Much like the decision to marry or become a parent, enrolling in a graduate degree program is one of life’s most monumental commitments. And like those other two milestones, getting your online graduate degree can be exhilarating, exhausting, exciting, and expensive.
But in the end, the rewards are plentiful. Here are seven of the best reasons to take that grad school plunge.
1) You stretch intellectually while pursuing your passions.
The focus required to earn an online graduate degree lets you take a deep dive into the field of study that stirs your soul. Unlike the broad, sometimes-unrelated coursework that comprised your undergrad curriculum, each class in your master’s or doctoral program adds another layer to your ever-widening knowledge base in your field of interest.
Many graduate degree programs offer tracks, or areas of specific concentration, which let you further refine your focus. For example, ACU’s 100 percent online Master of Business Administration program gives students five track choices:
- International Business
- Business Analytics
- Healthcare Administration
- Operations and Supply Chain Management
The Master of Marriage and Family Therapy (MMFT) degree program offers students with a passion for helping others three-track choices:
- Treatment of Trauma
- Child and Adolescent Therapy
- Medical Family Therapy
Participants in this program are required to deliver 500 hours of actual therapy to people over the course of the year. No matter which online grad degree you pursue, you can be sure your coursework and the associated internships are immersive and thorough.
2) You get to keep inspired company.
While immersed in your field of study, you’re surrounded by like-minded peers who share your interests and career goals. This creates a dynamic, synergistic learning community that’s further enhanced by the knowledge and expertise your instructors bring to your courses.
Learning from faculty members and guest experts who are leaders in their disciplines keeps you inspired, motivated, and engaged—creating an enriched learning experience that lays the foundation for your future career success.
3) You qualify for higher pay.
It’s no secret that earning a graduate degree has a proven, positive impact on your income level. Since 2000, the U.S. labor market has increasingly favored workers who hold a graduate degree. A 2019 article written by Career Outlook explains how education and unemployment rates are tied together. “Workers age 25 and over who have less education than a high school diploma had the highest unemployment rate (5.4 percent) and lowest median weekly earnings ($592) in 2019 among those at all education levels. Workers with graduate degrees had the lowest unemployment rates and highest earnings.”
Your online graduate degree’s return on investment does depend on the specific field in which you use it, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides great examples of industries that offer the highest salaries for workers with a master’s as compared to those holding bachelor’s degrees:
- Healthcare and Social Service
4) You enjoy better career prospects.
In today’s increasingly competitive job market, the best way to differentiate yourself from the pack is with a graduate degree. According to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey, 38 percent of employers have raised their educational requirements over the last five years:
- Forty-one percent of employers are hiring college-educated workers for positions that had been primarily held by those with high school degrees.
- Thirty-three percent of employers are hiring more workers with master’s degrees for positions that had been primarily held by those with a four-year degree.
5) You grow your professional network.
Every connection you make in graduate school has the potential to be a career-enhancing relationship. Your fellow graduate students, the school’s administration and faculty, and every industry expert or guest lecturer you meet can play a part in your professional advancement.
These associates may provide personal references for you when you apply for a position, and they can also act as great referral sources that are happy to recommend you for new job openings they learn about.
6) You may lead a longer, healthier life.
Yes, it’s true. People who receive higher education live longer than those who don’t. CNBC cites a study that collected data on more than 48 million death certificate records spanning from 1990 to 2018.
Researchers found that not only did people who receive higher education outlive those who do not, failing to obtain a high school education could be as detrimental to a person’s life as smoking cigarettes. Improving education impacts health “by resulting in healthier behaviors, higher incomes, stronger cognitive development, and more vibrant social connects and psychosocial resources,” explains Virginia Chang, one of the study’s key contributors.
7) You get to make a positive contribution globally and locally.
A graduate degree in your chosen area equips you to make a positive and lasting contribution to the community in which you live and work. You may also have a significant impact on the entire body of knowledge in your industry. If you pair this with your Christian faith, as ACU Online’s grad students do, you become a leader who is ready to engage the world as a critical thinker, creative problem solver, global citizen, and volunteer.