I’ve been thinking since undergrad on whether or not I should pursue a Master’s degree. There are several concerns here:
- Cost – Can I afford it? Will I go broke trying to get a Master’s degree?
- Career – Will it help my career to get a Master’s degree?
- Time – Will I be able to maintain any semblance of a social life while doing obtaining my Master’s degree? How long will it take?
I found a specific program that interests me and calculated the total costs. It would take me three years of taking about one course per academic timeframe, can be done online or in person, and would cost less than I expect to net in bonuses each year.
I calculated that I can afford it. I would not go broke, even if I was buying a condo. (This is a good reason to buy a condo that I can easily afford!) Pursuing the Master’s degree would use up *most* of my discretionary income (bonuses and non-budgeted monthly cash flow – vacations are budgeted) for the three years the degree would take me (but not quite all – raises and more bonuses would be mine).
Since I would only be taking one course per academic timeframe, I would drop to one night of sports per week and would probably still have 1-2 nights of a social life, which isn’t bad.
So the remaining factor to consider is my career. Would it help my career? From talking to my manager and coworkers, the answer is no. My long-term career goal is senior management and getting a technical Master’s degree will not help me with that – growing my soft skills will. I think it would also hinder my career in the sense that I would have less free time to devote to working extra here and there when necessary and possible.
And honestly, I don’t think that a MBA would help my career growth either since a) I already make six figures with just my Bachelor’s degree, b) they are really expensive, and c) through career development within my current company, I could easily move into the business side of things with significantly less time and financial cost than pursuing a MBA.
Conclusion? I’m not going to pursue a Master’s degree – I’m going to keep playing sports and growing my career without it.
Readers, do you have advanced degrees? Did it help or hinder your career? Or did it have a neutral effect? Obviously it was a requirement to get a TT job, but in other fields (such as industry for my field), it’s different.