How Much Is A Master’s Degree Worth

Those of you seeking the master degree average salary and how many years is a masters degree need not look further as the article below gives you all the information you require and more. This article shows that getting a master degree can be higher paying than just having a bachelor’s degree.

In some cases, a master’s degree is a requirement for employment, or it can mean a promotion at a current place of employment. It can also add influence to a resume with a master’s degree from a prestigious institution if not already there at the bachelor’s degree level, so the investment pays off in the long run.

How Much Is A Master’s Degree Worth

How Much Does Graduate School Cost?

Is a Masters Degree Worth It

According to FinAid.org, the average cost of master’s degree for students is between $30,000 and $120,000. The cost varies depending on the university and the master’s program itself.

The cost varies by program as well. The average cost of an MBA, for example, is $40,000. At most universities, this is what master’s degree graduates will pay. Some institutions have programs for less, and MBA programs at Harvard or Stanford could cost in excess of $120,000.

In-State, Out-of-State, Online, or On-Campus

How much a master’s degree will cost is dependent on where you will take the courses. If you are looking at a public university, especially if paying in-state tuition, the cost will be less than paying out-of-state tuition, going to a private university, or both.

For example, the cost of full-time graduate tuition, at nine or more credit hours, per year at the University of Michigan for engineering students is $10,957 while out of state students will pay $20,616 per year, and distance learning students will pay $1,244 for first hour of courses in-state and $1,372 per first hour for out of state students with a slight decrease in cost for every hour after that.

Is a Masters Degree Worth It?

If you’re already working or about to finish your undergrad, you may be wondering, “Is a masters degree worth it?” To help you answer that question, we’re comparing the financial cost, the investment in time, and your future job prospects.

How Much Does a Master’s Degree Cost?

How Much Does a Master's Degree Cost?

The cost of a master’s degree can be anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000. The most common industry estimates are $30,000- 40,000.

Why is there such a big range when it comes to the price of graduate school? Simply put, there are many different factors that can influence tuition, so you might have an entirely different experience from your classmates even if you’re all seeking the same degree.

The biggest influence on your budget is your choice of schools.

Top-rated universities like Harvard and Stanford are going to be more expensive than their peers. For comparison’s sake, an MBA at Harvard costs around $73,440 while an MBA at the University of Massachusetts Amherst costs $35,100. They’re in the same state, and they offer students the same degree, but their tuition is quite different.

Speaking of tuition, there are several things that can impact your cost per credit. One of them is residency: Out-of-state students might pay twice as much as in-state. Another potential factor is your course load. Some schools charge flat fees for credits based on whether you’re a full-time or part-time student.

How quickly can you earn your degree? That will affect your budget. If you’re sailing through a dual bachelor’s/master’s program in five years, you’ll pay less than a student who is in school for six or seven years.

There are other fees to consider as well. For example, if you’re seeking a medical or science-related degree, there might be lab costs. If you’re getting a master’s degree in education, you might have to pay for special licensing exams before you’re actually qualified to work in your state.

The last expense to think about is whether you plan on earning your degree online or in person.

Online degree programs tend to be cheaper than classroom-based ones, but they don’t always offer the same experiences. They also require you to be more self-motivated since you set your own schedule.

Is a Masters Degree Worth It in Terms of Time?

master's degree student studying in university library

It can take anywhere from 1-3 years to earn a master’s degree. The traditional path takes around two years, but various factors can squeeze it into one year or stretch it into three years.

Programs have come a long way. There used to be a lot more rigidity in terms of when and where you earned your credits, but today, you’ll have plenty of options for fitting a master’s degree into your schedule:

  • Dual degree programs allow you to complete your bachelor’s and master’s at the same time.
  • Accelerated programs let you cram your credits into a single calendar year.
  • Traditional programs will spread your credits over several semesters on a two or three-year schedule.
  • Part-time or online programs will let you take classes at your leisure.

A master’s program usually requires between 30 and 60 credits, so you can estimate your own schedule by determining how many credits you’ll need and how many you can comfortably earn in a semester.

For example, a master’s in school administration at the California University of Pennsylvania only requires 30 credits. You could fit those into two fully-loaded, 15-credit semesters, or you could try a more sedate schedule with two 12-credit semesters and a summer semester at the end.

