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Four reasons to get a graduate degree

Four reasons to get a graduate degree

1. Gain in-depth knowledge and answer unanswered questions.

A graduate education is unlike any other journey. It is the pursuit of an intellectual passion while acquiring in-depth professional expertise and greater career opportunities. The benefits of a graduate degree also improve your research, writing and analyzing skills. This all contributes to you becoming a more skillful problem solver and to tackling complex projects. By earning a graduate degree, you will continue to expand upon your expertise and knowledge, preparing you for lifelong learning.

2. Set yourself apart from the rest of the workforce.

In today’s increasingly competitive job market, the benefits of a master’s degree or Ph.D. in science can differentiate you in the market. You will learn to use critical thinking and innovation to solve problems. These skills are much sought after and really make a Ph.D. graduate, and even a master’s graduate, stand out from other potential employees.

3. Advance more quickly in your career.

Earning a master’s degree helps you gain specialized knowledge to advance in your field. A graduate degree shows you are committed to enhancing your expertise and credibility. Focus on a special field of study within science helps you become more competitive in the job market.

A graduate degree can make it easier to transition into more senior positions, such as management and leadership. Many organizations are seeking more educated employees. When asked why they are hiring more employees with college degrees for positions previously held by those with high school degrees, 61% of employers said the skills required for their positions have evolved, requiring a higher base level of education. In recent years, with many companies looking to hire people with graduate degrees.

4. Enhance your earning potential.

By earning a graduate degree, you can significantly increase your income. On average, employees with a bachelor’s degree earn $50,360 per year, while those with a master’s degree earn a median annual income of $68,064, a 35% increase. More than 16 million Americans—approximately 8% of the population—have a master’s degree, representing a 43% increase since 2002. While earning a bachelor’s degree used to be enough to establish your career, today this is not the case.

In science, there is an even larger gap between employees with a graduate degree and those with less education. According to Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, biology and life sciences majors with advanced degrees earn 63% more than those with bachelor’s degrees, while graduate degree holders who majored in health and medical preparatory programs earn 137% more than those with bachelor’s degrees.

Why get a master's degree in science?

As an undergraduate, you acquired knowledge from established sources and your ability to retain and understand that information was tested by answering questions on exams or from coursework.

For starters, a master’s degree in science provides essential training and the best path for certain jobs or promotions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common careers that require a master’s degree include science, technology, engineering and math as well as business, education and health care.

A 2015 economic study suggests that the U.S. labor market increasingly favors employees with a graduate degree. It is also worth noting that 15% of the U.S. population possesses a master's or advanced degree, up from 13% in 2017. The forecast is that the number of master’s degrees awarded is expected to continue rising, based on a National Center for Education Statistics report.

Why get a Ph.D. in science?

A Ph.D. can give you ultra-specialized experience in a particular area of science research and lead to an academic track position. In addition, a doctoral program also prepares you to approach problems when they aren't clearly defined or posed in an expected way that you faced as an undergraduate.

As a Ph.D. student, the goal is to advance knowledge in a particular field by finding out something that has yet to be discovered. This means you can’t find the answers in a textbook, because the answer doesn’t exist yet. You want to make sure you are comfortable with this approach. For example, to answer a research question, you need to figure out how to create a new piece of knowledge that is thoroughly verified – the thesis. You build on existing knowledge and literature and design experiments to provide the most accurate answer possible.

Overall, a Ph.D. instills a sense of caring more about the approach to the problem, how it relates to the questions you are examining, and how you can adapt other people’s approaches to the problem you are trying to solve. These skillsets are highly valued and in-demand by employers across academia, industry, government, nonprofit organizations and others.