Graduate school, or grad school, refers to any college degree that goes above a bachelor's degree. This includes a Master's degree, PhD, or Masters of Business Administration (MBA). A graduate degree can be a great way to get into a competitive, high-paying field. However, there are many reasons why grad school may not be worth the cost.
The first way to consider the worth of grad school is to consider the actual cost of the degree program. This can vary from school to school. A state school can be much cheaper to attend than an Ivy League school, and the education may be about the same. However, the more expensive education can lead to a better position based on the name and prestige of the college. In this situation, students are paying for the name and not the better education.
While considering the cost of grad school, students should also consider the time they are spending away from the workforce. In many fields, a student with a bachelor's degree can earn $40,000 United States Dollars (USD) out of college. The average Master's degree program lasts two years. Figuring $30,000 USD in college costs, plus the $80,000 total lost income, a two year degree may cost $110,000 USD. This can be made up over the course of a career, but is still a huge price tag on a two-year education.
There are several careers that can gain a lot from a graduate degree. Doctors, lawyers, and other similar professionals need the higher degree to practice in their fields. Some professions, though, do not benefit from the extra education. Graduate degrees for social service careers or liberal arts careers may not be advantageous. The number of positions in these fields that require a graduate degree is considerably less than the graduates looking for work, so many end up taking jobs that they could have gotten after graduating with their Bachelor's degree. In fact, many graduates may have a harder time getting a career, due to being overqualified.
Attending grad school seems like a great way to assure job security. The truth is that, especially in times of economic downturn, people with graduate degrees are just as likely to be laid off as other employees. They are also more likely to have their pay reduced to save on spending. Having a higher degree does not mean that someone will not lose their job. Also, many colleges with graduate degree programs are having difficulty finding job placements for their graduates, making it harder to get into higher paying jobs to begin with.
After all of these considerations, it may seem like graduate school is a waste of time and money. Not so, as long as you enjoy getting an education and have a plan for paying back student loans after you graduate. A graduate degree can open a lot of doors. Grad school is worth it if your career will benefit from it, or if you are committed to your education and enjoy learning.