Alumni Advice: How to Know if a Master’s in Education is Right for You

Student & Alumni Stories Education

If you’ve asked yourself: “Is a master’s in education right for me?” recently, you’re not alone. I asked myself the same thing when it came time for me to decide which master’s degree to pursue. Should I pursue education? College counseling? Should I go another route and pursue an MBA? What’s best for me?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. Some questions to consider include:

  • Do you have experience working in the field or are you trying to break into it?
  • What are you looking for in terms of a career outcome or path once your degree is complete?
  • Is the field of Education something that just interests you or something that you are serious about building or starting your career in?
  • Is this degree a way forward to getting that promotion or dream job?

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Why I Chose to Pursue a Master’s in Education

Personally, I didn’t know the answers to all of these questions when I enrolled in Northeastern’s Master’s in Higher Education Administration program. I came from an educational travel sales background and then transitioned into college admissions, so getting my master’s in education seemed like a good opportunity to find out more about the field I was now immersed in and happened to love. I was, however, still unsure about several aspects of earning my degree, including:

  • How was I going to manage classes and a full-time job?
  • Would I like being in a 100 percent online program?
  • Would earning a degree be worth it—financially, professionally, and socially?
  • Was this degree essential to getting a promotion? Was it necessary for me to have in order to land an executive-level role?

Truthfully, I didn’t really think everything through. Although I did end up enjoying the program, I realized that I didn’t have a precise career goal in mind when I first enrolled. Many of my classmates wanted to be Directors of Admission or Career Services Managers or Deans of their colleges. Me? I wanted to survive and learn about what else existed in higher education and how I could get there. I envisioned this program as an easy way to gain a glimpse into other sectors of this fascinating industry—a path that would ultimately give me that “light-bulb” moment where I would immediately say, “Yes, that is the job for me, and I know exactly how I am going to get there!”

How I Benefitted From Earning an MEd

I am very lucky that I benefitted from the program professionally, learned a great deal, and made some great connections. I especially loved that the 100 percent online aspect of the program turned into a positive attribute. I was able to build better relationships with my classmates, absorb more information (since everything was written instead of spoken), complete assignments at my own pace, and take the time to compose my thoughts in a more intentional, effective manner. I was able to gain knowledge in specific areas like faculty tenure, financial aid and education law, race and equity issues, strategic enrollment management, and more. Above all, I was able to utilize admissions and enrollment strategies from my classes and incorporate them into my job.

Things to Consider Before Applying

I should have, however, asked myself more questions before I started. So, when considering a master of education program, here are some pieces of advice:

  • Take the time to find out the cost of the program and what potential careers you can gain after the degree. Consider if you think it is worth it—financially, professionally, and socially to you.
  • Seek out others in your dream job positions, someone you work with, or someone in higher education, if you don’t already work in the field, and check if they have the same or a similar advanced degree. Ask them if they think getting their degree was worth it, and how they chose the degree that best fit their needs. If they’re a close colleague that you trust, ask their opinion on whether they think an MEd is the right fit for you.
  • Look at the curriculum–does the subject matter (for the most part) interest you? Would these classes be useful in your job?
  • Check your calendar: can you dedicate a couple of hours per week for classwork in addition to your other commitments?
  • Are you comfortable with taking classes that are 100 percent online?
  • Find a mentor in the industry. You will be so glad you did.

While this is not an all-inclusive list, it’s a great starting point.

Get comfortable with doing some research and asking those tough questions before you officially take the plunge. I’m glad I pursued an MEd, as I now have my dream job, but I probably would have had a much easier time if I asked myself the key questions like, “What is my goal at the end of this degree?” “What am I hoping to learn?” and “Should I speak to someone who has been through this degree to see if it’s worth it?”

Remember: you’re not the only one asking these questions and trying to figure this out, so don’t be shy about asking for help. Start today by reaching out to an admissions coach to get personalized advice to better understand how an MEd can help achieve your goals, or download the e-book below for more information.


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