Is Graduate School Worth the Cost?

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at GradSchoolCenter.com, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

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Updated: February 13, 2024, Reading time: 6 minutes

grad school worth the cost

One of the million-dollar questions is whether or not to pursue higher education. Completing a long-term goal, advancing a career, using the time on one’s hands, or pursuing a passion are all good reasons to continue or return to graduate school.

According to statistics, the number of people pursuing higher education has doubled since the turn of the century. More recently, grad school applications have gone up between 15% and 60%, depending on the discipline, in recent years.

Although this means steeper competition to attend graduate school, it also means more competition in the workplace.

Employers may have deemed a bachelor’s degree to be a pre-requisite for certain positions 10 years ago; however, they may expect a master’s degree now. As the stakes are raised corporately, they are raised personally as well. Evaluating whether graduate school is a good idea is not an easy answer for most of us.

Additional Information: The 50 Best Scholarships For Master’s Students and 50 Best Scholarships For Ph.D. Students

Ask Yourself: What Are My Career Goals?

First, in order to slough off undesirable motives, it is advisable to lay out career goals in order to see if graduate school is worth the cost, time, and effort.

Writing out career goals and seeing them starkly will allow one to realize the goals one has for pursuing graduate work.

Doing the Math: What is Your Return on Investment?

When researching the pros and cons of beginning a graduate degree, be sure to do some careful math. And remember, just because the math doesn’t make perfect sense doesn’t mean one shouldn’t pursue higher education.

It’s far better to know ahead of time what one is getting into than just to hope that things work out. Some aspects of the financial effects of higher education to consider when number-crunching are:

Envision Your Future

Though it may have been a childhood dream to become an architect, dreams and ambitions change as life shapes us. Actually doing a job may be quite a bit different than what we dreamed it would be like beforehand. Check job requirements for the career of choice and envision everyday life in that career.

Checking job requirements and imagining the future may clarify whether or not obtaining a graduate degree is really necessary. It also may be the case that one is already qualified for a job without a graduate degree. Work experience, as well as personal skills, may fill in what a graduate degree would have supplied.

Another way to find out if graduate school is the right decision for the future is to talk to colleagues and friends or read the testimony of people who have completed a graduate degree. If one is planning to apply to a school, talking to graduates of the school will help to clarify goals, evaluate the feasibility, and provide a tangible outline of what lies ahead.

Set Up for Success

If you’re not sure what career path to choose, evaluating wisely will make you more likely to land a job at the end of the degree. Choose according to what will be in demand in the future not just what is in demand now.

Also, the school one attends could easily set the path to success. Apply to the most highly regarded schools available to you. Often, excellent and reputable schools grant the most financial assistance making them a real option.

Don’t Ignore Your Passion

Most advice given to those seeking higher education, even in this article, is to evaluate the cost and pursue the degree that will grant the greatest return. However, some individuals have a strong desire to pursue an interest for its own sake.

Though it may not pay off as well as it could or even at all, pursuing a strong passion for a subject and sticking with it may lead to a much more enjoyable life than always making ends meet. Surprisingly, being excellent in a subject because you love it may make you very desirable to certain employers as well.

See also: Great Grad Programs That Offer Free Tuition

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.