Are Master’s Degrees Really Worth It?

With shifts in job markets, many experts and students now wonder if a master's degree is truly worth the time and money.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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master's degree

For years the importance of furthering education has been instilled in students preparing to graduate high school or finish their first college degree programs. Many colleges herald the need to earn a master’s degree to keep up in a competitive market. While it is true that some fields require extensive training, the current job shortage has left many businesses dropping their education requirements in favor of better training programs that teach new hires to do exactly what they need to in order to be successful in their specific job role. This has led many students to wonder if a master’s degree is truly worth the time and money.

Certain professions will always require a full college education. Doctors, lawyers, Linguists, psychiatrists, and other professionals working in serious fields need a doctorate degree in order to properly perform their duties, but the list of fields that require a master’s degree isn’t nearly as prestigious or expansive. In fact, some may argue that these fields aren’t nearly as in demand and that plenty of individuals have entered them without a master’s degree.

master's degree

The fields that generally require a master’s degree are, education administration, political science, human resources, counseling, economic advising, and others. Despite this, many of these fields promote experienced professionals without the added degree. This is a case of experience over extended higher education and it’s being witnessed across the country. 

The state of Maryland recently removed college requirements for state employees. Instead, state workers will be extensively trained through hands-on learning practices that better prepare them for the careers they are entering. In addition, Colorado is working to encourage student work-force programs to better prepare high school students for jobs and career responsibilities. As the labor shortage continues, more and more professions are dropping master’s degree requirements and creating more intensive training protocols that build a better business culture.

The United States labor shortage has continued to affect many industries, but especially service jobs. Applebees and IHOP have already announced that they will be using robots in the near future. Many other restaurants across the nation are turning to robotics as a solution, but not every industry can do so. Those that need human cognition and flexibility are finding that master’s degree requirements are not always necessary.

master's degree

In addition, plenty of students are not satisfied with the results of earning their master’s degree. For years colleges have expanded their degree programs to cater to personal interests instead of the job market. Students interested in niche teachings can earn a master’s in feminist studies or art history, but those topics cater to very few real-life jobs. Plus, the fact that not all universities are accredited or accepted as educational standards. The increase in online school programs led many students to enter college degree programs that were offered by institutions that are not on par with traditional universities. 

Master’s degree programs can be fulfilling and rewarding in some fields. There are plenty of students who are still working to learn well after they earn their bachelor’s degree, but it depends on their field and workforce demands. Each student has to decide what works best for them in an ever-changing career market.