Is a Masters Degree Worth it?


By Paul Silli 

I was sitting at my kitchen table sipping some coffee casually reading a newspaper story which was about graduate students and their potential earnings. After reading the story, it made me re-think if getting my master’s degree is beneficial. Understand, I don’images1.jpgimages1.jpgt like to second guess myself, but this article made me question my decision. The costs and time needed to complete any graduate program are extremely high. A friend of mine received his graduate degree in Electrical Engineering. He is now working for Hewlett Packard, and making a lot of money. So for him, it was worth it.

For me, when I leave school, I will owe more than $13,000 in loans. I am finding the classes to be fun and informative… but is this goal cost efficient? After speaking with my teacher pals, I found most of them do not have the energy or money to start and complete a graduate program. They often tell me “With my kids and household duties,” I simply don’t have the time.” 😉

According to, research shows if a person achieves a master’s degree, in any field, the average annual salary is about $53,000. However, for teachers, the increase in salary is about 4%, (give or take), depending on the county. So, for example, if a teacher is making $40,000 a year, they would earn about $41,600 with a master’s degree. You don’t have to be a math teacher to see if you indebt yourself by $10,000 or more – for a degree, it would take near 10 years in “salary increases” just to break even.  

As a teacher, I know there is “no price” for the wisdom and quality of learning I am receiving. But it does make me think. Before entering my graduate program, I did do plenty of research… however, this news story challenged my decision. So I ask: Will the long term benefits of a master’s degree outweigh the initial costs? What is knowledge truly worth?


23 Responses to “Is a Masters Degree Worth it?”

  1. boardwatcher Says:

    Take a look at Martin L. Gross for his take on advanced degrees in education….Warning the guy is harsh….Some exerpts from the book at: I think his main point is if you want to get your moneys worth get an MS in an academic discipline rather than education.

    Sorry to be a party pooper.

  2. gatorball Says:

    I appreciate the link to his book. I read his ideas; food for thought.

  3. ayrolyn Says:

    Its a tough sell, when a teacher is already so strapped to do things like buy a home or save for retirement, can the investment really payoff? I suppose that it depends upon where one is in one’s career as well. The degree is worth more early on, where the % have the ability to grow more.

  4. Lois Says:

    Well, it’s certainly clear that we are not in this for the money!

  5. gatorball Says:

    Sure, we are not in it for the money. Teaching always has been an honorable profession. However, with all of the certifications, degrees, tests, and pro developments… we take, you would think that a more respectful salary would follow. You would think getting a masters degree would pave a better financial road for this wonderful career. Just something to think about. 🙂

  6. crodrigo Says:

    You ask some very good questions. Before starting this program I think all of us have asked ourselves those same questions. Is it really worth it? I think the answer depends on one’s perspective on life and education. I’m not sure where this degree is going to lead me but I see opportunity in many places. For instance I read Kim’s Blog about “Web’s Feeding Frenzy” an article in the Rocky Mountain News. The article was informative but it could be improved to be a teaching tool on RSS. That is not the goal of a newspaper but why not? Companies are always looking for an edge, something new, something different than the competitor. What if one of us proposed such a thing to the newspaper? One of us could be creating useful content for their website. Projects like this can help bring the money to payoff the student loans. And they can be developed from home. I want to take the lead in the problems I solve. This program has been a lot of fun and I’m learning so many things that I know I can transfer into problem solving. By the time I’m done, I will also owe lots of money but it’s only money.

  7. kiddkc88 Says:

    I, too am not thinking about the money. However, if you plan on making a career out of teaching and being in the education field longer than 10 years, I think it is a good benefit. But, I did notice that on our salary scale, as well.

    P.S. Tim Tebow is over rated, Go Sooners! ( I know….They’re overrated, too..But why did they have to lose to CU? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH) Go Buffs!

  8. gatorball Says:

    Thanks again for the replies. Yes, I know I am not in it for the money. That’s why I have commited to my graduate program. And yes… I am sure it will pay off later, and could open up new opportunities to other fields. It is worth the venture, I hope.

    PS_ No gator bashing here kiddkc88. Not allowed! lol. Tim Rocks and you know it! 😉

  9. bergerjacy1 Says:

    glad you brought this up. I have not commited to the master’s program but often wonder why I will or if I will. I don’t think it will be for the $$$. If i can swing it with all the other things i do then it will be for the love of learning and the opportunities it might bring for me. Wow, we really don’t make much more with a Masters.

  10. rroberson Says:

    Since we aren’t in it for the money, you can’t go wrong with a masters degree. In our ever changing world our current job can be redesigned into something we aren’t comfortable doing any longer. Maybe your school is loosing head count so they have to layoff a teacher. Do you want to move somewhere across town to teach or teach in a field you hate? Maybe, but there are other options. Many people I know have left teaching to become educators for large companies. Yes, they teach adults, but they get paid very well. They wouldn’t have gotten the opportunities if they had not had their masters degree. Just more food for thought!

