You already know you want to return to the world of higher education and earn a master’s degree. That’s a big step, one that can help you advance on your professional path and build valuable new knowledge and abilities. But which master’s degree should you get?
While that’s a question only you can answer, we’ll support you as you decide by sharing:
- Guidance for selecting a university and grad program that is accredited, established, academically challenging and personally and professionally rewarding.
- Information about popular degrees.
- Tips that give you valuable context for making your choice.
First, let’s look at how to choose a degree that can support your professional goals, whether you want to stay on your current path or move into an entirely different field.
Why should you pursue a master’s degree?
To earn a master’s degree from an accredited institution, you must complete a challenging program led by experienced faculty. This achievement can help you stand out to potential employers by demonstrating your knowledge and abilities. It also may help you advance your career.
In terms of employment, the value of a master’s degree from Arizona State University is clear. For the 2019-20 graduating class, 87% of ASU graduate students who indicated they were looking for work were employed, started their own business or received at least one job offer within six months of graduation.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows your earning potential can rise with a master’s degree as well. Professionals with a bachelor’s degree had median weekly earnings of $1,305 in 2020, while the same figure for those holding master’s degrees was $1,545. More specific research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers highlighted two degree types, focusing on the substantial differences in earning potential between professionals with bachelor’s and master’s degrees related to them:
- In the field of business administration, the average starting salary for an employee with a related bachelor’s degree is $57,133. The average beginning salary for a staff member with a Master of Business Administration is $84,580.
- In occupations related to computer science, professionals with relevant bachelor’s degrees earn an average starting salary of $68,103. Meanwhile, workers with a related master’s degree have an average beginning salary of $82,275.
Career progression is another factor to keep in mind. An advanced education is often a requirement for higher-level roles in many industries. You might also need to develop work experience or specific professional competencies, but a master’s degree can make you a more attractive candidate for important roles in your field.
When should you get a master’s degree?
Some students begin earning their master’s degree as they complete their bachelor’s degree in accelerated or 4+1 programs, after having applied in the third year of their undergraduate experience. Others go for an advanced degree right after they finish their undergraduate studies. You could also spend years in the workforce, parenting, traveling and following any number of other paths before returning to school.
There’s no right time to earn a master’s degree. You need to decide for yourself when you’re ready to start the next stage of your journey as a student.
Aligning your bachelor’s and master’s degrees
How can you find the most relevant program for you? Consider building on your bachelor’s degree with the advanced knowledge and abilities that come from a related master’s program.
A bachelor’s degree demonstrates a certain level of competency related to your chosen field. It can also serve as a foundation that can underpin success in graduate school.
On a practical level, a related bachelor’s degree can make it easier for you to fulfill application requirements and get used to the academic rigor of a master’s program. You’ll already possess valuable context that can make it easier to understand, process and apply the new information you learn as a master’s student.
If your career and undergraduate degree align, and you’re confident you want to continue on a related professional path, start by reviewing relevant advanced degree options. Our complete list of online graduate programs is a great place to start. You can quickly narrow down your choices by filtering the list, based on specific areas of interest, to find the most relevant possibilities.