6 Grad Degrees That are Worth the Investment

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Jacob Ammentorp Lund / Getty Images/iStockphoto

There are plenty of great reasons to continue your education and earn a graduate degree. You may be able to learn new skills and concepts that better position you for a promotion and advancement in your chosen career. Or, perhaps another industry has caught your eye and you’d like to learn more about how you can work in that field.

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No matter which line of work you’d like to pursue, here are some of the most popular graduate degrees that will provide you with the necessary education and make going back to school worth the investment.

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Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA)

Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted, has 28 years of experience as an MBA admissions consultant. Abraham said graduate management education, specifically the MBA, is in the 60% of master’s programs that do pay off, as return on investment is a key question for MBA applicants.

Earning an MBA allows graduates to pursue a wide range of high-paying jobs across a variety of industries. An MBA provides students with practical training across a wide variety of business management functions that allow them to pursue careers in executive roles.

One such role graduates with an MBA may land is chief executive officer, or CEO. In addition to leading a team, you’ll receive a generous paycheck and even stock options and company bonuses. The median salary for a CEO in 2020 was $185,950, as reported by U.S. News & World Report.

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Juris Doctor Degree (J.D.)

If you want to practice law, you’ll need to obtain a juris doctor degree. Students passionate about the legal system must attend law school to earn their J.D. degree. After receiving this degree, graduates must take and pass their state bar exam to legally practice law as a lawyer or attorney.

Getting a J.D., and passing the bar, is hard work but it comes with incredible rewards. In 2020, the median salary for attorneys was reported to be $126,930. There’s also plenty of job security. Columbia Law School reported that nearly 96% of their 2021 juris doctors were able to land permanent, full-time jobs that require passing the bar.

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Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)

Data in a 2021 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) cites that the United States may see an estimated shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians by 2034. This data includes shortfalls in primary and specialty care. 

The good news is individuals eager to earn their Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) may be able to cover this estimated shortage. Attending medical school and getting an M.D. offers a wide range of career opportunities to graduates including occupations like doctor, physician, surgeon, pediatrician and gynecologist.

Physicians and surgeons are among the highest-paid professions in the United States. It’s also an exciting time to be part of the future of health. Working towards an M.D. allows graduates to thrive in an industry where there are new and innovative digital health solutions, like telehealth, and continued breakthroughs in modern medicine.

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Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Getting a master of science in nursing (MSN) opens the doors to many fulfilling careers in the healthcare industry. An advanced degree in nursing allows graduates to provide care for patients alongside a dedicated, professional staff. They may explore a wide range of occupations including nurse practitioner, anesthetist or as a midwife. 

Similar to attending medical school, getting an MSN is expensive and may require taking out a student loan. However, nurses are among the many professions that are eligible for student loan forgiveness programs. Popular options that may forgive nursing debt include Public Service Loan Forgiveness, the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program and the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program.

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Master of Science in Dentistry (MSD)

Attending an accredited dental school for a master of science in dentistry (MSD) offers a wide variety of professions in which one may practice dentistry.

Graduates that fulfill licensing requirements in their jurisdiction may explore several types of dental careers. Some of these include oral surgeons and orthodontists, all of which earn a median salary that starts in the six figure range. Dentists are also eligible for a wide range of state and federal student loan forgiveness programs. Check in with the American Dental Education Association’s interactive chart of all eligible programs across the United States.

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Master of Computer Science (MCS)

As technology continues to evolve and companies require skilled workers with an understanding of the cloud and AI to work for their businesses, earning a master of computer science (MCS) is worth the investment for professionals. Analysts predict nearly 550,000 new computer science jobs will be created by 2028.

Having an MCS allows graduates to explore a wide variety of computer science occupations. Some of these include software and web development, UX design, mobile app development and roles where you may be an information security analyst.

Each job allows its talent to grow within the role and earn a strong median salary. In addition to acting as a gatekeeper to confidential information, those working as an information security analyst receive the honor of knowing they are in a profession voted #1 in 100 best jobs by U.S. News & World Report. Information security analysts also receive first place honors as the number one best STEM job and best technology job.

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