Should I Get My Masters Degree??

Updated on July 05, 2013
L.M. asks from Citrus Heights, CA
17 answers

I am really struggling with this decision. I have two boys, age 4 & 7, and I am married. Hubby supports the idea, but I worry about how much time I am going to miss with my family. I am also not certain that it will "payoff". I work for the State of Ca in a supervisor position. I think that getting my masters (in public administration/leadership) would give me a leg up for promotions, but it isn't necessarily required for promotions, just a real bonus.
Program is online, and cost is $21,000. I am worried about that too.... We moved about 7 months ago and used most of our savings to buy our new house, so our nest egg is low. Still, looking long term, it would be an investment in a higher earning potential for years (I'm 35 so have a long time until retirement.
HELP!! I am so on the fence and would really appreciate your thoughts.
Thank you!

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answers from New London on

If it were me, I would not spend an additional twenty thousand dollars right away.
I would want to build up a savings acct for the next 2 or 3 years...

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answers from Honolulu on

You have to KNOW if or not, that a master's WILL get you promoted to a Supervisor.
Not just guess at it.
Did you research and look up, those positions that you covet?
What are the requirements???
And even if you have a Masters, does it guarantee... that you WILL be a Supervisor????
No it doesn't.
In Government, it is also by seniority and who you know.... And/or by getting appointed to those positions. It is not only via a degree, that you get THAT position. And it also depends on who the current administration is or not or their political machine. Especially for high level jobs. It is government.

Not all master's degrees, GUARANTEE you that job.

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answers from Norfolk on

I'm never comfortable without a nest egg savings cushion.
We've had things like having a water heater or washer or dishwasher die and it was good to be able to deal with it without going into debt.
It would not hurt to wait a few years to build up your reserves a bit.

Google "is a masters degree in public administration worth it" and read the articles.
What I've found out about it so far is - it's not looking good.
You've got 2 kids and you'll be saving up for their college funds.
Really research the Return on Investment for this degree.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think you need to be careful with these expensive online schools, they aren't always accredited or even respected in the professional community. The sales pitches are often aggressive but you need to really do your homework before signing up.
What about Sacramento State? I worked on my degree (Cal State Hayward) when my kids were little, taking classes in the evenings and/or while they were at preschool/elementary school. It took a while but I felt like I was setting a great example. Seeing mommy go to class, study and do homework was a valuable and meaningful lesson IMO.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

The company I worked for paid for my master degree (MBA). Since it was free there was no down side to getting it. Now if I had to pay $21,000 out of my pocket I would need to know for a fact it would payoff and payoff in the short term. Having a bacholors degree certainly opens doors and is a requirement. Additionally, for some positions I know company's want someone with a degree from an Ivy League school. However, if you are planning on staying at your current company and pursuing a business related degree then I don't think you would get promoted or get a bigger raise simply because of a piece of paper. My opinion is you are either a leader or not. Of course you can always improve your skills but knowing how to be a leader is not the same thing as being a leader. Your manager will know where you fall regardless of what your résumé states. JMO though. I have been out of the work force for 10+ years.

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answers from Dallas on

If I had the opportunity and actually had the money, I would do it. Do you REALLY have the money? I would make sure of that, first.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Be very careful with online schools.

have you discussed this with your boss? I'd ask and see if a master's will help with getting promoted. You may get ahead faster if you put all that extra time into your actual job. This is how a lot of people get that promotion.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I did have a friend that went back to school to get a nursing degree with a 9 year old and a 3 year old but her husband did not work, nor did she. So if you currently work full time and have two small kids and want to pursue a masters degree (that usually takes 2 years going full-time) I'd say you are wise to wonder if you will ever see your family. Perhaps you could talk to HR or look up job requirements for state jobs that you might be interested in pursuing. Unfortunately, while it seems as if you should have more time as your kids get older and they enter school, their social life expands and you will be just as busy but in a different way. I would think that an MBA might be more versatile than an MPA. And consider that an online program may or may not be as well received as a program from a bricks and mortar school and, of course, the school might matter. A masters from University of Phoenix may not be as valuable as one from Sac State. Good-luck.

