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Weekly paychecks of individuals with master’s degrees are roughly $225 higher on average than those of workers with a bachelor’s education, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some estimates suggest that over the course of a lifetime, master’s degree holders will earn an average of 15% more than their BA-holding counterparts.

But a higher income isn’t the only good reason to put the time and effort into earning a master’s degree. Beyond money, here are four of the top reasons to continue an education.

1. A master’s paves the way for a Big Change.

With the average tenure at a job now lasting less than five years, it’s perhaps no surprise that at some point, many of us will jump the tracks and pursue a new field. But that’s no easy feat. Employers are quick to typecast potential hires based on their past work experience. If your resume only shows experience in accounting, you’re unlikely to get an interview for a position in marketing — no matter how brilliant your cover letter and ideas. An advanced degree communicates a mastery of knowledge, of course, but it also shows your commitment to making your career change a reality. It demonstrates that you’re serious about making a professional shift through your investment of time, money and effort.

2. A graduate degree burnishes your reputation.

Those letters behind your name on a resume will give you an edge in professional and public circles. Your employer may not require an advanced degree in your current role, but your opinion will carry more weight with your peers. It will also likely give you an edge over candidates when you are competing for a new job. It can also give you the credentials you’ll need to serve as an adjunct instructor at community colleges and some other institutions.

3. A master’s connects you with the best and the brightest.

It’s not just you and your professor in the classroom. Working on a master’s means you’ll be interacting with a cohort of students who either work in the field you’ve chosen or will be working in the field in the future. Some estimates suggest that more than 40% of people who land jobs get them primarily by networking — and your master’s class will likely become one of your strongest networking circles. They’ll know of positions that are open at their companies. They’ll know people at other companies and throughout the industry. They’ll be people you’ll want to impress: Are you someone they are going to recommend to a supervisor? Are you someone they’ll be happy to call a professional colleague?

4. An advanced degree deepens knowledge and builds character.

Learning is exciting. For a certain people, going back to school offers stimulation that is unmatched in many realms: They enjoy the challenge of writing, focusing, reading, arguing and distilling information into something important. An astonishing number of master’s candidates that I see — particularly those over age 50 — say they’re getting a master’s degree simply for the fulfillment that comes along with achieving something important. There’s nothing wrong with that —feeding your love of learning can make you wiser, happier and more satisfied with your life, right?

Graduate degrees from St. Edward’s University prepare you for both your career and your life. Our programs challenge and empower you to discover your full potential and apply your knowledge in ways that make a difference in your world.

Raymond Rogers is the Director of Career & Professional Development at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.