A master’s degree requires sizeable time, effort, and financial commitment. But what happens after a master’s? For most people, a master’s degree is where they will end their formal education. The vast majority will go on to seek employment or advance in their careers, while some will take up courses for certification or licensing if they add value to their degree or are mandated by law. A few would also become entrepreneurs and start their own ventures.  

After completing a master’s degree program, individuals have a few options to choose from. Here are a few choices you can think about: 

Frequently Asked Questions

Continue Your Studies with Another Master’s

If you are interested in becoming an expert in one area but feel you can increase your scope in it, complementing your recently earned master’s degree with another may be an excellent choice. For example, if you already have a master’s in religious studies, you could enroll in a master’s in theology to give you a broader understanding of your main subject. If you have a master’s in kinesiology and exercise science, you can take up a master’s in coaching. 

Having two master’s degrees can often be better than one. The additional qualification will undoubtedly lead to higher salaries and better career prospects. In 2021, graduates with a bachelor’s degree earned $1,334 per week, while those with a master’s degree earned $1,574 per week[1]. There has been little research into the impact of two master’s degrees on earnings, but depending on which degree you use to be the primary driver of your career, backed up by your other degree, you can expect a healthy pay increase. 

When considering two master’s degrees, remember to keep the costs in check. Although online programs are often cheaper than traditional in-person ones, the overall cost of your education could run into tens of thousands of dollars. You can consider free master’s programs some universities offer or a fast program from which you can graduate quickly. Pursuing a 6-month master’s and easy programs can save you money.  

Enter the Workforce

The most common and possibly most conservative course of action for you is to start looking for a job immediately after graduation. By doing so, you can start your professional career and earn money right away, paying off any student loans you may have. Reputable universities typically offer excellent job placement services that can connect you with recruiters. Entry-level to highly specialized positions are advertised on online job boards, and you can research top businesses in your industry to find something that suits your needs. Alternatively, you can consider entrepreneurship and starting your own business, in which case you must understand whether you have what it takes — man, machine, and money — to make it work. 

Pursue a Doctoral Degree

A master’s degree may not be the end of their educational journey for some people. You might want to stand out even more from the sea of recent graduates applying for jobs, or you might have chosen a profession where a Ph.D. is the minimum requirement to be considered. For instance, psychologists are usually required to hold a Ph.D. to qualify for licensure. In this case, for those who wish to continue with their studies, the next stage after obtaining a master’s degree is to pursue a doctoral degree, typically a Ph.D., which requires working at an institution while also conducting independent research. It is the highest level of education that a person can receive.  

If you are interested in conducting research or teaching at the college level, a Ph.D. or Ed.D is a great option. While the Ph.D. is ideal for pursuing a career in academia, the Doctor of Education (EdD) is a professional degree designed for practitioners interested in educational leadership. The Ph.D. entitles one to employment security and the possibility of a higher salary as a tenured professor at a college or university. The sense of accomplishment, the perception of being an authority in one’s field, and the more opportunities for intellectual stimulation are all undoubtedly personal benefits of earning a doctorate. Ph.D. holders also earn median weekly pay of $1,909 compared to the $1,574 that master’s degree holders make[1]

The downside to obtaining a doctoral degree is its cost. Doctoral programs are even more expensive than master’s programs. However, many universities offer fully funded Ph.D. programs that often cover your tuition fees, provide you with a stipend, and pay for your health insurance. Another option to offset the financial burden is to combine working part-time or doing an internship while continuing your studies part-time to gain relevant experience. 

Obtain Certifications and Other Qualifications

Professional certifications can speed up career advancement, particularly in fields that require a high level of specialization, like accounting, human resources, or information technology. Although not all certifications are equally valued, they assure professional competence in conjunction with a professional degree or work experience. For example, if you have completed your master’s in accounting, obtaining the CPA or CMA certification and license would make immense sense. If your degree requires you to be certified to be eligible for licensure to practice or work, it is the natural and logical step to take after graduation. Professional or board certifications make you eligible for specialized and niche jobs that automatically lead to better pay.  

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

How Do You Choose Which Path to Take?

The Bottom Line

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