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Why Go To Graduate School

Why go to graduate school? Many people who complete high school and get a college degree are not sure whether to continue their education. This article will explain why you should go to graduate school. Keep reading for the benefits of graduate school.

In a country in which Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Michael Dell, for example, can be both college drop outs and billionaires, people wonder why they should invest the time and money to go to graduate school. Here are some thoughts about why going to graduate school might be worth it for you.

Terminal Can Be Good

Although a terminal disease is a very bad thing, a terminal degree can be wonderful. A terminal degree is the final degree in a field of study. For some fields, such as the fine arts, this is a master’s degree, and for professional trades, degrees may have less standing that apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and other experience. But for many fields it is a Doctorate or a professional degree, either First-Professional Degree or a subsequent one.

For example, an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing is the final degree, and after that a writer increases his or her credentials by practicing his or her trade: writing poetry or novels or scripts or essays or short stories. But for fields in which a higher degree is possible, not only does a terminal degree give you expertise in your chosen field and communicate your expertise to others, but for certain careers, a terminal degree is an absolute prerequisite.

Staking Your Claim

Usually the time spent in completing an undergraduate degree in an academic field is time spent learning the fundamentals of that field-the knowledge and skills and conceptual frameworks that underpin it. In fact, the desire to ensure that the student has breadth of understanding may seriously limit the actual amount of work in a field that the undergraduate does. And the work a student does actually do in his or her chosen field, if any, is generally a set task or under the guidance and direction and on the project of someone else-often as a research assistant.

The opportunity to stake out one’s own section of the field, to develop one’s own unique approach and contribution, comes about with and through the further opportunities provided by a graduate school experience. It is at this point that one has sufficient background to branch out, and the rewards of this experience make it quite different from the undergraduate period.

The Graduate Lifestyle

Not everyone’s graduate experience is the same: it depends on your chosen field, on your personal qualifications, and on luck. But in the best circumstances, it is a chance to engage and think full-time about the most interesting dilemmas in your field while being paid, either as a teaching fellow or a research assistant while you do the coursework that will prepare you to embark on your own chosen area, with no other obligations (none created by the graduate school, anyway).
Not only do you have these possibilities, but you are surrounded by people whose interests and abilities and chosen area of interest are akin to yours. Some of these people are young and eager, as you are-your fellow students, and others are older and more experienced-your professors-and have as their task nothing more nor less than helping you to become established in doing what you want to do, in bringing you to the point at which they can call you colleagues.


It’s not only best-selling authors who get to see their names in print. People who write papers to present at conferences, who co-author research reports, who write journal articles: they all get to see their words published and sent out around the world, and this is part of the work of a student in graduate school.

The Future

The median income of people in the work force aged 25 and older and in possession of a professional degree in a 2006 study was approaching twice as much as the median earnings of a person with a Bachelor’s Degree ($85,860 compared to $46,440). A Master’s Degree and a Doctorate both led to marked increases in median income as well: $55,450 and $78,210 respectively. Graduate school is a few years: the increase in income is for life . . . Think about it . . .


US Department of Education: Digest of Education Statistics: “Table 372.   Distribution of earnings and median earnings of persons 25 years old and over, by highest level of educational attainment and sex: 2006”

Institute for Data Analysis and Visualization (IDAV) “Fortune and Glory!”

Written by Mary Elizabeth