Is Graduate School Right for You?

Americans with a graduate degree earn an average of 35-50% more than those with just a bachelor's degree. But money is not the only reason to pursue a graduate degree. So, when weighing whether to attend grad school, what factors hold the most weight for you?

Time for a Career Change?

Many people make the decision to return to grad school after working in "the real world." Some feel that their career options are otherwise limited. Others find that their interests and abilities have developed over the years and no longer have anything to do with their undergraduate education.

Make the Move into Management

After working in the trenches for a while and developing a strong sense of how your organization is run, you may be interested in moving up to the management level of your field. This move often requires some graduate education.

Is Teaching Where Your Heart Lies?

To teach at a two-year college, you'll need at least a master's degree and maybe a doctorate or professional degree. To teach or do research at four-year colleges, universities, and graduate programs, you'll need a doctorate or the "terminal" professional degree in your field — an MBA, JD, MD — or both.

Is Professional Licensing a Requirement?

Social workers, psychologists, therapists, and others who directly treat or counsel generally need graduate education to meet national and state licensing requirements. The proper licensing and credentials are also essential for getting insurance reimbursement. Many insurance carriers authorize payment only to practitioners who meet certain educational and licensing standards.

Escape a Poor Job Market

A slow economy is a popular reason for going right from college to grad school. The reasoning is, "Since I'm not going to get a job anyway, I might as well go to grad school. Maybe the job market will be better when I get out." This may not be the best idea. Bottom line: Add a realistic appraisal of career prospects to your idealism and career hopes when you're making grad school plans.