Difference Between Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees

back of graduate heads

Is it worth it to go to school for an additional two years to earn a master’s degree?

Increasingly, experts believe that it is. There’s a clear consensus that a master’s carries greater earnings potential. In addition, advanced degrees are becoming a prerequisite for an ever-growing percentage of jobs in the United States.

The Commission on the Future of Graduate Education estimates that over a 10-year period, the number of jobs requiring a master’s will increase by about 18 percent. “More and more workers will be asked to think rather than produce in the traditional manner of manufacturing industries of the past,” the report said.

Pursuing a master’s degree allows students to hone in on a subject and apply critical thinking on a deeper level than in undergraduate studies. Studying at the graduate level signifies a shift from broader subjects and classes towards a narrow, in-depth approach often taught in case-study style.

New graduate school students can expect fewer lectures and more discussions. Also, since master’s students typically are older and more well-rounded than undergraduates, they’re more likely to have real-world experience in the subject matter, adding meaning and depth to the classes.

Careers that require a master’s degree

For some professions, courses beyond a four-year diploma are a necessity.

Teachers across the country are required to demonstrate some form of continuing education or advanced classes in order to renew their licenses.

Social workers who wish to become licensed for clinical practice must earn master’s degrees, as do psychology majors who want to work as counselors.

A master’s as a professional springboard

Aside from fields where a master’s is mandatory, earning a graduate degree can be a savvy move for professionals with an eye on management and career advancement.

Business professionals have known this for decades, which is why a Master of Business Administration is among the most sought after graduate degrees year after year.

Earning a master’s also is a great way for a career shifter to dive into a new profession. Completing a graduate degree in a new field is a powerful statement to a potential employer that you’ve committed to that industry, and proof that you’ve learned the skills you need to contribute right away.

Like any investment, studying for a master’s degree ought to provide the biggest possible financial return. The advent of online graduate programs has made that ROI better than ever. Tuition at an online university often adds up to a fraction of the cost of attending even a public college, to say nothing of room and board expenses, which don’t apply to online learning.

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For more information about on-time completion rates, the median loan debt of students who completed each program, and other important information, please visit ashford.edu/pd/omba.

Written by Ashford University staff.

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