What to Consider When Choosing a Master's Program

There are at least sixty-three (63) careers requiring a minimum of a master's degree for an entry-level position. Before choosing a program, it is important to consider both the program details and your motivations for pursuing a master's degree.

Important Considerations When Choosing a Master's Program

There is a lot to think about when you are choosing a master's program. You will certainly be looking at cost, program length, and admissions requirements, but there are many other topics to consider. For example, you could look at the career impact of having a master's degree. You could also investigate the jobs that require a master's degree.

How Much Does a Master's Degree Cost?

Each graduate school sets tuition costs for admissions either as a dollar amount per course, term (semester, quarter, or other), or credit hour. Since each graduate program differs in length, the cost can vary widely. By looking for graduate tuition rates on a college website, you should be able to learn the cost of tuition and fees. Generally, you can expect to spend approximately $15,000 to $35,000, although these numbers may be impacted by transfer credit, school policy, or other factors.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master's Degree?

Some master's degrees can be completed in approximately 1 year due to their accelerated nature. Other programs may take approximately 2 years or more to complete, depending on whether you are a full-time or part-time student. The availability of courses each term, whether there is a required sequence in which courses must be taken, and your personal availability to fit classes into your schedule can also impact how long it takes to earn the degree.

Are There Master's Programs with Flexible Scheduling?

Most colleges and universities offer courses in a variety of formats and schedules. Some offer programs that are online only, while others offer blended courses that utilize both on-campus and online resources. Since many of the individuals interested in pursuing master's degree programs work full-time jobs, many schools now offer weekend classes in addition to the more traditional night classes.

What Careers Require Master's Degrees as a Minimum Qualification?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists at least sixty-three (63) careers that require a master's degree as a minimum requirement for an entry-level position. Here are a few of those careers:

  • Anthropologists and archaeologists
  • Archivists
  • Curators
  • Economists
  • Education administrators
  • Epidemiologists
  • Historians
  • Librarians
  • Mathematicians
  • Orthodontists

What Are the Projected Number of New Jobs in My Area of Interest?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gathers data on jobs. Its Occupational Outlook Handbook has information about the projected number of new jobs between 2016 and 2026 in areas that require a master's degree for an entry-level position. This is an important resource that you can use when you are considering what master's degree program to choose.

What Is the Projected Growth Rate in My Program Area?

The Occupational Outlook Handbook allows you to compare jobs and learn whether the growth rate for your selected career is average, below average, or above average. This will provide helpful information when you are considering the impact a master's degree might have on your career options. This information is updated regularly.

What Is the Median Pay in My Program Area?

While 'mean' pay is the average of all salary data collected, 'median' pay is the middle salary in the list. The Occupational Outlook Handbook shows you the median pay for careers requiring the minimum of a master's degree. In addition to showing the number as an annual salary, sometimes the number is shown as an hourly rate. This gives you an opportunity to compare potential earnings when you are choosing a master's degree program.

What Is My Motivation for Choosing a Master's Program?

When you are thinking about choosing a graduate program, you should ask yourself why you want or need a master's degree. Some people simply have the curiosity and drive to learn more about a given subject and challenge themselves. Others need to earn a master's degree in order to move up the corporate ladder or earn more money in their current position. Whatever your motivation, be sure to identify it during the decision-making process.

Typical Graduate School Admissions Requirements

When you have decided on a college or university and master's degree program you want to pursue, the first step in the admissions process is to complete the application, which can be done online in most cases. You will need to send official transcripts from every college or university you have attended to establish your grade point average and prove your receipt of a bachelor's degree, and some schools will require that you submit your Graduate Records Examinations or Graduate Management Admissions Test scores. Not all schools require this, however, and in some cases colleges and universities will waive these admissions tests if you meet grade point average, professional experience, or other requirements. If English is not your native language or you attended a college that delivered its coursework in a language other than English, you may need to take a test for English proficiency. Other requirements might include submitting a résumé or curriculum vitae, writing an essay about why you want to earn a master's degree in the program you've chosen, or interviewing with an admissions or a departmental representative.

Before you decide on a master's degree program, you should consider cost, program length, and admissions requirements. You might also want to research topics such as job growth or median salary in the career area associated with the master's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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