I graduated college a few years ago. Instead of continuing and pursuing a master’s degree, I ended up joining the workforce in the public health sector. I was fed up with classes and did not really see a need to continue. Additionally, I wanted to start making money. Although I do make a solid income, I see that promotions are being tied to education. Honestly and objectively speaking, I don’t see myself much different than others looking for promotions. How can I gain some advantages over others looking for similar promotions, and what options are available so that I can continue education while also working?
Your question is one asked by countless students and employees looking to make an objective decision toward their future. Several decades ago, master’s degrees were mostly a step in the process of achieving a doctoral degree. In the last few decades, however, organizations have valued the pursuit of these types of degrees given the improved critical thinking and problem-solving skills obtained from completing the rigorous curriculum of universities that offer advanced degrees. As master’s in business administration (MBAs) and other master’s degrees became more prevalent in universities around the world, companies began looking toward these degrees as criteria for filling employment positions.
The growing popularity of master’s degrees has a lot to do with the advancements in information and communication technology (ICT). While decades ago it was necessary to go to class physically to complete a degree, today, this is no longer the case. Students log in to a web portal and complete degree requirements using a combination of options that include asynchronous and synchronous classes. Going to class using today’s technological possibilities can be simple. But, decades ago, the strain of investing time and resources additional to the effort needed to complete classwork prevented individuals from pursuing advanced degrees. Generally, this option was reserved only for those that had the time and resources to become full-time students.
Practically all universities currently offer degrees that are partially or entirely online. Meaning, students can complete the entirety of the program from the comfort of their homes. Such access has increased the popularity of online learning and, consequently, has placed pressure on others competing for similar jobs to continue education. In some cases, a bachelor’s degree may not be enough to meet the steep requirements of employers. Even so, are advanced degrees worth the investment?
According to the United States Department of Labor, in 2013, individuals with advanced degrees had a 3.1% unemployment rate compared to 6.1% of those without an advanced degree. Furthermore, according to Forbes, individuals with advanced degrees earn 30% more than those without one. Concerning jobs that involve leadership roles and higher-level positions, most companies will require or prefer that individuals applying for these jobs have a master’s degree in a related field.
If the promotion that you seek involves a supervisory position or leadership role, you will need to consider the fact that it is necessary to continue your education not only to be qualified to apply for the job, but to also remain competitive in the industry. Therefore, begin exploring the options available within the public health sector sphere. Analyze universities that offer online MPH programs so that you can study while you continue to earn a living. Look at the courses offered and choose a university that provides access to courses and topics that you want to learn. Lastly, make sure that the educational institution is regionally accredited and that your employer values a degree earned from that institution.