Value of a Master's Degree in 2019

Nelson Mandela said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Benjamin Franklin saw it as the “investment that pays the best interest.” The world must have caught on because, over the past twenty years, the number of people pursuing higher education has increased tremendously. Around 13 percent of people in America have a Master’s Degree or higher, up from just 8% in the year 2000.

As the higher ed numbers continue to soar, people may start to question, what is the value of a Master’s Degree in 2019? You might also be wondering if the price tag attached worth possible benefits. Of course, the answer to these two questions depends greatly on personal factors. However both Nelson and Ben would probably agree that the pros almost always outweigh the drawbacks when it comes to education.

Value of a Master’s Degree: What You Need to Know

Pursuing a Master’s will run you anywhere from 30k to 120k depending upon what and where you study. Unlike with Bachelor’s Degrees, the scholarships and grants are usually limited. This is especially true of federal money like Pell Grants which are generally reserved for undergraduate degrees. So most of the time, if you are considering a professional degree, you will be investing your savings or taking out loans, both of which can have serious financial consequences. Doing so can be to your benefit though.A Master’s Degree can:

  • Make you more knowledgeable
  • Advance your hiring prospects
  • Help you switch careers
  • Improve your job security

Is a Masters Degree Worth It?

Here are some things you should keep in mind if you are trying to weigh the value of a Master’s Degree in 2019:

  • Your earning estimate matters. When trying to decide whether or not to pursue a Master’s Degree, money talks. Calculate your return investment (ROI) as part of your decision. To do this, look at what it will cost you to attend and compare it to what you will earn at work after your degree. Is the number high enough to make it worth it? You can use an income calculator to help crunch the numbers.
  • Certain fields see higher returns. Your ROI will be higher in certain fields. For example, degrees in the medical field tend to have high returns for advanced degrees as do many business/tech fields. Teachers, however, may find that getting a masters will only increase their salary just a thousand dollars or so a year. Unless you need it to change jobs, this might not be enough money to warrant such a steep investment.
  • Some jobs require it. Which brings us to an important point. There are some positions in which a master’s degree is a must. The value of a master’s degree in 2019 or any other year is a lot higher when it is required. Occupational therapists, college professors, and mental health counselor’s must have a master’s degree. If this is the case with your career, your focus shouldn’t be whether or not to pursue it but when and where to do so.
  • Your location is key. One final thought that should be given is where you will live in the next 10 years and what the pay will be like there. For example, Newsweek ranks Washington D.C., New Jersey, California, Maryland, and Connecticut has some of the highest paying states. But if you live in a place like Wyoming where a Master’s Degree will only bring you 35k, the pay might not be worth shouldering the debt.

In today’s job market, getting a Master’s Degree comes with lots of perks. Not only is a graduate degree holder more likely to find a job or switch careers, but they’re also likely to see at least a 17,000 or more increase in pay. If you’re trying to decide if a Master’s will be valuable for you, consider the benefits while comparing against the costs. You’ll most likely find that the pros will far outweigh the cons.