Should I Go to Grad School? Here are 5 Good Reasons was originally published on Idealist Careers.
“Should I go to grad school?”
Longtime professional, current undergraduate student, or sector switcher—no matter where you are in your social-impact journey, you may have wondered whether grad school is right for you. From satisfying a degree requirement to deepening your knowledge and experience in a particular field, obtaining a graduate degree can be a great way for you to reach the next step in your career or shift what you’ve been doing in a thoughtful way.
Of course, taking this step is a big decision, and if you’re concerned about finances, time commitments, and the workload, it can be easy to lose sight of all the benefits of continuing education. Even if you do have some of those benefits in mind, you may be asking yourself, “Is this reason enough to take the plunge?”
Here are five good reasons to go to grad school. If any of these are on your list, you’re in great shape!
1. A graduate degree is necessary for your desired profession
Certain fields like health care, law, education, and social work may require an advanced degree in order for you to legally practice or be recognized as a professional, while others may only require a professional certification. Whether you’re searching for your dream job or browsing available programs and schools using the Idealist Grad School Directory, distinguishing between “need to haves” and “nice to haves” is a good way to determine what’s necessary to achieve your professional goals.
As you research programs and schools, try networking with people who have insights and experience to share. Consider asking current professionals for an informational interview so they can answer your questions about any work requirements or professional knowledge they had to acquire.
2. You want to excel in your current job or field
Grad school can help you gain skills you need to excel at your current job while also better positioning you for advancement opportunities. For example, you may find that getting a degree in nonprofit management can help you learn to implement policies at your current organization, fundraise efficiently, or even launch your own nonprofit.
A graduate degree might also be a clincher in salary negotiations, as the expertise you’ll gain from continuing education will make you an even more experienced member of your organization.
3. A graduate degree improves your professional options and prospects
Going to grad school can help you prepare you for a career transition—whether it be switching sectors, changing industries, or jumping into a new role. You can develop advanced skills and gain a solid foundation for a completely new area of focus.
Attending grad school right after undergrad can help you get a jump start at landing a role that requires a master’s degree. Not to mention, grad school is also a great place to network; your fellow professionals, classmates, and peers will be useful connections to develop and maintain as you continue in your career, both during and after your graduate program.
4. You want to nurture your intellectual curiosity and discover your passion
A deep interest in a topic or profession can be one of the best reasons to go to grad school. Not only does it provide a space for you to immerse yourself in your chosen subject, it also gives you the opportunity to find a field, area of study, or mission that sparks your passion. This is the kind of experience that grad school is in a unique position to offer, and it can kickstart your journey toward new professional horizons.
5. You want to make a difference in your community
Apart from seeking opportunities to advance your career, the expertise you will gain in grad school can have a powerful impact on the lives of others. For example, Boston School of Public Health graduate Fatima Dainkeh’s master’s degree eventually led her to work as a DEI facilitator for She Geeks Out, an organization dedicated to supporting diverse and inclusive companies and organizations.
No matter your interests or skill set, enrolling in the right degree program can not only spark your passions, but also give you the chance to take meaningful action in your community.
Still unsure if continuing education is for you? Be sure to check out Should I Go to Grad School? Here are 5 Bad Reasons for why grad school may not be a great next move.