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According to recent surveys, Americans with a graduate degree earn an average of 35 to 50 percent more than those with just a bachelor's degree. That's certainly one reason there are more people than ever applying to graduate school.
When weighing whether or not to go to grad school, you should realistically assess what you expect from a graduate degree and exactly what program will suit you best.
Many people make the decision to return to grad school after working in "the real world." Some feel that their career options are otherwise limited. Others find that their interests and abilities have developed over the years and no longer have anything to do with their undergraduate education.
Career Or Salary Advancement
The upper levels of your field may be closed to people without an advanced degree, no matter how talented or industrious they are.
Switch From Practitioner To Administrator
After working in the trenches for a while and developing a strong sense of how your organization is run, you may be interested in moving up to the management level of your field. This often requires some graduate education.
The Lure Of Ivy Walls
To teach at two-year colleges, you'll need at least a master's degree and maybe a doctorate or professional degree. To teach or do research at four-year colleges, universities, and graduate programs, you'll need a doctorate and/or the "terminal" professional degree in the field - MBA, JD, MD, etc.
Social workers, psychologists, therapists, and others who directly treat or counsel generally need graduate education to meet national and state licensing requirements. The proper licensing and credentials are also essential for getting insurance reimbursement. Many insurance carriers authorize payment only to practitioners who meet certain educational and licensing standards.
Love of Learning
Many people choose grad school simply because they love the field, job prospects or money notwithstanding.
The Job Market
A slow economy is a popular reason for going right from college to grad school. The reasoning is: "Since I'm not going to get a job anyway, I might as well go to grad school. Maybe the job market will be better when I get out." This may not be the best idea. Bottom line: add a realistic appraisal of career prospects to your idealism and career hopes when you're making grad school plans.
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