When wondering and asking, “What master’s degree should I get?” there are several things you’ll need to consider.
Not only will you want a master’s that relates to your undergrad studies, but also one that can fulfill your future goals.
Let’s review some of the most important things to consider when choosing the perfect program.
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Do I Need a Master’s Degree?
Before deciding to enroll in a graduate program, it’s important to think about whether one is necessary for your field.
Some students opt to get a master’s because it’s their goal, while others require one for their job.
Every specialty has requirements for its field. For example, to become a psychologist, it’s likely you need a master’s degree to practice.
A few other popular reasons as to why you might consider obtaining this elevated type of degree include:
Let’s say you completed one field during your undergrad studies and committed three to four years to obtain your degree.
Then, upon graduation, you decide that you want to switch fields and focus your skills elsewhere.
In this instance, you might want to consider going for your master’s in this new field.
Instead of having to complete an additional four years’ worth of undergrad study, you can get a graduate degree.
Advancing in Your Current Field
One of the most popular reasons students pursue this degree is to help them advance in their current field.
Your master’s program will focus on a specific area of study, giving you enhanced skills compared to your peers.
You’ll learn about the subject in deeper detail, allowing you to enter the job market with an assortment of skills.
Many graduates find that they pursue their master’s well after obtaining their graduate degrees to improve their job options.
Others decide to follow through with a graduate program right after their undergrad.
Either way, you’ll have improved skills that make you more hirable than others in the same field.
Obtaining a Doctorate
If you want to obtain your doctorate or your career field requires it, you first need to complete your master’s.
Considering a doctorate is the highest degree field that you can achieve, it requires plenty of preparation.
It’s always important to confirm the criteria that need to be met before applying for a doctorate program.
However, likely, you’ll first need to complete a master’s degree.
There’s no doubt that when you’re venturing into the world of graduate degrees, you’ll build a diverse network.
You’ll be able to meet other like-minded professionals in your classes, as well as network with your teachers.
With a diverse network of contacts, you could open the door to new career opportunities.
How Do I Choose a Master’s Degree?
It’s important to remember that the master’s degree pathway isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
Every specialty will have its own program, and you’ll need to choose the avenue that best suits your needs.
There are a few key steps that you can use to help you decide which master’s degree is best to help you.
Look at Job Expectations
The first thing we recommend you do is to look at the expectations and requirements for a professional in your desired field.
Are there specific skills required before you can get hired?
Will you need to learn certain theories and concepts to be able to do your job effectively?
If so, you should consider getting your master’s.
Most often, job postings will provide information about the educational requirements applicants will need to meet.
If you’re finding that most companies require their applicants to have master’s degrees, this proves one will be necessary.
Talk To Professionals
As you go through your undergraduate studies, you’ll likely make a network of professionals in your industry.
Often, talking to these individuals can give you a good idea of what graduate degree programs are bound to benefit you.
You can get an idea of what programs they took and others they recommend for up-and-coming professionals.
One of the most significant benefits of talking to your network is getting a real-world perspective on studies.
You might find the degree program you were initially contemplating isn’t worth your time, whereas another area of graduate study could benefit you with the tasks you’ll encounter.
Consider Job Salary
If you’re trying to figure out what master’s degree is best for your needs, looking at salary expectations is ideal.
There are certain types of degree programs that can help increase your salary more than others.
Also, it can give you a good idea of whether to stick with your current field of study or switch to another interest.
A few examples of master’s degrees and their average salary include:
- Master’s of Education: $41,220
- Master’s of Science: $84,800
- Master’s of Business Administration: $57,700
Understand the Types of Master’s Degrees
The last thing we would recommend to help you choose the ideal degree is to know what types are available.
Like your undergraduate degrees, there are different types of master’s degrees across a spectrum of subjects.
Let’s take a look at the most common offerings you’ll find from graduate programs in your area.
Master’s of Science
Master’s degrees in science typically range between one and two years, depending on the specialty.
You’ll also be required to complete a scientific thesis about several science-related subjects.
The most common career fields that can benefit significantly from a master’s of science include:
- Earth Science
- Social Science
- Information Technology
Master’s of Arts
A master’s of arts is another standard option for students interested in philosophy and social sciences.
Like a graduate science degree, these programs span between one and two years.
