give due focus to additional schooling. It also can be pricey, as there are fewer scholarship opportunities for prospective master's degree students than associate and bachelor's degree students. However, depending on what field you enter with your graduate education, a master's degree can be a sound thing to pursue.
The tuition cost of a master's degree varies depending on what school and program you enroll in. As a general rule of thumb, a master's degree from a public university typically costs about half as much as a master's degree from a private university. For example, the average cost of a graduate degree from the public University of Texas is $10,154 per academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator tool, while the average cost of a graduate degree from the private Boston College is $21,708 per academic year. There are also online education options that students can look into, which typically clock in at around $300 to $500 per credit hour. As most master's programs take about three years to earn, this degree will cost anywhere between $30,000 and $66,000 without financial aid.
However, the perks to be enjoyed with a master's degree can make the initial financial and time investment well worth it. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that those with master's degrees earn significantly more than those without one. In 2009, the median weekly earnings for a master's degree holder was $1,257, which is $200 more per week than those who only have a bachelor's degree. This adds up to at least $12,000 more per year for master's degree holders than bachelor's degree holders. In as little as two years, a master's degree holder would have earned enough with this increased salary to pay back his or her tuition.
In addition to earning better pay, master's degree holders also enjoy a lower rate of unemployment. In the same BLS report, master's degree holders only suffered from an unemployment rate of 3.9%, which is scant compared to the 7.9% national unemployment rate average. With job security as uncertain as it is during these tough economic times, the lower unemployment rate for master's degree holders is a huge perk.
Yet, those interested in pursuing a master's degree will also need to consider what field they are entering in order to best calculate the real cost of the education. Some fields enjoy bigger payoffs for master's degree holders, while others may not. For example, earning a master's degree in a business-related field is a great idea because many well-paying management and supervisory positions require job candidates to hold a graduate degree. On the other hand, earning a master's degree in a field that emphasizes work experience above all else such as art and communications may not be the best move if your goal is to earn more money.
Overall, a master's degree takes time and financial investment to earn. However, if you pursue this degree level in a field that regularly requires it, your efforts can quickly become rewarded with a higher salary and increased job security.
College Navigator: http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report: http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm