By the year 2016, the number of jobs requiring the completion of a traditional or online graduate degree program is expected to grow by at least 20%. Data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau show that individuals with Master’s degrees earn an average of $10,000 more per year than those with a bachelor’s degree alone. If you’re one of the many adults considering going back to school for a graduate degree, an online degree course might be for you. Online programs give you the flexibility to juggle work and family obligations alongside your course load. But, which online graduate course is your best option?
When choosing an online graduate degree program, consider the career path you’d like to follow. Are you seeking post-graduate education to become more qualified and advance in your current field? Would you like to break into a new field? Are you interested in learning a trade? Do you have dreams of becoming a journalist, author, artist, or other creative professional? These are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself while you’re looking at online graduate schools.
If you’re seeking post-graduate education in order to build qualifications and go further in your current field, your current employer might have some advice about the best graduate degrees to pursue. Alternatively, you could be hankering for a career change. It’s possible to get a graduate degree in many fields regardless of the field in which you performed your undergraduate studies. Vocational and trade schools, such as nursing schools, offer online graduate degree programs that can build your qualifications in less than two years.
What’s your motivation in going back to school? If you’re motivated by a desire to realize your dreams, then choose the course and degree program that will be most likely to help you do so. Check out your chosen school’s reputation at the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
If you’re motivated by the prospect of enhanced earning potential, you can look up your chosen
field’s average salary at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website. The BLS website will also give you some idea of which jobs you’ll be qualified to do once you earn your new degree. You’ll also find statistics on the projected rate of job growth within your field, and you’ll get a heads up if you’re entering a particularly competitive field.
Should you choose a Master’s or a PhD program? A doctoral degree can qualify you for a wider range of positions, but earning the degree takes a lot longer. It can take several years to earn a PhD, depending on your chosen field, program and individual course load. Earning a Master’s degree generally takes about two years, if you go to school full-time.
As costs for colleges continue to rise and deciding to return to school to get another degree becomes a harder decision. However, be sure to have a very clear idea about the direction you plan to take after graduate school and it is likely you will reap great rewards for the effort.