Why Pursue a Masters Degree

Why pursue a Master’s Degree? Well, people without an MA are always quick to point out its uselessness. Stuck behind a desk, or a shovel, they spout moronic invective at those willing to listen. (With a derogatory, mocking tone): Why would you want to do more school work after you spent four years busting your balls for a BA?, they say. I should know. I’ve been the one behind that shovel (or hammer, rather). But I also understand academia very well, having attended four separate colleges and earned a BA, and almost an MA.

What it comes down to depends on your answer to a question: do you or do you not want to pursue a PhD after your MA? If yes, then by all means go for an MA. It prepares you further for a doctoral program and it has the potential to build you those connections and networks that are more important to academic success than perfect GREs (sad but true). An MA program also allows you to shine, because many people at MA programs (depending on which ones) are, sorry to say this, wastes of space. Harsh and sad but, again, true. If you can raise yourself above the rut you can impress your professors and would-be professors at other programs.

All this being said, if you answer “no” to the above question, an MA may not be for you. Sure, you can teach community college, but those jobs are hard to come by. An MA alone might not help out your chances of employment. Of course, it does depend on the subject. An MA in computer science can go a long way.

Whatever your choice regarding an MA, don’t decide against it based on some idiot with a shovel or a desk. An MA doesn’t have to be seen as work: if you like the subject you are pursuing you should pursue a masters in it for the intrinsic benefit of pursuing it. That is, you should pursue an MA because you are interested and possibly want to study it further in a PhD program. Don’t be lazy. Laziness about “busting your balls” further is no rationale for action.