A large portion of today’s workforce faces the dilemma of whether or not to pursue a master’s degree.
With the bevvy of distance education programs available to working professionals, it has never been easier to pursue graduate education. But there is still a high degree of uncertainty.
The high tuition costs associated with master’s degree programs can deter potential students. What many people do not realize is that there is usually a very high return on investment with master’s degrees. Here are four common master’s degrees with a significant return on investment:
Project coordinators and associate project managers usually enter the field with the goal of becoming a fully-fledged project manager. With the experience gained working alongside a project manager, typically the only thing holding back an entry level project management associate from progressing into a management role is a master’s degree in project management. There are many online master’s degree programs in project management that allow students to advance their career in project management without sacrificing their current position.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, entry level project coordinators and associate project managers can expect a median annual wage of $67,280, while project managers can expect a median salary of $108,200. Masters programs in project management typically range from $21,000 to $38,000 in total tuition, which shows that there is a significant return on investment for those who chose to pursue a graduate degree in project management.
Architecture & Engineering
Architects and engineers with multiple years of experience often transition into management roles later in their careers. In order to gain the business and management skills required for management positions in these fields, many of these professionals choose to obtain a master’s degree in engineering management. Candidates in architectural and engineering management can expect very strong competition in the job market, further demonstrating the value that a master’s degree can have in terms of making a candidate more attractive.
Tuition for a top engineering management program such as the University of California – Berkeley can be as low as $11,220 for in state students. The median salary for architects is $76,930 and the median for engineers is $91,010. The median salary for architectural and engineering managers is $134,730, which is a considerable increase in salary. From this, it is clear that a master’s in engineering management can provide a significant return on investment.
The career path for a human resource specialist is one that often leads to a role in management. Candidates looking to move into a management role can expect strong competition for most positions. A great way for candidates to distinguish themselves from the pack can be to pursue a master’s degree in human resource management. A master’s degree in human resource management can give prospective management candidates the skills in conflict management and industrial psychology that are required of managers in the human resources industry.
Tuition for human resource management graduate programs can go below $12,000 a year, making it a very affordable graduate degree option. The median annual wage for a human resources specialist is $59,180 while the median wage for human resources managers is $106,910. This is over an 80% increase in salary for a management position.
Computer Science and Information Systems
There are many different job titles in the computer science and information systems field. Software developers, computer programmers, and computer systems analysts are all careers that can eventually lead to a management position. Computer and Information systems managers usually hold a bachelors in computer science or information systems, but in order to become an attractive candidate for management positions, many companies require an MBA. An MBA will supplement a candidates existing computer skills by giving degree holders the business skills and knowledge required for management roles.
Between the three roles of software developer, computer programmer, and computer systems analyst, the median salary ranges from $79,840 to $102,280. The median salary for computer and information systems managers is $135,800. With MBA tuition often under $20,000, managers in the computer science and information systems field can expect to see a return on their investment in a short amount of time.
There will always be a large degree of uncertainty when deciding whether or not to pursue a master’s degree. When deciding whether or not to pursue a graduate degree, it is important to look at the return on investment. In most cases master’s degrees pay for themselves after only a few years.
- Liz Thach Ph.D., Brian D'Emilio
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