What Master’s Degree Should I Get? Your Guide to Choosing

Getting your master’s is a big decision that will have you questioning what type of master’s degree to get. Here’s a guide to choosing with statistics and salaries from various careers.


If you choose to continue your higher education journey beyond a bachelor’s degree, the next step is a master’s degree. As the most broad type of degree, you may find yourself questioning what master’s degree you should get.


Here’s your guide to choosing, complete with the many reasons why a master’s is a good decision, the types of degrees out there, and the some of the top paying careers.



Reasons to Get a Master’s

Before enrolling in a program, first assess your reasoning for pursuing a master’s degree.


Here’s a list of some of the most common reasons why people do it:

  • To pursue a career in a new field (different than the one they studied as an undergraduate)
  • To advance in their current field
  • To gain credibility
  • To prepare to get their doctorate
  • To earn more money
  • To find teaching opportunities
  • To expand their network


How To Choose a Degree

Choosing a master’s degree is a highly individualized endeavour. The major consideration is to first define your career goals. Based on what you want to do in the job market, you can find the requirements and the necessary skills that can help you excel in your career. Then, you can match the master’s degree that will best prepare you.


If you’re highly motivated by salary and earning potential, here’s a quick look at some of the most lucrative careers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, someone with a master’s degree earned a weekly median salary of $1,341 as opposed to $1,137 earned by those with a bachelor’s degree.



Source: Unsplash



Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs with a master’s degree (and their average salaries, rounded to the nearest whole number):

  • CEO – $173,000
  • Director of Nursing – $173,000
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetic – $151,000
  • Clinical Therapists – $150,000
  • Architectural and Engineering Manager- $126,000
  • Financial Manager – $117,000
  • Natural Science Manager – $116,000
  • Industrial Organizational Psychologist – $114,000
  • General Operations Manager – $113,000
  • Engineering Management – $100,000



Here’s a look at the average salaries (in America) from Payscale’s 2016-2017 College Salary Report based on degree major:


Degree Major Average Salary – Master’s Degree
Biology $47,800
Education $41,22
Business Administration $57,700
Computer Science $84,800
Nursing $81,700


Regardless of the salary, your career will be more successful if you’re actually interested in the topic and have a genuine interest in continuously growing with the field. As mentioned before, it’s important to assess your own interests, strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you want to go into teaching, it’s beneficial to be a patient and kind person, with high emotional intelligence. For those pursuing computer science, it’s beneficial to have a problem-solving mentality and understand logic.



Types of Grad Programs

There are many different types of master’s degree programs. The most common are Master’s of Science (M.Sc), Master’s of Arts (M.A.), Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) and Master’s of Education (M.Ed). Let’s take a quick look at the common requirements of each:



Master’s of Science:


Typically a one- to two-year program. Often requires the completion of a scientific thesis. Can be earned in various science-related subjects, like: Engineering, Information Technology, Social Science, Earth Science, and Applied Science, to name a few.



Master’s of Arts:


Typically a one- to two-year program. Common subject areas span Humanities and include: Philosophy, Fine Arts, Social Sciences, History, etc.



Master’s of Business Administration:


MBA programs is a management degree to create a well-rounded businessperson, with general and practical knowledge about various aspects of business, including Finance, Human Resources, Marketing, and Operations.



Master’s of Education:


This degree is obviously designed for teachers, but it is not limited to those who want to teach. Those who pursue a M.Ed. often do so after they’ve passed their respective state’s required certification to teach.



Where to Study

After knowing what you want to study, the next step is figuring out which institution you want to attend. There are traditional universities with on-campus learning, as well as various online programs, like University of the People. At UoPeople, you can earn your master’s in two subjects, namely Education, and Business Administration.


Take into consideration the following aspects when deciding where you want to learn:



Length of study:


Most programs are one to two years in length, but you can also access them part-time or full-time.





In general, while the cost varies by program, the average cost of a master’s degree in America ranges from $30,000 to $120,000. UoPeople’s model is unique in that it is completely tuition-free. The only fees required are those for an application and assessment fees per course. This means that one can earn their MBA for less than $3,000, for example. For comparison’s sake, on average, an MBA from a private university costs $150,000.





You have to consider if you want to attend an on-campus institution within your state, a different state, or abroad. If you have geographical barriers or cannot afford to pay higher tuition for being out of state, a good solution is a program like UoPeople, where you can access your education from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection.



Admission Requirements:


Many programs require a graduate entrance exam, along with a list of references, personal essay, and sometimes even an interview. At UoPeople, the requirements are made much more simple. All that is required is proof of your undergraduate degree and English speaking proficiency. The goal here is to grant global access as we believe education is a human right.

How to Fund Grad School

There’s no doubt that when you’re continuing your education, you have to consider your finances. While most institutions require fees for tuition, there’s also the cost of transportation, books, materials, living, etc. You can use these resources to help fund your education:

  • Federal and State Financial Aid
  • University Scholarships
  • Private Scholarships
  • Private Loans
  • Grants
  • Employer Assistance
  • Credit Unions
  • Work-Study
  • Self-Funding



Source: Unsplash



The Choice is Yours

Only you can determine if graduate school is the right decision to make. After weighing the costs and understanding the earning potential, if you find that you want to get your master’s degree, you can do so knowing that you’re going to naturally open many doors to opportunity.


Look at the decision as a big picture one to make, because although you accrue costs and spend the time earning the degree now, education is something that can never be taken away. Once you are a graduate of a master’s program, you will always carry that degree with you!



"I applied & I have been overjoyed about my decision ever since"

Doug Walters

Business Administration, US

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