Five Graduate Programs That Don’t Pay Back
Five Graduate Programs That Don’t Pay Back, An advanced degree can boost your earning power by more than 40% in certain fields. In today’s tough job market, many recent college graduates are enrolling in graduate programs to enhance their credentials and gain an edge with hiring managers. In some cases, the tactic may lead to lucrative job opportunities. A recent report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that a graduate degree can boost an individual’s earning power by more than 40 percent in some fields — but the true value can vary wildly from industry to industry.
In disciplines such as medicine, for instance, an advanced degree can provide a 190 percent salary increase over a pre-med-focused bachelor’s degree, according to the Georgetown study. For other programs, the return on investment isn’t as certain: In some cases, available job opportunities are scarce or low-paying, or employers may value relevant work experience more than another diploma.
Particularly if you’re planning to take out loans to attend graduate school, it pays to know what your realistic job prospects are, says Liz Pulliam Weston, a personal finance author and columnist for MSN Money. “A lot of schools will take your money and get you trained for jobs that don’t exist,” she cautions. “Take a buyer-beware attitude.”
Students can obtain Master of Fine Arts, or MFA, degrees in disciplines including studio arts, creative writing, the performing arts and art criticism. Tuition costs vary, but at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, for instance, students can expect to pay more than $22,000 per term, plus the cost of housing, course books and other expenses.
That investment isn’t likely to pay off: The Georgetown study saw just a 3 percent boost in income potential for studio arts MFA graduates.
Kristen Harris, owner of Portfolio Creative, a staffing agency in Columbus, Ohio, says her recruiting clients always favor candidates with relevant experience and work samples over those with graduate arts degrees. “It’s hard to get that first work opportunity if you don’t have that education and training, but after that, it’s your portfolio and experience that speaks louder than your degree.”