A few other examples of career fields that can use a master’s of arts include:
- Fine Arts
Master’s of Education
If you intend to bring your teaching skills far beyond the classroom, applying for a master’s education program is ideal.
These programs are designed to help teachers achieve higher positions within schools, such as a dean.
When you’ve completed your teaching certifications, you can then pursue an M.Ed.
Master’s of Business Administration
Often, one of the best things students can do is choose a graduate program that’s highly applicable to several jobs.
This benefit can be directly experienced with an MBA, which is a type of management degree for business people.
You’ll acquire practical and general knowledge about all areas of operating and working within a business.
The people most likely to benefit from an MBA include:
- Operations Managers
- Marketing Professionals
- Human Resources
- Financial Advisors
Master’s of Healthcare Administration
Have you ever had the dream of working within a hospital but not as a doctor?
If so, a master’s of healthcare administration can be incredibly beneficial for healthcare leaders.
With this degree, you’ll work with a healthcare organization to maintain regulations and standards in hospitals.
Your primary objective is to help balance the costs of running a hospital while also prioritizing patients’ needs.
It’s a fantastic further education opportunity that is sure to only increase in popularity over the years.
Master’s of Cybersecurity
This master’s degree is slightly more unique than some others on this list, but it’s incredibly versatile.
As the world becomes a more technologically advanced place, it’s important to have the skills companies need.
A master’s in cybersecurity gives you the ability to assist companies with managing technological safety.
You’ll be responsible for managing the operational and technical needs while protecting them from cyber-attacks.
It’s also essential to have a clear understanding of proactive steps to help save tech resources and minimize risk.
How To Apply To Master’s Degree Programs
Now that you have a good idea of what master’s degree program to apply for, knowing how to start is essential.
It’s important to note that getting accepted into graduate programs can often be more complex than undergraduate programs.
You’ll be in direct competition with your peers to be accepted into a program about your specialty.
With that said, you’ll need to ensure you have a good GPA and good transcripts to be accepted.
A few other steps to make a note of include:
1. Gather Your Entry Requirements
Before you begin the application process, it’s vital to ensure you have the correct entry requirements.
Every master’s program differs, as some require specific types of documentation that others don’t.
For example, if you’re applying for an international master’s degree program, you could need IELTS, TOEFL, or GCSE scores.
It’s best to make a checklist of everything you’ll need to submit, along with the primary application papers.
These items could include:
- Personal statements
- Research proposals
- Reference letters
- Proof of your Bachelor’s degree
2. Begin the Application
When you find a degree program of your choosing, you’ll want to review the application to ensure you’re prepared.
You’ll want to confirm whether you need to mail in your application or if you can do it online.
It’s also important to note when the submission dates are to ensure you submit your application on time.
Always ensure the information you provide is up-to-date and accurate; otherwise, there could be delays in the application process.
Once you’ve completed the application form, it’s important to double-check that you have everything for submission.
One of the most important things you’ll likely have to do is find reference letters.
3. Get Reference Letters
There’s no better way to set yourself apart from other applicants than to have reference letters.
Like applying for a job, these letters come from industry leaders who recommend that you get accepted by a specific program.
It can be a lengthy process to find recommendations, whether you obtain them from your professors or others.
The entire purpose behind this communique is to show a graduate program that a trusted individual believes you’ll succeed.
Depending on your degree program, you might have to obtain two or three references from trusted professionals.
4. Create Research Proposals
Another important document you’ll likely need to apply for your master’s is your research proposal or thesis.
This item is a project that you’ll complete during your studies and will be graded.
After your program, you’ll finish your thesis, and it will determine whether you’re granted your degree.
Depending on the program you’re entering, the thesis requirements could vary.
With that said, they most typically require the following information:
- Theoretical literature
- Contextual literature
- Research gap
- Description of methodology
- Research Impact
5. Submit the Application
Once you have all of the required materials ready for your application, it’s time to submit it.
The processing times for master’s degree programs vary depending on the number of applicants.
Typically, the registrar’s office should keep you updated with any important information.
You might also have access to an online portal to help you track your application process.
If any further documentation is required, it will be expressed through the portal for you to track.
What Masters Degree Should I Get: Final Thoughts
If you’re wondering, “What master’s degree should I get?” there are many things to consider first.
You’ll need a program that suits your professional needs and that guarantees a good salary.
It’s also essential to find a field of study that you have a passion for to ensure your future success.