Graduate school: should you attend?

Megan Godby/The News Olivia Reed, graduate student from Bowling Green, Ky., takes notes during class.
Megan Godby/The News Olivia Reed, graduate student from Bowling Green, Ky., takes notes during class.

Megan Godby/The News
Olivia Reed, graduate student from Bowling Green, Ky., takes notes during class.

For some students, education can go beyond four years and a bachelor’s degree, and many students consider graduate programs as an option to further their education.

Murray State offers 37 master’s degrees with more than 30 concentrations of study, nine graduate certificates, three specialist degrees and one doctorate degree for students to go deeper into their fields of study.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 778,000 master’s degrees and 177,000 doctorate degrees are estimated to be awarded in the 2013-14 academic year.

Jennifer Ratajczyk, senior from Sesser, Ill., said she is hoping to further experience in her field by going to graduate school.

“With today’s economy and job market, it is almost hard to find a job without (a master’s degree),” she said. “It is something I feel is needed in today’s society.”

According to the latest U.S. Census report, from 2002 to 2012, the population with a doctorate grew by around 45 percent, and those with a master’s degree grew by approximately 43 percent.

Courtney Noland, coordinator of domestic graduate recruitment, said graduate degrees can provide different avenues for students.

“A graduate degree may be necessary in (a student’s) professional field and may improve (a student’s) current career by offering advancement,” Noland said. “(A graduate degree) may also provide a solid foundation for a career transition to a different field and will help make (students) more marketable in today’s competitive workforce.”

The median earnings for young adults with at least a master’s degree was $59,200 in 2011, according to the NCES. This is compared to $45,000 for those with a bachelor’s degree and $37,000 for those with an associate’s.

Murray State offers financial assistance for students interested in enrolling in graduate programs and are still eligible for financial aid.

Noland said Murray State also offers graduate assistantships as an option for students. This involves teaching, conducting research or general administrative assistantships.

She said these assistantships are a popular option for graduate students because they allow students to work on campus in a professional setting while receiving a stipend.

Out-of-state and international students are offered a tuition discount, which allows them to pay in-state prices.

The average two-year master’s program can cost between $80,000 and $120,000 a year, according to Fox News Business.

Another option for students is an Innovative Research Assistantship. Noland said these assistantships pay a higher stipend than normal assistantships typically do, but require supervised research with a faculty member and presenting research at a public forum or conference.

Before applying for graduate school, Noland said there are several different things a student needs to do, depending on the program they are applying for.

She said students need to talk to a graduate coordinator in the program they are interested in. Next, students need to submit a graduate admission application and pay an application fee. Depending on the program and its requirements, students may have additional testing such as the Graduate Record Examinations or Graduate Management Admission Test. Other programs may only require letters of recommendation or essays.

Murray State added two more graduate programs this month. The Master of Arts in postsecondary education administration and a doctorate of education and community leadership will be available to students beginning in fall 2014.

Faith Cooper, senior from Murray, said she is interested in pursuing the new doctorate of education, which will soon be available to students.

“I think the degree will be a wonderful addition to the education department,” she said. “It will provide more options for those who are looking to further their education.”

Cooper said she thinks it will help those in their education field increase their respectability and professionalism.


Story by Rebecca Walter, Staff writer