If you want to obtain a master’s in library and information science at the University of Washington, their online program requires 64 quarter credits, so its standard track is six semesters spread over three years. The program is aimed more at part-time students rather than ones who want to speed through a degree program.

If you’re eager to get your degree as quickly as possible, New York University offers several dual degree programs where you can work on your bachelor’s and master’s at the same time.

You can finish the entire program in five years instead of six or seven. It works by allowing you to complete a certain number of graduate credits even as an undergraduate.

The bottom line: Don’t let your schedule be a prohibitive factor in going back to school and getting your master’s degree.

You’ll have plenty of options for making it work, and it’s worth the extra 1-3 years of schooling in exchange for a lifetime of increased earning potential.

master degree average salary

As of Oct 21, 2021, the average annual pay for the Masters Degree jobs category in the United States is $70,689 a year.

Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $33.99 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,359/week or $5,891/month.

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $145,000 and as low as $24,000, the majority of salaries within the Masters Degree jobs category currently range between $48,000 (25th percentile) to $78,500 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $120,000 annually across the United States. The average pay range for a Masters Degree job varies greatly (by as much as $30,500), which suggests there may be many opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on skill level, location and years of experience.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for master’s degree holders is $1,545. This is higher than both bachelor’s degree holders ($1,305) and associate degree holders ($938).

Another thing worth considering is unemployment rate. People with master’s degrees have a 4.1% unemployment rate compared to those with bachelor’s degrees (5.5%) and associate degrees (7.1%).

If you’re wondering which jobs are the most lucrative for people who hold a master’s degree, here are a few of the highest-paying careers and their annual median salaries:

CareersAnnual Median Salary
Nurse Anesthetist$183,580
Dentist$158,940
IT Manager$151,150
Architectural and Engineering Manager$149,530
Marketing Manager$142,170
Political Scientist$125,350
Nurse Practitioner$111,680
Actuary$111,030
Mathematician$110,860
Economist$108,350
General and Operations Manager$103,650
Database Administrator$98,860
Management Analyst$87,660
Occupational Therapist$86,280
Criminologist$86,110
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist$76,340
Emergency Management Director$76,250
Dietitian or Nutritionist$63,090
School and Career Counselor$58,120
Social Worker$51,760

Is It Easier to Get a Job with a Master’s Degree?

master's degree graduate having an interview in an office

Having a master’s degree is very good for your job prospects. In fact, there are some jobs that outright require them.

If you’re looking for work as a statistician, political scientist, biomedical engineer, or speech-language pathologist, a master’s degree is expected. It would be very difficult to get a callback without having a master’s degree on your resume.

There are also careers where a master’s degree can open more doors for you. For example, you can become a Registered Nurse (RN) with a bachelor’s degree, but you’ll need a master’s degree to move up the ladder to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).

You can get an entry-level economics job with a bachelor’s, but if you want to become a full-fledged economist with the government job, you’ll need a master’s.

Business fields are another area where a master’s degree can really make a difference. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a common requirement for leadership positions in business, finance, marketing, and human resources.

There are also Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS) business degrees that you can obtain for jobs in healthcare or public policy.

Long story short, you should do your research about master’s degrees in your particular field. Are they required? Will they give you a career boost? Which ones will be the best match for your specific line of work?

Does a Master’s Degree Make You More Money?

highest-paying careers and their annual salaries chart

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for master’s degree holders is $1,401. This is higher than both bachelor’s degree holders ($1,173) and associate degree holders ($836).

Another thing worth considering is unemployment rate. People with master’s degrees have a 2.2% unemployment rate compared to those with bachelor’s degrees (2.5%) and associate degrees (3.5%).

