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What are the Highest Paying Masters Degrees?

Posted: November 15, 2017 To: CareerBy: Neighthan
What are the Highest Paying Masters Degrees?

If you are considering a Master’s program, you may want to do some research to determine the value of different Master’s degrees. While there are some jobs that require a Master’s degree, there are plenty of good jobs for college students who have only a Bachelor’s. What you will need to do is figure out if getting a Master’s degree is worth the time and money in your field. Hopefully, this information will help.

Bachelor’s Degree VS Master’s Degree – Is a Master’s Degree Worth It?

The answer to this question really depends on Your field of study. There are fields in which a Master’s is considered an entry level degree, and you will not be able to get a job in your field without it. In other career fields, a Bachelor’s will get you “in the door” with a first position, but you will be expected to work toward a Master’s degree once you enter your field.

For example, a Master’s degree in psychology and sociology will be required, if you expect to enter those career fields when you finish your college education. Social workers and psychologists must obtain state licensing certifications to enter most careers in their fields, and one of the requirements for that licensing is a Master’s degree. There really is no option in these fields, so you are best served by going right on to grad school once you get that Bachelor’s.

There are other fields that can be entered with just a Bachelor’s., but working toward a Master’s will be expected, and, in some cases, required, to stay in that career. For example, students who are looking at teaching for a career can get a job right out of university with a Bachelor’s degree. Once they are in those jobs, however, there are state requirements for continuing education, and this usually entails graduate coursework. Because this continuing ed requirement goes on for years, most teachers will ultimately end up with a Master’s degree. And that’s a good thing – teachers in public school systems are paid more based upon earning graduate level credits.

Still in other fields, entry level positions are available with a Bachelor’s degree and getting a Master’s is not a big deal. Moving up in that career may require other things – superior job performance, state licensing, and continuing ed that is not part of a Master’s program. A good example of this is a business degree in accounting. You can get a good entry level position with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting. However, you will make far more money if you pursue a CPA license. Getting that CPA will qualify you for work with top accounting firms or for establishing your own accounting business. But the CPA license has nothing to do with a Master’s degree.

The same holds true for other careers, such as computer science. Movement in your career will be far more a result of your performance and accomplishments than a grad degree. And you can easily get additional training without being in an expensive Master’s program.

So, here’s the bottom line: You will need to make an individual decision of the value of a Bachelor’s degree vs. a Master’s degree. Given the cost and time involved, it will be a good thing to weigh the pros and cons before making a commitment to that Master’s program.

Types of Master’s Degrees

Traditionally, there have been two types of Master’s Degrees awarded – Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS). The Master of Arts is awarded for studies in the humanities and social sciences – art, history, economics, music, English, political science, philosophy, etc. Other specific areas might include something like a Master’s degree in hotel management. The MA is generally in areas that are not related to science or math. The Master of Science is awarded in STEM coursework – engineering, the hard sciences, math, computer science.

Both of these types of degrees are course-based, meaning that they are based upon completing specific courses and numbers of credits. If you are wondering how long does it take to get a Master’s degree in these two general types, a good average time is 1 ½ - 2 years.

There is a third type of Master’s degree which is newer than the traditional ones – the Master’s in Research degree (MRes). This degree is awarded based upon a student completed their own research projects in a specific field, rather than a pre-determined set of courses. Usually, students enrolled in these programs have mentors and/or advisors who then certify that the student has completed the agreed upon research projects and has earned the degree. Students who pursue this type of degree are usually those who plan to conduct research as a future career, and they also usually move on to a doctoral program. How long to get a Master’s degree in research varies, because it is based upon completing those projects. Generally, though, it does take longer than a course-based Master’s.

The final type of Master’s degree is what is known as the professional Master’s degree. This degree may be listed as and MA or MS, but it relates to very specific professions – law and medicine, for example. Some of these students will go on to get another degree in law or medicine with the purpose of becoming lawyers or doctors.

The Shortest Master’s Degree Programs

Master’s programs in traditional colleges and universities tend to have a set number of credit hours you must earn to get that piece of parchment – usually in the range of 60. Dividing that up by 15 hours a semester, that is four semesters.

There are, however, some non-traditional schools that offer shorter programs, with varying degrees of reputation. If you choose one of these non-traditional programs, just be certain that they are respected institutions. If they are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, for example, they are safe. Often, they will give credit for career employment prior to entry, so if you are a student going back for a Master’s after you have been working in your career field, you cn shave off some of those credits and shorten your program.

That being said, there are also Master’s programs that can be shortened because the coursework tends to be easier and you can take more than the 15-hour normal semester load. Elementary education, social work and music are three that are usually easier than most.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

These once had a terrible reputation and were offered by schools that no one knew of or, if they did, had a really bad opinion of. Employers would not look at someone with an online degree. That has changed considerably in recent years, because newer online schools/programs have become more rigorous and lots of traditional colleges area offering online programs. And because these programs offer such flexibility for students, they have become quite popular. In fact, many go back and get a second Master’s degree this way in order to be more marketable. Someone with a Master’s in healthcare administration, for example, might go back and get a Master’s in business and become much more valuable to large, high-paying hospitals and other healthcare providers.

The other advantage of most online Master’s programs is that many do not require a thesis. If you are wondering what is a thesis for a Master’s degree, it is a lengthy piece of research and writing that can take as much as a semester to accomplish. And if you are totally unaware of how to write a Master’s degree thesis, it can be much longer. Perhaps a good writing service is in order to get some help.

How Much Does a Master’s Degree Cost?

There is no way to know this until you actually find a school and a program you want. Prices will vary between public and private schools, public generally being much cheaper. And the specific program will factor into this too. A Master’s in social work, for example, will be less pricey than one in chemical engineering, because there will be no lab fees and expensive supplies to buy.

According to FinAid.org, your Master’s can cost anywhere from $30,000 - $120,000, depending on school and program.

So, What Comes After Master’s Degree Completion?

Once you have that Master’s degree diploma, you should meet the requirements for much higher-paying jobs in your career field, and you will climb that career ladder much faster. Over a lifetime, you can expect to earn far more than any colleague with only a Bachelor’s.

But if you are in the hard sciences or intend for a career in research or teaching at the university level, a doctorate degree will be a must.

The Highest Paying Jobs with a Master’s Degree

As you have probably suspected, jobs in the hard sciences, especially engineering, are the highest paying. Over time, however, other professions catch up with these salaries – accounting, business administration, etc.

There is no average salary for Master’s degree holders, but in general, according to U.S. Department of Education figures, that Master’s is worth about $2.5 million of earnings over a career lifetime. That is about $400,000 more than the average for a Bachelor’s.

Is It Worth It?

Only you can make that decision. Higher education of any type will certainly earn you more and will get you farther in your career. On the other hand, you will be losing up to two years of earnings if you go back to get it full-time.

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