This morning I was working out, listening to Pandora when an ad interrupted my station (yes, I use the free version) trying to convince me to get a Master’s degree. Incidentally, I don’t have a Master’s degree. Instead, I’ve been surviving on just a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. A fact that some might find strange because my day job is software engineer, but that’s a post for another day.
There was a time when I wanted a Master’s degree. You see, a few years ago I worked for a company that offered to pay the full tuition bill. As long as a I maintained a “B” average, I could take free classes. I decided to take them up on their offer and start pursuing a Master’s in Computer Science. I had no plans for what I would do with my new degree, it just seemed like a good idea at the time. Well, more than 10 years later, I’m glad I never finished the program. I like my day job and I’ve come to realize that in my field, a Master’s degree would actually just slow me down. I feel like I’d be stuck spending time learning about general computer theory using outdated technology, while missing out on valuable on-the-job experience with the latest and greatest tools and techniques.
There are more reasons I choose not to pursue a post baccalaureate degree…
It costs money
I no longer work for a company that will cover education expenses and those degrees are expensive. MBA programs can cost between $40k and 60k per year. Holy cow! I don’t think I would get a very good return on my investment. Other people might be able to work out a deal with their employers to cover all or part of the tuition, but even then there may be strings attached. For example, your company may want their money back if you quit or get laid off.
It takes time
Usually two years, but maybe more if I’m trying to squeeze classes in at night and don’t have all the prerequisite undergraduate work done. Are you ready to commit your nights and weekends to studying? I’m not. I have a blog to write!
There’s no guarantee it will get me more money or a better job
Maybe it would be different if my company came to me and said, “We’ll pay you x percent more if you get a Master’s degree.” But, in my field it’s more about your experience and skill than it is about your degree. I’m not about to shell out $50k with nothing but a hope and a prayer that the investment will pay off.
Society is too pushy about it
I just feel like there’s this general push by society to go out and upgrade your life by getting a Master’s degree. It’s like the new Bachelor’s degree. It will unlock a glorious new world of higher pay and career advancement. And if you don’t get that degree, you’ll limp along, unable to compete with everyone else and their mother who already have a Master’s degree.
I’ll admit that some jobs require a minimum amount of post-graduate education: Doctors, lawyers, scientists, and college professors. If any of these jobs are your ultimate goal, then by all means go forth and learn. Otherwise, can you get to where you want to go without a Master’s degree? If your goal is to move up the corporate ladder into management, have you considered starting your own business instead? You don’t need a degree to be an entrepreneur.
What do you think? Is getting a Master’s degree worthwhile?