After investing a minimum of sixteen years in school at one level or another, it’s sometimes difficult to fathom spending a couple of more years in pursuit of an even higher level of education but anyone wanting to start as high as possible on the corporate food chain might seriously consider investing the time it takes to earn a graduate degree.
Unlike lower levels of education, the graduate degree process isn’t as rigidly structured so the actual amount of time required to earn a masters degree depends largely upon the student. Most students are told to expect an average of two years to complete the program.
A graduate degree is much more independent study, too, than undergraduate studies. An advisor guides the graduate student but, at this level of study, independence is deliberately tested.
Students pursuing a graduate degree will be required to formulate a course of study involving a great deal of original research and analysis. The results of the research must then be formally documented in the thesis that marks the most daunting task of the degree program, according to many graduate students.
In fact, many students working toward a graduate degree never get through the writing part of the program. About half of them drop out, earning the designation as ABD students – All But the Dissertation.
Earning a graduate degree often means a student has spent the better part of the first 25 years of life in the education system. This might seem like an exceptionally long time but today’s average life span allows about twice that long for a career.
Workers holding a masters degree often get the better paying jobs, right from the start. This won’t shorten the expected 50-year-long career but it may make it much more rewarding on several levels.
When comparing the gains that can be achieved by spending two more years in school versus 50 years on the job, the graduate degree program doesn’t seem like that much extra time invested after all.