It’s quite simple: master’s degrees are the new bachelor’s degrees. The world is a competitive place, and anything you can do to help yourself stand out will help. Fifty years ago, a bachelor’s could help you do that, but that is no longer the case. For someone with drive and ambition, a master’s degree will help distinguish you from the rest of the crowd, and the speed with which your career advances will far outweigh the extra time you spent in school.
Many countries view higher education differently than America does. Here, we have reached the point where holding a bachelor’s degree is expected of all persons looking to work in a professional setting, and most other professions as well. While it used to be that a high school diploma was the norm, college was the exception, and graduate school was almost unheard of, the times have changed.
One day, when I was working as an editor of college textbooks, my boss mentioned the number of colleges that exist in the U.S. The number was in the thousands. This includes all small colleges, public and private universities, community colleges, and for-profit colleges such as the University of Phoenix. With this many colleges, there is an enormous range in the quality of higher education, but it has become more difficult to distinguish between one BA degree and another. While a BA from Harvard or Yale is still recognized as superior, what about the other four thousand colleges? How can employers decide who the brilliant, hardworking, accomplished candidate is, when everyone applying has similar credentials?
The answer is a master’s degree. Master’s degrees are far more specialized than bachelors, and so they’re far more relevant to a professional position. Are you looking to improve your career in advertising? There is a master’s degree for that specific field. Finance? Social work? Do you mean social work with children or adults? Your master’s degree will be that specific. This will allow you to tell the human resources office that you are the most qualified candidate because you have the most extensive, and the most relevant education.
Already working? Consider picking up a master’s degree part time. Many larger companies will reimburse you for the cost of tuition, because they know that it’s a worthwhile investment. This fact should tell you something. If your company is willing to pay for you to get a master’s degree, they are going to expect you to use it, and that means more opportunities, and a greater chance for promotion.
Is your bachelor’s degree worthless? No, not yet, but as degree factories produce more and more of them, it becomes worth less every year. Considering many master’s degree programs can be finished in about one year, even if you’re paying for the tuition yourself, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t a smart idea.