Graduate programs: why paying up pays off
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Graduate programs: why paying up pays off

A graduate degree? You sweated blood, sweat, tears and quite a bit of money to earn your undergraduate qualification; why on earth would you head back into the ring for a second round?

The debate of whether graduate study is ‘worth it’ rages on, as it has for decades; the financial rewards are pitted against the ramifications ad nauseam. Firstly, and importantly, one much-lamented point must be aired: graduate degrees cost money. Sad but true.

But, as some bright spark once said, you don’t get something for nothing (apart from the universe, as Big Bang theorists will, no doubt, interject)- in fact, investing time and money in a graduate qualification can pay off in far more ways than simply by paying the bills. Need convincing? Here goes…

1. Personal growth

Before you skip merrily over this point as a ‘soft and fluffy’ reason- wait. While bodies may age, with the majority of its parts heading south in some manner or means, there is one aspect of the humble human that can, with a little help, continue to develop ad infinitum: the mind. Humans have the capacity to add to their knowledge reservoir continuously, challenging themselves and developing their minds- one of the most rewarding pursuits possible. Graduate education facilitates this sort of lifelong learning, allowing students to progress beyond their all-too-brief undergraduate careers and thrive in a structured learning environment that can lay the foundations for stimulating, satisfying lives.

2. Dig deeper into the subject you love

If you are considering graduate study at all, it’s highly likely that you at least enjoy your chosen subject (unless you really enjoy hating what you do, in which case…carry on!).  As one who does, in fact, love their subject, you’re probably keen on the idea of learning as much as you can about it. Say, for instance, that you’ve really enjoyed studying a specific disease in frogs; there’s a pretty good chance you’ll want to carry on and develop a cure for that disease. If you studied to achieve a BA in business, why would you stop when you could carry on, delve deeper into the subject and develop to become a formidable tycoon? So, through a graduate course, you can!

3. Greater chance of career progression

Tackling graduate study and coming out at the other end with a qualification shows determination, flair, intellectual prowess and the ability to thrive in challenging situations- all qualities which are sought-after among employers. Graduate education requires students to demonstrate what can only be described as academic stamina; an applicant who has been successful in a long-term situation that requires such stamina, along with discipline, leadership and the ability to work well as part of a team is likely to tick a whole lotta’ boxes with an interviewer. Of course, realistic expectations are important: a graduate degree is not a guarantee of unbridled professional success- but it sure is impressive and sure does help.

4. Educate and be educated

Many believe that life as a graduate student involves a great deal of ‘alone-time’ between dark, musty library shelves. Not so. A large number of institutions encourage their graduate students to gain teaching experience as part of their courses, either by tutoring undergraduates or by acting as academic assistants to senior professors. This way, not only can students work hard for their degrees by- shock horror- taking time away from their screens and books and interacting with others; they can also use their knowledge (which, by graduate level, is pretty extensive) to contribute to the development of younger enthusiasts. Who knows? It could reveal a hidden passion for teaching which, in turn, could kick-start an incredibly rewarding career!

5. A chance for a change

Graduate courses can represent the ultimate freedom: a chance to change careers and get stuck into a more enjoyable/useful/lucrative discipline. For one who is dissatisfied with their original career choice or subject choice at undergraduate level, a graduate degree such as a Master’s is an excellent- and relatively speedy- way of gaining a respected qualification in a new area. Say you’ve come to the end of your three-year Music BA course and realised that you were born to be a lawyer. No problem- grab your gavel and head off to grad school. If Richard Gere in ‘Chicago’ is anything to go by, you can probably sing while you qualify.

So, convinced? Thought as much. Now, read on to learn about institutions in the USA that offer world-class graduate programmes…

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is one of the nation’s premier research universities. Its eight colleges offer over 80 areas of study, supported by more than a dozen research centers, labs and facilities which provide hands-on experience for students in a variety of disciplines. UAH is home to nearly 8,000 students from the US and beyond. The low faculty-to-student ratio and small class sizes create the ideal environment for learning, delivering a curriculum to challenge and inspire. As a tier-one research university, UAH offers students the opportunity to take part in high-level research projects, in and out of college. Read the full profile.

Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is one of the top public universities in the US, with a strong commitment to delivering an educational experience that is designed to prepare students for lifelong career growth, lives of engaged citizenship and leadership in a global society. The University offers a welcoming, safe and diverse community where the creative ideas and achievements of all can benefit others throughout Ohio, the nation and the world. The Bowling Green State University Graduate College prepares graduate students for real-world challenges within a vibrant research-based, interdisciplinary and international graduate environment. Read the full profile.

An urban research institution located on a beautiful 145-acre campus in Youngstown, Ohio,Youngstown State University was listed among America’s Top Colleges by Forbes magazine in 2013 and emphasises a creative, integrated approach to education, scholarship and service. Established in 1908 with a single commercial law course, the University now hosts a student community of more than 13,000 across not only 166 globally-renowned undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degree programs but also a broad spectrum of internship and co-op opportunities. Student success is the foremost goal of the Youngstown State; to reflect this, the institution is home to a host of campus resources, plus nationally and internationally renowned faculty, to promote and facilitate student engagement.

Missouri State University’s Graduate College offers over 80 programs, including Graduate Certificate programs, Master’s degrees and specialist degrees. Doctoral degree programs include Audiology, Physical Therapy, Nursing, Nurse Anaesthesia, Educational Leadership (Cooperative program with the University of Missouri, Columbia) and Pharmacy (Cooperative program with the University of Missouri, Kansas City). Graduate students are afforded ample opportunities to work alongside a nationally and internationally renowned faculty conducting research, apply for Graduate Assistantships which may focus on teaching, research and administrative responsibilities – as well as becoming involved with student organizations on campus.

Dedicated to the development of well-rounded leaders and critical thinkers capable of confronting the increasingly complex, dynamic and global issues facing society, Texas A&M University-Kingsville provides exemplary Higher Education at the heart of one of the nation’s most culturally and ethnically diverse regions. Situated in Southern Texas, the University offers an extensive array of baccalaureate, masters, doctoral and professional qualifications and is keen to cultivate an academically challenging, learner-centred environment in which all members of staff are committed to supporting and contributing to students’ success. The University’s College of Graduate Studies offers the most comprehensive selection of graduate programmes in South Texas, running over 60 degree programmes in 44 disciplines across its five academic colleges.