4 answers

Is pursuing a master's degree or higher worth it?

Updated Ashville, Ohio

I currently pursuing my Bachelor's degree in environmental sciences, and I originally was going to pursue a master's and a Ph.D. after its completion. However, in speaking to advisors, classmates and a couple of individuals in related fields, I have become hesitant about my original plan. With all the issues currently going on with graduate programs, and being told that some of the jobs I have interest in do not require higher than what I am pursuing, I am asking if I still should apply for them? And, if it would actually do me good, even if I become over-qualified. Thank you!
#graduate-school #environmental-science #masters-degree #phd #higher-education

4 answers

Benjamin’s Answer

Updated

While no one can answer whether or not graduate school is right for you, I will say it was a good move for me. I would like to point out that every year more and more graduate programs are being offered on-line or in programs designed for working professionals. Perhaps entering the work force and spending time in your field might help you to better evaluate the need for graduate level education.



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Benjamin - Thank you for your answer. We need more advice like this, now more than ever! There are more than 1k unanswered questions on CV right now. Hoping you'll answer a few more this week!
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Thank you so much for your answer! I've contemplated entering the work force and seeing if the additional degrees would still be beneficial to pursue, however, I'm told that once you stop school, you rarely go back. It is something to think about, thank you!

Seth Daniel’s Answer

Updated Upland, California

The additional skills and knowledge base you will develop in a Master's program are very worthwhile when it comes to advancing your career, or transitioning to a new career field. In fact, Bachelor's degrees are now so widespread that a Master's degree can provide you with a higher level of qualification than others job candidates. However, a Master's is not the right choice for everyone and for every situation. If you embark on a Master's degree, I believe there should be a clear goal in mind. Below are some examples:


My personal experience was that I did not get my Master's degree until I had already been in a career for several years. When I realized that I could not accomplish what I wanted to professionally without a Master's degree, I returned to school and got my Master's degree. It helped me qualify for jobs that I would not have been considered for without that Master's degree. But it took me a while to know exactly where I wanted to go with my career, so in my case it was worth waiting so I could choose a Master's program that aligned with my career goals.


Another example is that of a student I counseled who wanted to be a Speech Pathologist. She got a Master's degree in Speech Pathology immediately after her Bachelor's because there was no way to even work in that job without one.


Yet another example is that of a Registered Nurse. Health care organizations and hospitals often want their Registered Nurses to have a Bachelor's degree, but a Master's degree is most often necessary only if a Registered Nurse wants to progress into management or administration, or to specialize in a highly technical area of Nursing. Even with specialized areas of Nursing, an advanced certification is sometimes more useful than a Master's degree. If a Registered Nurse is happy with providing generalized health care to patients, a Master's degree is not required.


So while Master's degrees are generally very desirable and helpful, they are not necessary or helpful in every job or situation. It makes sense to have a clear destination in mind when you choose a Master's program, so you know that you're devoting that time, energy and money toward a goal that is very personalized and meaningful to you.















Seth Daniel recommends the following next steps:

  • Decide on a few kinds of jobs you will apply for after graduation. You can research specific fields using the Occupational Outlook Handbook: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
  • Reference the Occupational Outlook Handbook and job ads for the kinds of positions you are targeting, and determine if Master's degrees are preferred or required for those jobs. Also determine the number of years of experience required.
  • If a Master's degree is preferred or required for jobs you like, and those jobs don't require more than a year or two of experience, it makes sense to progress to a Master's degree shortly after your Bachelor's degree.
  • If jobs you like require a Master's degree and more than one or two years of experience, consider taking an entry level job in that field and returning for your Master's degree when you are within a year to two of qualifying for higher level jobs.
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Thank you so much for your answer and the resource! From what I am seeing, very few of the areas I am interested in pursuing require above a bachelors but do require a few years experience. Pursuing a masters and beyond was my original plan, mostly so I would be able to do research, but there are other ways to get that sort of experience. I'm still not sure what I want to be once I graduate, and I know I'm running out of time. I will definitely look over more of this information and talk with more people to see where exactly I can go. Thank you, again.

Christine’s Answer

Updated
Hi Ashley, You have made a wonderful choice in your educational major. I have always believed one cannot go wrong advancing their education. Having said that where are you strongest interests in Environmental Sciences? If you wish to continue to progress in your environmental career, you may want to continue thinking about furthering your education. “Most entry-level jobs require a bachelor's degree in environmental science or related field such as microbiology, chemistry, physics, geosciences, or engineering. Students enrolled in environmental science programs study the sciences broadly, taking courses in biology, chemistry, geology, and physics. Careers in Environmental Science | EnvironmentalScience.org https://www.environmentalscience.org › Here is where I found this information. Ashley, it is so important to research your future and what you are really interested in doing on your own. Remember you are the only one who knows exactly what you want to do with your life. Once you get some answers, then talk to the department where you are contemplating getting a graduate degree.
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Thank you so much! I have never seen that resource before. Looking through it so far, it has given me a better idea of some paths I could take. My strongest interests within my program have been geology and ecology related, though I was rather fond of the regulations courses on the non-science side. I will definitely reach out to the universities I am looking into and speak with them more. Thank you, again! I'm still a little worried but I feel a little better with a bit more solid foundation.
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Ashley, you are so welcome. May I ask what still worries you? Is there anything I might be able to do to assist you?
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Honestly? I worry about everything. (So sorry for not getting back to this sooner, by the way) I've looked at jobs in the past that I thought would be things I would like doing, however, they never ask for beyond a bachelors degree. And, rarely does "Environmental Sciences" come up on the list of majors. The recourse you provided makes this seem as though I am maybe just looking in the wrong places. I am still going to pursue the path I picked, I am still just a touch worried about being overqualified for a position and being turned down for it. I've seen this happen in the past with my mother and my best friend.
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Hey Ashley, As Environmental Sciences progresses and research increases, I think you will be perfectly qualified. If interested, with a graduate degree you could always teach ES in college, that may be one way to discover more about your major! Best of luck Ashley, I believe you are going to be very successful with all your planning and researching.

Benjamin’s Answer

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Ashley, I think "once you stop school you don't return" is an old way of thinking. The world is changing and so is higher education. The amount of graduate level programs aimed at working professionals has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 10 years. I would not worry about finding a way to return to school once you've joined the work force.
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Thank you so much for your answer! I know it is an older way of thinking, but I also know how I am. I tend to get caught up in what I am doing, and I worry that, with the way I am, I will stay in my career and not come back to school. With how much stress and drama has occurred just trying to get my undergrad, I fear it will be just as much pain the higher up I go. But, thank you again!