Depending on the discipline and occupation, a master’s degree may suffice or require a doctoral degree. For example, professors, psychologists, physicists, and biologists are considered qualified when they have a Ph.D. In certain states, a Ph.D. is required to qualify for licensure. But for most professions, such as business administration, human resources, and engineering, a master’s degree is usually adequate.
In general, master’s graduates can expect professional careers in a wide spectrum of work settings across industries and sectors based on their specialization and type of degree. Those with Ph.D. degrees commonly find careers in top-level management or top research and scientific posts and universities as senior faculty members.
When one compares average salaries, a study by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce finds (on page 3) that “there is strong evidence that advanced education levels continue to be associated with higher salaries”. But one should note that salaries ultimately depend on a person’s qualifications, skills, certifications, licensure, experience, exposure, expertise, sector, location, and more. According to The College Payoff, which offers a comprehensive overview of the trends, challenges, and vulnerabilities existing in the current U.S. graduate education system, the expected median lifetime earnings of individuals at different educational levels are:
- Without a High School Diploma: $973,000
- With a High School Diploma: $1,304,000
- With a Bachelor’s Degree: $2,268,000
- With a Master’s Degree: $2,671,000
- With a Doctoral Degree: $3,252,000