Reasons to Attend Graduate School
Adapted from petersons.com/graduate-schools/guide-students-graduate-school.aspx
In some disciplines, having a graduate degree is a necessity for getting a “career” job. That does not mean you should dive right in immediately after completing your undergraduate degree. Make sure you have a good reason for attending. Some of the reasons below are more valid than others, but they are all common reasons for which people attend graduate schools.
- Greater earning power. This is a popular reason why people go to grad school. However, it should not be the only reason, since getting a grad degree is a very serious commitment.
- Advance your career. A grad degree can open up a wider array of career opportunities: psychology, social work, healthcare.
- Career change. Many people are finding their current careers unrewarding. An advanced degree can help transition to another career—whether out of desire or necessity.
- Enhance your education. Graduate schools can provide opportunities to explore theories you may have about a topic
- Get community recognition. If you explore your theories and discover something new, you will get recognition for it.
- Get international recognition. Carry that recognition further. If your discovery is truly groundbreaking, you may receive international recognition, not to mention awards. Who knows— maybe you have a Nobel prize within you.
- Get research opportunities. Even if you do not get to explore your own theories, there are other opportunities to participate in funded research.
- Upgrade your education. Your knowledge of your field is outdated and you find it difficult to keep up with advancements without following up and getting an advanced degree.
- Enjoy travel opportunities. Some programs, such as archaeology, require studying abroad for research purposes. For those who like to travel, this is a bonus.
- Find teaching opportunities. Not everyone is suited to teaching, but for those who are, getting a Ph.D. can lead to a tenured position at a university or college, with a nice salary, a teaching or research assistant to help with workload, consulting opportunities (partly shared with your department), and a nice pension upon retirement.
- Work on advanced projects. For example, the computer scientists who delved early into computer graphics set the standards for much of the CGI technology used in movies today.
- Access to advanced equipment and tools. In a similar vein, entering a grad program could mean having access to advanced equipment on campus—such as the astronomy lab, supercomputers, rare books, and even great minds.
- Higher potential for future promotion. While obtaining a graduate degree does not necessarily always lead to a high-paying job right away, it can open up opportunities for future promotions.
- Not being stuck behind a desk. If you have the necessary education to qualify for a high-ranking position in your chosen industry, it means that you often have the option of not sitting behind a desk all day. You might go meet colleagues or clients, travel, or even play golf in the afternoon on a nice day
- Employer incentives. Some large corporations have funds set aside that will pay partial or full fees for qualified employees.
- Be part of a chain of knowledge. This doesn't tickle everyone's fancy, but just imagine that the knowledge handed to you by your professor came from another professor who learned it from someone who learned it from a famous scientist or philosopher. You become part of a chain of knowledge.
- Because you want to. To learn, to think critically, to accept the academic challenge.
- To stand out. By attending grad school and completing a degree, you join an elite segment of the population.
- Free tuition. In some cases, grad schools might not only waive your tuition, but also give you a stipend for living expenses in return for taking on the work of a teaching assistant or research assistant.
- Realization of interest. Not everyone realizes during undergraduate studies that they are suited for grad studies. Some of your professors might recommend it to you and offer to supervise—with tuition waived and a research assistant position to cover expenses.