If you’re wondering which jobs are the most lucrative for people who hold a master’s degree, here are a few of the highest-paying careers and their annual salaries:

  • Dentist ($158,120)
  • Nurse Anesthetist ($157,140 per year)
  • IT Manager ($139,200)
  • Architectural and Engineering Manager ($137,00)
  • Marketing Manager ($129,380)
  • Mathematician ($111,110)
  • Actuary ($101,560)
  • Business Operations Manager ($100,410)
  • Economist ($99,180)
  • Nurse Practitioner ($98,190)
  • Database Administrator ($96,631)
  • Occupation Therapist ($80,150)
  • Criminologist ($72,000)
  • Private Healthcare Consultant ($65,000)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Officer ($61,300)
  • Disaster and Emergency Specialists ($54,000)
  • School Counselor ($53,000)
  • Public Policy Analyst ($53,000)
  • Dietician ($44,900)
  • Social Worker ($35,510)


Before you make any decisions, keep in mind that your job title isn’t the only thing that determines your salary. People in cities tend to make more money than people in rural areas, and industry norms can play a role in how much your job is worth, too.

Demand is always important. Career outlooks can rise and fall depending on how many graduates are flooding the market in that particular year.

You should definitely consider salary when you’re thinking about master’s degree programs, but don’t get too focused on base pay.

how many years is a masters degree?

master's degree graduates filling out job application forms

On average, a master’s degree takes 1.5 to 2 years for full-time students to complete. There are many factors, however, that may increase or decrease the exact length of time from enrollment to graduation. For instance, students who take on a heavy course load may finish some master’s degree programs in as little as seven months, while part-time students in programs with many credit hours can take as long as seven years to earn their master’s degrees.

Here are some factors you should consider when determining how long it will take you to earn your master’s degree.

Accreditation for Master’s Degrees

logos of six regional accreditation boards

Accreditation is when a school or degree program has been officially recognized as meeting certain standards. It’s important for a number of reasons:

  • It shows employers that you attended a good school and not a shady “degree mill” that sells credentials for profit.
  • It can impact financial aid. Certain loans and grants, including federal ones, are only awarded to students in accredited universities.
  • It ensures a certain level of educational quality. A lot depends on the school, of course, but generally speaking, you can expect a better education from an accredited degree program as opposed to a random, untested one that you found online somewhere.

How do you know if your college is accredited? Check with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). They oversee more than 60 accrediting programs in the U.S., including national, regional and faith-based ones. There’s a searchable database on their website that can pull up a school’s accreditation data in no time flat.

Financial Aid for Earning Your Master’s Degree

screenshot of FAFSA website

You can ease some of the financial burden of a master’s degree when you apply for financial aid.

You’ve probably heard of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be applied to both graduate and undergraduate studies. While you won’t qualify for a Pell Grant as a master’s student, you can still seek a Stafford loan or Graduate PLUS loan.

You can also try for scholarships, fellowships, work-study programs and tuition reimbursement programs. If you’re already employed, your company might be willing to pay for your master’s degree as long as you’re learning something relevant to your work.

It’s worth the effort of seeking out whatever financial aid is available to you. Not only will it lower your expenses while you’re in school, but it will also increase your educational ROI. If you save money now, your total gains will be greater once you’re out of school and earning a salary in the workforce.

Is It Worth Getting a Master’s Degree?

master's degree graduates receiving their diploma

As with any decision, there are both pros and cons to earning a master’s degree. When you look at the whole picture, however, the benefits definitely outweigh the risks and the expenses.

You’ll have more career opportunities with a master’s degree. You’ll earn more money on average than people from a lower educational bracket. Plus, it isn’t as expensive as you might think, especially with the help of financial aid, and you can choose from a variety of degree programs that are suited to your particular budget, schedule, and lifestyle.

Getting a master’s degree is a worthwhile pursuit. It isn’t a magical guarantee for a high-paying job, but it’s a step in the right direction, and the journey can bring a lot of personal and professional fulfillment along the way.

is a masters degree worth it engineering?

While you may not necessarily need a master’s degree to get a job in engineering, there are a lot of good reasons why earning this credential might be worth it. There are the obvious salary benefits, but it isn’t just a higher salary that makes an engineering master’s a good job option. You’ll qualify for more jobs, have greater job security and put yourself in the best position to stay up-to-date on your skills.

Of course, your salary as an engineer will depend somewhat on your specific field.

For Example, the median salary for chemical engineers with a bachelor’s degree is about $72,000, while it’s about $104,000 for electrical and computer engineers with the same credential. A master’s degree, however, will net you an average of $19,000 more a year — and you’d have trouble fitting that in your change jar, especially since it can add up to a cool half-million by the time you reach retirement.

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