Master’s degrees are not only intellectually rewarding, they also enhance your skills and employability and can help you move in a new career direction
A good education can always be made better with a Master’s. Recruiters nowadays demand more and higher qualifications so it will be hard to impress them with just a BA on your CV. In fact, master’s is now the new bachelor’s – they are the stepping stone for your career launch. Dr. Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of US Graduate Schools, notes that “several years ago it became very clear to us that master’s education was moving very rapidly to become the entry degree in many professions”. In other words, jobs nowadays are becoming increasingly ‘skilled up’ and anyone who wants to boost their marketability should consider going back to university. Also, it is a truth commonly acknowledged that master’s degrees have a non-economic, purely educational value – they turn your passion for a subject into an in-depth understanding of it. Here is a recap of what makes master’s degrees so valuable – both literally and metaphorically speaking.
Universities are still our think-tanks
Though it is not impossible to self-educate in today’s world of hyper, cyber communication and over-information, universities remain the place to go to when you want to gain specific knowledge, hone your professional skills or simply get into contact with a faculty that ‘knows their game’. Universities are still the biggest think tanks available and if you pick the right one (with rankings above the average) you will study under world-leading academics and professionals, meaning that cutting edge research and the latest critical thinking will inform your curriculum. Moreover, a master’s gives you the practical knowledge and vocational expertise you need in order to pursue the career of your choice. It gives you the theory and then compels you to apply it. It also allows you to pursue a specialist area of interest that you developed during your previous studies or in your career. Some MA programmes allow you to specialise through optional modules and a dissertation or a research project on a subject of your own choosing. This in turn means that you have the opportunity to build a programme that reflects your own interests and which will be intellectually rewarding.
Master’s degrees bolster your marketability
The reality is that education is an investment unlikely to suffer devaluation. Experts argue that a BA today is equivalent to having a high school diploma 20 years ago and most employers require a higher degree. Thus, in pursuing a master’s, you not only satisfy your intellectual cravings but also pad your CV – the skills and qualities you develop, including communication, project management, data analysis, critical thinking and problem solving, will help you stand out in a highly competitive market. Most of the higher-level jobs in public policies, business management, engineering, public administration, medical research and most other professions require the candidate to possess a master’s degree. Prof. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg who teaches public services at George Washington University points out that “the MA is neither fish, nor fowl nor good red meat” yet its value on the job market could not be questioned. “Just as the double and triple undergraduate major is a form of gilding the lily, a form of product enhancement, meant to seduce the hiring partner or the human resources director, the growing interest in the M.A. reveals the inadequacy of the baccalaureate”, says Prof. Trachtenberg. According to CollegeGrad.com, the popular entry-level online job resource, employment opportunities for those with a master’s degree are expected to increase by 22 percent over the course of the year. Employers seeking the advanced knowledge and skills a master’s degree reflects come from all sectors of the economy – from high tech to services, from finance to government. Recruiters find that master’s candidates have a greater level of technical and field expertise that can bolster a company’s competitive stance in the industry.
Your career options increase
The MA also allows you to upgrade your alma mater (especially if you are not too happy with graduating from a college of little renown) and permits you to change direction if you have little interest in your BA field or do not find it especially lucrative. Most MA programmes offer career management services – behavioural assessments, CV workshops and on-campus company presentations, thus allowing students to ‘draw up’ a career plan and get down to fulfilling it. Also, graduate schools (or at least those that count) keep track of the career curve of their former students and pride themselves on their high job placement record and the career progress of their alumni
Networking is easy with a master’s programme
Universities are closed communities of bright, forward-thinking individuals from various backgrounds. By applying for an MA degree, you also apply to become part of a culturally, socially and intellectually diverse environment. Enrolling for a master’s degree also opens to you the school’s alumni database. This is a rich source of contacts that can help you build a strong network of friends and connections which can be quite valuable when you go into the professional world – helping you not only to land the desired job but also keep it. Don’t forget, your classmates today can be your future business partners tomorrow.