So, what are the strong reasons for going to grad school? A graduate degree is necessary for your desired professional field, may improve your career and increase your options and professional prospects, and serves to satisfy your intellectual curiosity and spark passion.
A graduate degree is necessary for your desired professional field
Career preparation is first among the good reasons for going to grad school. Certain fields such as health care, law, teaching, and social work require an advanced degree (or in some cases a certification) in order for you to legally practice or to be recognized as a professional.
If you’ve already started doing some research into programs and schools for your target degree, you should also:
- Talk with people who have the job and degree that interests you
- Consider whether certification in your field (which can happen within a graduate degree or sometimes outside of one) is qualification enough for your aims
- Attend an Idealist.org Graduate Degree Fair for the Public Good
A graduate degree may improve your career
Grad school can help you do your best work and better position you for more opportunities for advancement in your career. Your graduate degree may just be a clincher in a negotiated pay raise! While a graduate degree does not automatically lead to a promotion in title, salary, or responsibility, it can be very personally, if not also professionally, rewarding.
On the other hand, a graduate degree is not the only option for professional development. Many institutions offer continuing education or certificate programs to meet the specific needs of working professionals who wish to build their skill set affordably and flexibly.
- Consider whether individual college classes or professional development workshops can help you gain the knowledge you desire
A graduate degree may increase your professional options and prospects
Going to grad school can help you gain more flexibility in the type of work you do currently, or prepare you for a bigger career transition, such as switching sectors, industries, or professions. Either way, a graduate education can teach you more advanced skills and in-depth knowledge of an area outside your specialty, or provide a solid foundation in a completely new area. Besides the degree, grad school can be a good place to network with professionals from a range of fields. Seize the opportunity to not only learn from your professors, but also your classmates and peers—what are their areas of expertise, what trends do they foresee in their fields, and how can you collaborate? The education and connections you gain from grad school can open doors for you in the future.
- Visit the Idealist Career Center
- Access our free book about making a successful career transition into the nonprofit sector, The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers
A graduate degree serves to satisfy your intellectual curiosity and spark passion
Maybe there isn’t an immediate practical application for your desired degree. That’s okay: curiosity can be one of the good reasons for going to grad school. As Erin Kane, M.S. Nonprofit Management, shared in an interview about her grad school experience, “graduate school gives you the space to be reflective and the time to carefully wade through information—two things that are growing scarce in our society.”Grad school can provide you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in your subject of interest, which you may otherwise find hard to do outside of academia.
That said, grad school is a costly way to pursue learning for learning’s sake. Are you ready for the financial and lifestyle challenges that accompany graduate studies?
Conclusion and further resources
Having one or more of these good reasons for going to grad school is key to your success.
Next, you should research and weigh the benefits and costs of pursuing an advanced degree to determine if you are indeed in a position to apply and if so, when. You should also research programs available to you.
- Read our articles on alternatives to graduate degrees
- QuintCareers.com’s article “Considering Graduate School? Answer These Five Questions Before You Decide” is a worthwhile read.
- Gradschooltips.com is a good site that covers the issues surrounding graduate study in a basic and straightforward manner.