Why consider graduate school?
Graduate school can be academically, personally and financially rigorous however, a few good reasons why graduate school makes a difference in your career and earning potential are:
- Personal growth: Some people are lifelong learners. They have an insatiable desire to add to their knowledge reservoir, challenge themselves academically, and experience what they consider to be among the most rewarding life pursuits: developing the mind. For these individuals, a graduate education offers the opportunity to do all of that and in a structured way that can deliver great personal satisfaction.
- Greater employment opportunities: In many career sectors, such as higher ed administration, public affairs, and social services, a master's degree is replacing a bachelor's as the minimum requirement for employment. With a bachelor's degree in the 1980s, one could secure an entry level position as an admissions counselor, academic adviser, or student services coordinator. By the 2000s, applicants for these same entry-level positions were not even considered unless they held a master's degree. While holding a graduate degree is not a guarantee of ultimate success, it certainly opens many more doors for employment.
- Greater career advancement: Earning a graduate degree is evidence of persistence, determination, intellectual prowess, and the ability to handle challenging environments—all of which are sought-after qualities for individuals filling manager and director positions. An employee who has demonstrated success in a long-term situation that requires stamina, discipline, leadership, and the ability to work well with others is going to be in line for growth opportunities within his or her organization.
- Financial reward: Anyone considering graduate school would be less than wise if he or she did not consider the return on investment. For grad degree holders, the numbers are favorable: U.S. workers between the ages of 21 and 64 with a master's degree or higher earn an average annual salary of $55,242, versus those with a bachelor's degree whose average annual salary is $42,877, according to the United States Census Bureau. That represents nearly a 30 percent difference in average annual salary—and offers clear evidence that completing a graduate degree can make a positive impact on one's financial situation.
- Sense of accomplishment: The feeling of personal satisfaction one gets from walking across the platform to receive a master's or doctoral degree is overwhelming. The effort put forth to complete your studies, despite moments of doubt and uncertainty, will stand as a central character-building life experience.
- Greater recognition and credibility: There are countless numbers of graduate degree holders who have gone on to accomplish great things, and who are afforded the respect and recognition they deserve and have earned. Unquestionably, an advanced degree makes a difference on a résumé. It says something about who you are and the dedication you have to your chosen field.
Source: US News & World Report
How to get started?
To make certain that you have a clear sense of how you want to proceed once you've completed your undergraduate work in Sociology, check into the appropriate preparation work now. Talk to professors and graduate students about graduate school possibilities. There are excellent pre-graduate advising services available through the Student Academic Success Center Pre-Graduate/Professional School Advising as well. You can also investigate various graduate programs on your own.
Sociology faculty are an invaluable resource when preparing for graduate work - talk with them. Faculty are well versed in how to proceed with preparation for graduate work, they can make recommendations about which institutions to consider, and they can serve as a sounding board for your ideas and plans. Furthermore, faculty may write letters of recommendations for students with whom they have developed a rapport.
Sociology graduate students are also a great resource. After all, they recently went through the graduate school admissions process and can speak to their experiences, both positive and negative, to give prospective students a contemporary feel for graduate school.
Be sure to use all your resources when considering an advanced degree program. If you need help choosing the master's program best suited to your goals, or, if you are interested in Ph.D. programs, see a Sociology faculty member.