During this time of social and economic tumult, people are reassessing what they want to do for a living, or at least for a good chunk of life. As part of that, as with any kind of business upheaval, graduate school as a possibility often comes into focus.

Indeed, advanced education can give you the knowledge and training you need to thrive in this business environment, that is still evolving, by the way. But really, there’s a lot of time and expense involved in getting a graduate degree. So, other than when your employer requires it, when is grad school worth it? Let’s consider.

What is Graduate School?

Let’s start there. Such a school awards advanced academic degrees to individuals who already have a college degree.

How Can I Know if Grad School’s the Right Move?

Yes, you will pay in time and money to get this degree but, all things considered, it’s a great credential to have. In any case, here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide whether graduate school is a good fit for you:

  • Will it help you climb the ladder? Some companies expect certain roles to be filled by those with advanced degrees. Even if you leave that job, your degree still will come in handy. You’ll likely have more options and be able to move forward in your field. You’ll also likely make more money, which is a pretty good incentive, eh?
  • So, will it help you make more money? That question about salary deserves to stand on its own. It does depend on your field, but on average, college graduates with an undergrad degree earned $61,000 over their career, a 2015 study showed. Those with a grad degree made on average $17,000 more. 
  • Is it worth it, cost-wise? If you must take on debt to get your graduate degree – and most end up doing so – you’ll have to weigh your return on investment. After all, such a degree can run you upwards of $100,000. Take the time to check out Juno for private graduate student loans.
  • Can you deal with the workload? There’s going to be pressure, but hey, there’s a reason not everyone has an advanced degree. It is important to know, however, that this experience will be more intense and focused than undergrad.
  • Will it make you more competitive? Find out whether companies in your field would rather that you have a grad degree or a more robust work history. You don’t want to unnecessarily miss years of working in your field. Talk to people and research online. Also check out Reddit PhD for a good article on the subject. Just remember the benefits of a having a grad degree – more money, expertise, opportunities.
  • Why go to grad school? Or rather, why do you want to go? We just now mentioned the major benefits, but there’s also access to cutting-edge technology and new-to-you professors, opportunities to build relationships that will help you now, and, in the future, and perhaps chances to be awarded or recognized for your work.

Now you know when grad school is worth it – to you. Life is a series of big decisions, but we believe that you can’t hurt yourself with an advanced degree, and chances are, you’ll help yourself – a lot. In this evolving environment, it’s good to give yourself a competitive edge. Just mull the questions above honestly and make the best move possible.