Opinion: Is a master’s degree right for you?


Rachel Godin is a junior journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.  Contact her at [email protected]

Rachel Godin

In the past decade, the number of master’s degrees awarded in the United States increased dramatically by 46 percent. If you are a junior or senior, you also might be considering furthering your education with a master’s degree after graduating with your bachelor’s from Kent State.

You might be one with unquenchable intellectual curiosity or you might be someone who simply wants to make more money in his or her lifetime. Regardless of your reason, your interest in attaining a master’s is one that deserves much research, discussion and attention. Completing a master’s program is not right for everyone. The decision goes much further than being smart enough or being monetarily equipped to pay for higher education. Some career paths really do require higher education, while some efforts to earn a master’s will fall flat if the area of study has already projected a decline in employment opportunities. Choosing to complete a master’s program is a lifetime investment.

The major myth about earning a master’s is that formal education equates to future financial stability. According to Forbes Magazine, although subjects such as library information science, music, English, education, history and political science are gratifying, the cost of an MA in these subjects typically outweighs potential income.

Deciding when to attend graduate school is also very important. It’s true, going straight to grad school after a BA diminishes the possibility of laziness kicking in and grad school becoming a distant dream, but according to Idealist.org, “In most professional masters degree programs … work experience — experience away from the classroom — is so sought-after that waiting a few years to apply to grad school is often the best idea.”

The choice to pursue higher education will be one of the most important decisions you make and should not only concern professional goals, but personal goals as well. Continuous learning and mastering a subject in depth are two passions that will need to be high on your priority list.

Next, decide how you want to use your master’s. There are two ways. This first way is to earn an MA in the area of study you earned your BA. Hopefully, for example, after graduating with a BA in English, an MA in English would help you specialize in the specific area of English studies that interests you, advance in your career and earn a raise in your job.

The second way to use a master’s degree is to change careers. For example, if you studied Spanish as an undergrad and are not satisfied by the career options made available to you via your bachelor’s degree choice, you could decide to earn a master’s in business in order to increase your ability to find a fulfilling career with a multinational business or nonprofit.

Your undergraduate career provides you with broad knowledge about a specific topic while a master’s degree requires you to specialize this knowledge into a narrow focus. You will have the opportunity to dig deep into what fascinates you most. Often times, proof of this typically manifests itself in a thesis, portfolio or accumulated research that is required before graduation.

Pursuing an MA is a way to invest a lot of time and energy into this specific area and connect with others who work passionately in the same field. If continuous learning and mastering and exploring a subject in depth are something you find gratifying, a master’s might be just right for you.