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answers from St. Louis on

The problem with masters programs that aren't required is they aren't required. If it isn't required chances are it won't be compensated for.

Like I hold a masters in accounting. Technically a masters is not required to sit the CPA, you just need 15 hours of specific accounting courses. Well if you are going to take 15 hours you may as well take the other 15 and get the masters. Plus most universities integrate the masters into the undergrad program.

Not sure if what I am saying makes sense but you can get a masters for the same cost as your undergrad. That is what universities do when the masters doesn't yield you an additional wage.

So is it really worth the money to have a degree that does not increase your marketability?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

This is just me and take it with a grain of salt because I started a graduate degree when my oldest was 2 years old and my youngest wasn't even born yet: If I had it to do over again I would have waited until my kids were much older (either that or do it before they were born), especially when it's not so clear cut that it will give you an advantage in your field.

Those early years with your children are so incredibly precious. I would be hard-pressed to give them up.

What if you wait until your youngest is 16? That puts you at 51, with another 14-15 years of working at least (if you want to or need to). And by then you will have saved the $$ to go (hopefully) or you will re-prioritize and spend the $$ on your kids' college tuitions.

I do think it makes sense to do it in certain situations. But I would not spend the time or the money unless I was pretty darn sure it was going to pay off in a bigger way for my family. Even then you have to factor in the risk of missing out on those years with your sons when they still want you around.

Good luck with your decision, whichever way you go. Your question struck a chord with me because I have two sons 3 years apart in age, too. They are 19 and 16 now. <3 You won't believe how fast it will go.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

Have you ever taken a class online? It's usually a lot of work! True you don't have to go to class, but you have to teach yourself everything. Rather than listen to a professor explain things, you are reading a textbook and/or the prof's notes. You can email the prof with questions, but in reality, online classes are for the truly independent learner.

We're you planning to work full time? I earned my master's degree going to school full time, and it was a two year program. Part time is generally a five year program, as most programs require 36 credit hours.

If you are planning to not work and go to school full time, then I would recommend looking into a Graduate Assistantship. Most will include a tuition waver and a monthly stipend. Mine also included health insurance.

Just some things to think about.

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answers from New York on

Do you want the degree JUST to advance or do you want the degree because you are genuinely interested in advancing your knowledge of the subject matter?

Your answer may lie in answering that question.

Personally, I would never rely on a degree to advance me, but if I were interested in the subject matter and had the money and opportunity than absolutely.

And if you advance, even better :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Is it $21k slowly so you,can stretch the time and cost over say 5 years? Then I could see. But with just a leg up and no guarantee and your nest egg is low, if most of the $21k is soon, I'd wait. You're 35 so have time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I did half of my degree online, through my local university. Some of the classes were an absolute steal, some were harder. Doing the rest of my degree in school is way harder! It's doable, but yes you have to work out why you want to do it, if it is not going to make you back the $21000 (plus hidden costs of supplies etc). Is it for the prestige of having a masters? Or will the extra skills you will earn help you $21000 worth in you job? You will miss time with your family, but you will work that out, kids are flexible.
My father always told me "Buy the best musical instruments you can afford, and education in never wasted"



answers from Kansas City on

If I had the opportunity to get my masters, I would.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I think that if you plan it out where you can perhaps get a stipend for assistant teaching or some other type of work to offset the cost I would do it in a heart beat. How many hours is your program going to be? Can't you go to school during the day when the kiddo's are in school starting in the fall when the little one could go to pre-K? I think that would be the best of all worlds. Working and going to school while the kids are at school and taking off the days they are out if they coincide with your days out for holidays.

Also if you even need to cut down your hours due to some disability or other reason you can teach at a college level and make a very good living once you get tenure. You can teach with full benefits at a Jr. College level with a Masters in anything. That income could pay for your education cost in one year plus more income.

My friend that got her masters in nursing taught at a Jr. College level in the mid 90's and her tenured income was the mid 30 thousand per year. It's nearly 20 years later so I imagine that income would be more by now so if your master's degree only cost just over $20K then teaching would more than pay for your education costs.


answers from Washington DC on

Do it! They say a masters isn't required, but honestly, if you have it, you'll advance faster.

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