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Will leaving my job to pursue a master’s degree pay off?

I have a degree in IT and work in a computer solutions firm. My job is very demanding, and I often have to work overtime to meet deadlines. Consequently, I have had to push my plans to pursue a post graduate degree. I’m interested in short 1 year masters programs, but with my busy schedule, I have been unable to enroll in part-time studies. I’m thinking of quitting my job and registering full-time in a masters university. Is it prudent to leave my job and pursue a master’s degree?

Rodney Fox

in Higher Education

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Justin Parker on June 4, 2018

It is challenging to answer this question in a short and precise way. A lot of people would give you a firm and absolute no. Why do you quit your job for a post-graduate degree when you are learning and getting paid too? Well, this is still valid. Working in a technical field such as computer science, you gain a lot of valuable experience that you can leverage for a better position and pay later on.

Such a decision is weighty, almost the same as what a business person risks by investing in a new business idea. It can pay off or waste your money and valuable time (including losing your job). However, there is also the other end of the spectrum that holds equal weight.

Why do you want to pursue higher education? If your goal is to earn a better pay or land a better job, then don’t quit your job to pursue it. When you graduate and begin job seeking, you will soon realize that most employers go for experience rather than education. Plus, even if you land a job smoothly, you might not negotiate a much better pay than what you are getting currently.

Masters degrees need you to be aware of what your focus is in and have a good understanding of your field of interest. Have a passion that you want to specialize in and a goal that you believe further education will help you accomplish it. For example, if you're going to advance a specific skill in computer technology that your job doesn’t provide this opportunity for growth, you can pursue a course on it. Alternatively, if you wish to venture into teaching at the university level, you will need masters then a doctorate soon after.

If you weigh all these factors and still feel you want to go ahead, resign and pursue your chosen one-year master’s program. The best way to know if your selection will eventually pay off is to contact your university and ask to talk to the institution’s alumni. You can also search for the alumni department on the university’s website or visit their office in person.

Most universities with master’s programs have publicly verifiable records of their alumni. This information can help you estimate the success rate of graduates from such a program. Additionally, look at the ranking of the school as it relates to the course you are considering. 

Emily Alexander2 years ago

Maybe a few years ago, when technology wasn’t as developed as it is now, it was difficult for people who wanted to pursue their studies to be able to do it.

Nonetheless, we have the internet now and we can study at home or in the office. We can take short courses at renowned universities and even a complete online master’s degree. You can set your schedule to study when you have time. If you don’t have enough free time to study, even if you choose 1-year masters programs, it may take you to complete them 2 or 3 years.  

Cynthia Baker2 years ago

I agree, don’t just do a master’s degree for the sake of it. Additionally, don’t do it because other people are do it. Unlike, a bachelor’s degree, it’s not necessary for every individual. I would, however, like to add a little insight on using the alumni records for evaluation of a degree program.

Take this information with a pinch of salt. The reason is that many of the former students who report are more successful ones. You might get the incorrect impression of the success rate by looking at this information independently. Instead, check the ration/ percentage of those who have reported to the total number of graduates.

In most cases, these statistics are not able to give the whole story. For example, for a course such as entrepreneurship, the expected results may take many months or years to materialize. Starting a business involves much more than knowledge and expertise. 


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