What Is an Advanced Degree?

Updated on April 2, 2024

At a Glance

  • Advanced degrees, such as Master of Arts, Master of Science, and Master of Business Administration, provide specialized knowledge and expertise in various fields.
  • Pursuing an advanced degree can be beneficial as it may be required for certain professions, improve earning potential, and satisfy personal interests.
  • Before deciding, individuals should ask themselves why they want an advanced degree, assess whether it will help achieve their goals, consider the financial implications, and explore alternative options.
  • Keep in mind that advanced degree programs typically take at least 1.5 years, with the duration varying based on factors such as field and program requirements.

Congratulations, you’ve just earned your bachelor’s degree! There’s nothing in the world that’s quite as satisfying as graduating from a bachelor’s program, and with good reason. People who hold a graduate degree are more likely to find employment than those who don’t.

But is finding a job the natural next step? Some of you out there might be considering further education. But the financial strain that an advanced degree will place on your resources, along with the time commitment that it requires, might be giving you pause. So, is an advanced degree really worth it? Let’s take a look.

Types of Advanced Degrees

Advanced degrees are meant for people to hone in on a particular specialization that interests them. An advanced degree allows one to become an expert in their chosen field. There is a diverse range of advanced degrees that you might opt for, and all kinds of advanced degrees and STEM degrees are available no matter what field in which you did your bachelor’s program.

The common types of advanced degrees include:

  • Master of Arts
  • Master of Science
  • Master of Research
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Education
  • Master of Laws
  • Master of Music
  • Master of Engineering, and so on

Reasons To Pursue an Advanced Degree

Needless to say, there are several ways in which an advanced degree would be helpful to you in your career. However, here are the three main reasons you should consider getting an advanced degree:

It’s Required

You might be in a field that is highly demanding in terms of your education. For example, a bachelor’s in medicine doesn’t allow you to practice medicine legally. In such fields, having an advanced degree is an absolute requirement, which means that you are left with no choice but to pursue it.

If you are in such a field yourself, then make sure to do some research on colleges that offer programs that are the best fit in terms of your long-term career objectives.

Better Earning Potential

It has been statistically proven that possessing an advanced degree not only cuts down the risk of unemployment by half of that of those who hold bachelor’s degrees, but an advanced degree will also help you earn more.

For instance, in 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released an infographic with statistics related to the earnings of the holders of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It was found that those with an advanced degree earned $12,000 per year than those with bachelor’s degrees.

Satisfies Your Interest

Let’s face it, a bachelor’s degree is just not sufficient to quench your thirst for knowledge in a particular field. The kinds of subjects that you will be studying will be varied, which is why many opt for an advanced degree to indulge in their chosen interests.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Getting an Advanced Degree

Deciding to pursue an advanced degree can be challenging for most people. Here are four questions that you can ask yourself to help you make the decision.

Why Do You Want an Advanced Degree?

Some fields indeed require an advanced degree, and if you’re pursuing such a field, then this question pretty much answers itself. If, however, this is not one of the main reasons you wish to pursue an advanced degree, try to think about the motivation driving you towards this decision.

Is it to help you earn more in your career, or is it simply to avoid the hassles of getting into the job market for a few more years? Is it to specialize and become an expert in your field before you begin working? A little bit of introspection in this regard will go a long way.

Will an Advanced Degree Actually Help You?

To answer this question, think about your long-term goals. For instance, some people wish to get an advanced degree as a part of their retirement plan, as they wish to take part-time teaching jobs. If an advanced degree helps you fulfill your long-term career objectives or even your life goals, it might be a wise choice to pursue one.

Is an Advanced Degree Financially Worthwhile?

If you have a scholarship or a grant that will cover your education, then there’s not much for you to worry about. But if you are paying for your advanced degree out of your own pocket, you will have to consider a lot of things.

Advanced degrees are usually expensive, which means that you have to make a financially sound decision. You need to ensure that you will be able to recoup the finances that go into getting your advanced degree. To do this, you will have to research the kinds of jobs that would be available to you once you have an advanced degree, the salary that you can expect, and the increase in salary that you will get with experience. You can also opt to work during your education period, which can help cover some of the costs.

Remember that merely holding an advanced degree does not guarantee you a job right after your graduate. Several other factors might come into play, such as geographical location, visa validity, work experience, industry requirements, and so on. Factor all of these aspects into your calculations, and you will be able to tell whether an advanced degree would be financially worth your while.

What Are Your Alternatives?

If you wish to further your education, an advanced degree is not the only option available to you. You can even get a credential or a certificate that might serve you just as well (or sometimes even better) in your career than an advanced degree.

Work experience is also an essential factor for several fields, and you can opt to work for a couple of years before beginning an advanced degree program. Work experience will not only make it easier for you to get into a master’s program, but it will also help you discover your specialties and interests.

How Long Does It Take To Get an Advanced Degree?

Advanced degrees require you to commit at least 1.5 years after your bachelor’s. However, some degrees may take at least two years or sometimes even more to complete. Keep in mind that several factors may affect the length of your study, and depending on those factors, you might get an advanced degree in a shorter or longer duration of time.

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So, do you think an advanced degree is the right fit for you? If you do, then don’t fret! Having a distinction such as an advanced degree is definitely going to get you places in life. If, however, you still feel unsure of whether you need to pursue an advanced degree, we suggest talking to people who work in your field and getting some real-world advice from them. This is a big decision to make, of course, so take your time before you take the plunge!

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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