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Reasons for Pursuing a Graduate Degree

by Susan Revermann

It is only natural for prospective, current or recent college graduates to think about the future and what direction they want their lives to go. Entering the workforce or continuing on the education path are the main choices available. Those who finished college a long time ago may also be looking for a change or a chance to learn something new. Though there are many personal reasons a person might pursue a graduate degree, there are also several common reasons people seek out higher degree programs.

Career Opportunities

Completing a graduate program can open up more career opportunities, especially in a challenging job market. Many employers like to see or even require advanced degrees on a resume. With that graduate degree in hand, it may be easier to get into the field you are interested in, giving you precedence over a candidate with no college experience or a bachelor’s degree alone.

Knowledge

Choosing a graduate program that focuses on the career path that you truly want provides specialized knowledge and experience in that field. College grad students have opportunities to conduct research, explore new technology, learn new methods and study advanced information that the average person doesn't have access to. Going to graduate school in a program that focuses on your field can help you do a better job in your current job as you expand your understanding and learn new information that can increase your skills and knowledge.

Money

Frequently, but not always, people with graduate degrees make more money than people with no extra schooling or minimal education. With that graduate degree on your resume, you can request a higher salary during interviews and expect a fair amount of compensation for your knowledge, skills and background. One mistake that is often made, however, is unrealistic expectations of starting at the top -- you do have to start somewhere and work your way up, gaining experience to enhance and refine what you've learned in your education. It is part of the workforce process.

One Step Closer to a Doctoral Level

Some people set their sights on a doctoral level degree, and attending graduate school is the way to get there. Often, people choose a Master's degree program in a specialized area and continue with the field or choose to fine-tune the area of expertise even further. Some fields, such as academia, require a terminal master's degree or a doctorate degree before they will consider a candidate for hiring.

Considerations

Before jumping at the chance to attend grad school, consider a few issues first. Completing a graduate degree takes time and money. Some people have a hard time financially through this period. You could choose to work part- or full- time and attend graduate school part-time to make ends meet. Avoid going to graduate school if you're just going because someone told you to or you don't feel ready to enter the workforce. The choice should be yours and for the right reasons.

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