Is Graduate School Still Worth It?

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In an age where technology is more prevalent than ever, there are individuals who are able to financially thrive off of professions that did not exist a hundred years ago. Even fifty years ago, one would not be so likely to hear someone say they want to pursue a career as a social media influencer.

With a wider variety of professions that do not necessarily need a college degree, it can be questioned whether or not graduate school is still the road to success. Notably, graduate school has become an expensive road and one that not everyone will or should pay for.

According to, graduate school is a lot more competitive than undergraduate school. With more people to compete with, one should carefully consider all their options before deciding on attending graduate school.

The Harvard Business Review states that in the United States of America, one-third of adults are college graduates, which is comparable to a far smaller 4.6% in the 1940s. 

In terms of financial commitment, notes that the average cost of a master’s degree is $62,650. For many people, this is no small financial investment.

Ultimately, graduate school can be worth it. However, one must weigh out the investment of time and money into their decision.

“I’m looking to become a lawyer eventually, so part of that career path is being able to go to law school and get licensing,” said Juston Casanova, a political science major who serves as the director of elections for CSUN. “Graduate school is very much a place you go when you have a plan in mind.”

Casanova further expanded on how he is already preparing for law school and attempting to make himself a well-rounded and qualified applicant by minoring in economics in addition to his political science major.

Casanova said, “I would say that people should be careful in deciding whether or not they are going to graduate school if they’re not sure what career path they want to go down. That’s because graduate school costs a lot of money and a lot of times the niche degrees that you get from a graduate school won’t necessarily apply to a lot of professions.” 

Casanova’s advice to one seeking an alternative choice to graduate school would be for one to finish their bachelor’s degree before going right into work in the field they wish to pursue. 

He believes that at that point, one is in a good position to decide if they would like to come back for a graduate degree as opposed to wasting their time on the assumption that they wish to attend graduate school.

Aside from the cost, there are still a multitude of both positive and negative factors to take into consideration.

According to PBS NewsHour, the number of graduate students has tripled since the 1970s, and 27% of employers now require a master’s degree for positions that have previously been fulfilled by those with just an undergraduate degree according to Fast Company.

Historically, people have learned far more by gaining real-life experience on their own instead of through school. Many employers have noted in the Harvard Business Review that employers need skills rather than knowledge and titles. 

Employers including Google, Amazon and Microsoft all claim learnability to be more important than curriculum knowledge acquired in college.

Evidently, pursuing graduate school may open up a whole new extensive horizon of job opportunities. With these additional job opportunities, there also comes the potential to make a higher salary.  

If one is looking for more advanced opportunities in the workforce or even higher eligibility for promotions, graduate school may be the way to go. Getting a graduate degree can often be the differentiator between a committed professional with a specialized skill set and any other replaceable candidate.

For many people, master’s degrees may serve as a gateway to skill sets or credentials that prepare students for their desired vocation or career move. Eventually, going to graduate school could significantly increase a student’s marketability in the work field.

This potential to increase one’s desirability through graduate school could be a great one. According to Forbes, an astounding 82% of managers are not very good at leading people. This implies that our society is currently in dire need of qualified leaders, which graduate school could potentially set one up to be.

If one is unsure of whether or not one should be attending graduate school, the best route to take would be to further educate oneself on the various schools and programs of graduate schools to understand the benefits of what each one offers. 

Especially in this post-COVID-19 era, virtual events still have a foothold in major American universities. Students considering applying to graduate school should take advantage of this by attending virtual meetings and informational sessions to have the benefit of learning more about these programs without the inconvenience of visiting every school.

The most that students can do to best prepare themselves for consideration of graduate school would ultimately be to educate themselves on their options, utilize their advisors and apply for scholarships to lessen the potential financial burden.

Solid options for who to inquire about graduate school aside from advisors may include pre-law, pre-med and other graduate groups or clubs on campus.

There is no definite and objective answer to the question of how worth it graduate schools are, as the answer to such a question really depends on the individual person and their goals, financial plan and overall personal situation.


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