Online Master's DegreesMost master's degree programs require one to three years of postgraduate or graduate level education. The two most popular masters degrees awarded in the United States are the Master's of Arts (M.A.) and Master's of Science (M.S.). So is the time and effort required to earn a master's degree a worth while investment? Well, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals who possess a master's degree on average earn nearly 20% more than bachelor's degree holders. Over a lifetime that could add up to millions in additional income.
Unlike many undergraduate degree programs, a master's degree requires concentrated study in just one subject area. Earning a master's degree can lead to career promotion, the ability to enter into a new profession, and personal achievement. Less than 5% of Americans ever earn a master's degree, so the letters M.A. (Masters of Art) or M.S. (Masters of Science) on a resume, business card or letterhead can command certain respect.
Master's level education is significantly more demanding (and more stimulating) than undergraduate education, and students are typically more goal-oriented and driven. Individuals lacking self-discipline need not apply to a master's degree program as this graduate degree requires a high level of dedication and determination. As they progress through a master's degree program students will have the opportunity to develop long lasting friendships and form professional connections with peers, professors, and other industry professionals. These relationships are instrumental in furthering career interests and provide a strong network to fall back on when searching for a job.
Value of a Master's DegreeEmployers value the analytical, problem solving, technical and critical thinking skills that master's degrees provide. In fact, according to Burning Glass Technologies, a firm that analyzes millions of job openings, over 20% of job positions either prefer or require a graduate degree. However, only about 10% of people hold a graduate degree. Based on these numbers alone, it's easy to see how earning a master's degree can be advantageous when it comes to competing for the best jobs.
Researchers and economists have also documented various benefits from earning a master's degree, such as increased economic opportunity and higher salaries – and studies show these benefits are on the rise. A study conducted by the Federal Reserve in 2012 suggested that nearly all growth in wages over the last decade were due to earning an advanced degree. During this same time period advanced degree holders earned a 30% higher wage than bachelor's degree holders. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of 2013, individuals with a master's degree had an unemployment rate of 3.4%, compared to the national average of 6.1% for all other workers. The benefits of earning a master's degree are undeniable.
In addition to economic benefit, a master's degree provides "societal" and life enriching benefits. Research performed by Edward Glaear and Richard Florida suggests that the benefits of earning a master's degree extend far beyond higher pay and lower unemployment. They found that individuals with advanced degrees and higher levels of education tend to experience better health, have higher levels of societal well being, and are more civically engaged.