Not every career needs a master’s. The only time you need a master’s degree is when it is a requirement for a state or federal license, or if you wish to work in academia. For most, a master’s degree is a way to set yourself apart and to expand on your skill set, but choose wrong, and it can be a colossal waste of time and energy.
A master’s degree is best taken after you have a few years of experience working along with your career. You will then have a better understanding of what you want to do and what you are interested in. If you aren’t careful, however, you could end up choosing a degree that teaches you nothing more than what you have learned on the job over the years.
You need to be very particular about the degree you choose. Make the right choice, and you can open up so many new doors and set yourself apart from your competition in the best of ways.
To make that right choice, always use this guide as a checklist:
Can You Complete It Successfully While Working Full-Time?
It’s a hard choice to take time away from your career to go back to university. Thankfully online degrees take that dilemma out of the equation entirely. You will still need to pay for international student fees if you apply from outside the country of residence, but you won’t need to deal with student visas, their costs, or the accommodation costs. You can work and pay off your degree entirely, or at least a large chunk of it all at the same time.
There are so many reasons to choose an online degree, but of course, not all “online” degrees are created equal. You need to make sure that the degree was designed to be completed online and works with you to help you balance a whole degree and your career at the same time.
- The Degree is 100% Online
The only time you should ever have to go to a physical location as part of your degree is if there are legal requirements for state licensure. Nursing, for example, has clinical hour requirements. An MBA, however, does not. Therefore, it should be 100% online, and even more importantly, allows for flexible learning. This means that it keeps any mandatory log-in times to a minimum and instead allows you to complete your degree at your own schedule.
You’ll still be required to do a certain amount of work per week, yes, but if you can choose the specific hours to dedicate to your degree, you can make it work with your career.
- The Degree is Accredited
Accreditation isn’t everything, but when you are dealing with online degrees, you want to know for a fact that it follows through with its every promise. Accreditation ensures that the degree meets a high standard and, more importantly, that employers and other academic institutions will recognize the degree you are earning.
- The Degree Accepts Both Work Experience and Undergraduate Experience
You are earning this master’s for your career. Your career at the moment might have very little to do with your undergraduate degree, which can limit what you can apply to for a master’s. Thankfully many degrees will look at your work history and experience instead of just your academic experience. This is a must if you are looking to earn a degree that will help you with your current career path.
Be Clear with the What You Want to Achieve from Your Degree
Ensuring that the degree can be completed while working full-time is the bare minimum. You next need to know what you want from your degree and to narrow down your options so that the degree you choose will best suit your current career goals. In most cases, this means finding a degree that will either advance your existing skillset or branches into a new field that allows you to push your career into a very profitable niche.
- Advance Your Skillset
Advancing your skillset with a master’s is best done in STEM subjects. Employers don’t often have the time, resources, or means to train you to advance your skills and knowledge in chemistry, for example, and seeing the work done by higher-qualified scientists alone is not enough to make you qualified to do their work.
In these instances, earning a master’s and yes, a PhD or other level doctorate is a must to advance your career. Just make sure when you are searching for degrees that the choices in front of you are designed for someone at your level, and not someone who is going in from a more generic background into that industry.
- Expand Your Skillset
For most, earning a master’s is most valuable when you use it to expand your skillset. This can either be to establish yourself in your current position further, or it could be useful for directing your career in a new direction. For example, if you started with a computer science or math degree, but find you hate the job you currently have, then you can start fresh with the right master’s.
An MSc in Business Analytics is ideal for those with a background in math, statistics, computer science, data science, engineering, physics, economics, business, or even accounting. Even if you don’t have an undergraduate, but instead work experience in these areas, the chances are that you can improve quality for the degree.
You will then be able to use your background and learn creative problem-solving. You will learn everything you need to make you ideal for analytics roles, from the evaluation stage to problem-solving. Unlike others performing a similar role, you will have data to back you up and know how to read information and extract real, actionable solutions from batches of numbers.
Translating your career into a niche like this is an excellent way to make yourself more hirable and to increase your salary average.
Explore Student Testimonies and Alumni
Finally, narrow down your last remaining options by looking at student testimonies and seeing where alumni for the degree you are looking at are now. If they are in fields or positions you want for yourself, chances are you have found the right degree for your career.