7 Career-Focused Reasons to Pursue a Graduate Degree

Perhaps you’ve been working in the same role for several years and want to take on additional responsibility. Or maybe you’re a seasoned professional with more than a decade of experience, looking for your next big role in a new industry. But how do you get there, or even get started?

Going back to graduate school could be the right choice for you. A graduate degree can be the best path to enhance your career, whether you’re looking to earn a promotion, boost your paycheck, or strengthen your professional network. No matter what your needs may be, here are seven career-focused reasons to pursue an advanced degree.

“I Want to Switch Industries.”

Earning an advanced degree enables you to change careers by helping you learn more about a new field and gain the skill set you need to make the switch. Some graduate programs, like those at Northeastern, allow you to gain hands-on experience in the field through experiential learning opportunities, such as co-op, short-term projects, in-class case studies, and research. This hands-on experience bolsters your resumé while signaling to employers that you have the transferable skills needed to be successful on the job.

“I Want to Increase My Salary.”

Bachelor’s degree holders are estimated to earn $2.27 million over their career, according to Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, while master’s degree holders can make up to $2.7 million—a sizable increase. What’s more, depending on your chosen industry, you can almost double your salary with an advanced degree. Just keep in mind that some fields have a higher payoff than others.

“I Want a Promotion.”

If you’re looking to secure a promotion, a graduate degree can help you move up the ladder at your current company. Certain industries prefer or require an advanced degree to transition into highly visible roles, particularly in management or leadership. Other fields require by law that employees have a master’s or doctoral degree before working in a specific role, such as a doctor or lawyer.

If you’ve been in the workforce for several years and want to transition out of your current job, then the best way to do that could be with an advanced degree. For example, if you are interested in becoming the executive director of a nonprofit, a master’s in nonprofit management or public administration might be an ideal next step.

“I Want to Specialize in a Particular Field.”

With a graduate degree, you can focus on a more specialized area of study, thereby demonstrating to employers that you have the high-level skills and competency needed to add value to their organization.

For instance, a project manager looking to specialize in portfolio management—analyzing the overall scope of a company’s objectives—may want to earn a master’s degree in program and project portfolio management.

The majority of employers also agree that specializing in your industry can add significant value to your career. According to a recent Gallup survey, 84 percent of companies said the amount of knowledge a candidate has in a specific field was “very important,” followed by 79 percent who said they most value a candidate’s transferable skills.

“I Want More Career Opportunities.”

A graduate degree offers more opportunities to excel in your career by learning new skills that can help you stay competitive in the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobless rate for employees with master’s degree or higher is 12.5 percent lower compared to those with only a bachelor’s degree.

Where you choose to study can also help you advance your career. If you’re eager to work in information technology, then consider earning a degree in a thriving tech community like Silicon Valley or Seattle, while those interested in financial services or the medical field should consider Charlotte—a major hub for healthcare and banking.

Since there’s a higher percentage of jobs in certain cities requiring workers with a graduate education, you’ll also gain access to more job opportunities. In Silicon Valley, more than double the number of people hold graduate degrees compared to the rest of the U.S.

“I Want to Build My Network.”

No matter what stage you are in your career, having a large network is crucial.

Earning an advanced degree helps you build your professional network by meeting people who come from different backgrounds and industries. In graduate school, you’ll also study with professors who have relevant industry expertise.

The more connections you have, the stronger your network, and the easier it is to advance your career.

“I Want to Be In-Demand.”

Whether you’re applying to new jobs or are looking to add value to your current organization, a master’s degree gives you a competitive edge in the workforce. Going back to graduate school provides you with the knowledge and skills needed to stand out in the crowd.

According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, 33 percent of organizations are hiring employees with a master’s degree for positions previously been held by those with a bachelor’s. As the workforce evolves, employers are looking for candidates whose skills and knowledge can evolve with it.

A graduate degree positions you to meet other talented professionals, gain new job opportunities, and advance your career. First, however, you must determine your goals. Can a graduate degree get you there?


Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of earning a master’s degree? Keep reading to prepare for grad school success, and discover the impact a Northeastern graduate degree could have on your resumé.