  11. singhjulie Says:

    I see how you are saying that it would take 10 years to pay back the investment of paying for your masters degree, but as I am currently at the topped out with a BS degree + 40 hours, once I have my masters, I can go up two or three levels beyond just the masters – masters + 20, masters + 40 and I think my district has masters + 60. I’m in a district that gave a mere 1.4% raise last year so, I am thinking that 4% sounds pretty good right now.

    I also agree with the most of the comments that are given above – money isn’t everything (I left my previous job for about 1/3 of the pay that I was making). There is something to say about the satisfaction of teaching and helping kids. The more prepared that we are to do so, the more satisfying it can be.

  12. harlequinsgazette Says:

    Dear Gatorball,
    As someone who lost three years of college due to disease and malpractice, I say go for it and don’t even question the monetary value. I am having to start over again (this means everything, haven’t even enrolled into school again). Learning is never ending and if more doctors were as passionate about it as you are, I would be working on my masters also.

    Good luck in your endeavors,

    Thanks for the tips on blogs. I may need to add you to my blogroll. I am guilty of all the no-nos…especially spell check.
    Eh, I’m new to it.

  13. gatorball Says:

    Big thanks for your comments. I will follow your wisdom and go for it! I have committed to the program, regardless of the financial draw-backs. Oh, and I hope you are well. Health is everything, and we often do not realize this until we have issues. 🙂
    PS_ I like the name: Harlequin Gazette.

  14. brentgwilson Says:

    If your interests are strictly monetary, I’d suggest you consult a financial planner. A 4% raise early in your career should compound significantly by the time you retire – and then you’ll enjoy a higher retirement level for the rest of your life. It’s what they call “compounding value.”

    On the other hand if you’re at the end of your teaching career, the monetary value may not be so high.

  15. gatorball Says:

    Yes, Brent. There are ways to make it work, I’m sure. The program is fun, and I really do see potential for other areas with the degree. The monetary value may not be as valuable of an argument; but the long term benefits could make a masters very worthy.
    It is all about planning and seeking ways to improve yourself. That is why I continue. 🙂

  16. Sherri Says:

    I say “go for it!” There are always the possibilities for better advancement outside of teaching. However, I would hate to see the education field lose such a gifted teacher.

  17. Hazen Says:

    I am hoping to complete my masters in the next two years, it’s in Information Technology Security, as a consultant I may almost double my income at that point so the initial investment of 30K is well worth it in my mind, however I hope to teach when I retire (probably high school), so that being said as you may see it’s well worth it if you are in the private sector and your masters is in your field however for academia unless a Doctorate is your goal you will not really see a large benefit.

  18. gatorball Says:

    To Hazen, It is good that you are going for your masters. It seems it will surely pay off for you in your field. I am glad I am seeking my masters. Since this story, I have found MANY career opportunities for me in the ILT field. If with a poor economy, there are still some jobs and opportunities to grow in the tech field… and a masters in that field helps get the interview. 😉

  19. potential teacher Says:

    Hi Gatorball.
    I just read your post that you wrote awhile ago. How are things going with the masters? Has it been worth it? I am in the process at looking at grad school and am curious in your opinion now that some time has passed.

  20. gatorball Says:

    With an economy at over 11% unemployment, “any” competitive edge you can obtain is a worthy venture; especially in the Tech & Educational industries. If you were a retail manager asking the same question… I would tell you “no.” Because in the business market it’s all about making the numbers for profits and gains (a masters means nothing)! But in the educational field it can get you new positions at your school, better pay, respect, and make you more marketable (you can teach at the secondary and adult-ed levels). So go for it! Also interest rates for student loans and aid are less than 5%, and the government is a good lender to owe when pursuing an advanced degree (they work with you). Additionally, there are plenty of scholarships and grants to earn. Oh, and don’t forget the honor & pride you will have for the rest of your life from earning a Masters Degree. 😉 Good luck. /Paul
    PS_ My Grad Program offers both online & in-person classes (it has been a good experience). I would recommend you look for a similar option.

  21. NMT girl Says:

    Well whether it’s worth it or not cost wise, I can tell you it is for sure worth it education wise. I am currently teaching and working on my masters degree in teaching science. As a current science teacher I love the program I am in because it is an insane amount of fun. I have a sister getting her masters in education from another university so I know it is not the same anywhere. I attend New Mexico Tech, not an online or ITT tech kind of place, it is a highly reputable university that turns out top notch scientists. I don’t know how they work it out, but I get my classes 90% paid for by scholarships, as do all the teachers in the program. The idea is to turn out high quality science teachers to motivate the scientists of tomorrow. So far I am half way through the 30 credit program for a real accredited M.S. and I only have $1500 in debt… Plus I get to do insane cool things like build computers, play with optics kits, drop things off buildings etc. It’s all in where you go and what programs you get into.

  22. Nilesh Patil Says:

    I m indian jus cmpleted my engineering in electronics and telecom nd naw planning for masters in netwrking.i wud take education loan and stidy that would cost me around 25lakh i m confused to invest such a big amount..since i m worried about guranteed job after ms in us..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: