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Graduate Degrees: Still a Great ROI

Higher education and graduate students rely on each other. In exchange for the research graduate students conduct, the classes they teach, and the fresh thinking and new ideas they offer, universities provide stipends, teaching experience, and access to a progressive and intellectual community.

In these uncertain economic times, a graduate degree still provides a great return on investment. According to the US Census Bureau employees who hold advanced degrees earn an average of $78, 093 per year. But a graduate degree offers more than the opportunity to earn a higher salary. Seeking a graduate degrees develops problem-solving skills and teaches students to expect the unexpected.

The course of study for a PhD requires deep thinking, the ability to conduct focused, ethical research, and the willingness to draw a conclusion based on theory.  Another salient benefit of graduate education is that it exposes students to new and different approaches and ways of thinking, as well as introducing them to various cultures and lifestyles. These experiences crossover into numerous career choices within and outside of academia.

So, how can those of us in higher ed better serve our graduate students and prepare them for complex, interdisciplinary work in their future careers? One way is to lead by example through our own valuing of multiple perspectives and approaches in order to develop solutions to real world problems.

We need to work hard to broaden the opportunities and experiences we offer graduate students so that they can increase their own marketability in their careers. Most importantly, we must be realistic and recognize that some graduates may find jobs outside higher education, and we should prepare them for such. Students who pursue graduate education sacrifice much such as moving to another state, putting up the capital and/or securing loans, and committing themselves to years of hard work.


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