4 circumstances when two master’s degrees might make sense
By now, the reasons to get a master s degree have been well-documented.
Sometimes, a job may require it, or at the very least you d be a more favorable job applicant with a master s degree. Sometimes, a master s degree can help you change fields, make you more of an expert in your field or purely fulfill you intellectually.
But what about two master s degrees? Do any of these initial reasons sound compelling, or is the idea completely bankrupt?
Here are four circumstances when two master s degrees could make sense.
1. When you can earn both degrees simultaneously
There are a couple of ways to earn two master s degrees at the same time: dual degree and joint degree programs.
Julia Kent, director of global communications and best practices for the Council of Graduate Schools, told U.S. News Word Report that both degrees show up on your diploma when you earn a dual degree.
Dual degree programs are organized by the university and often involve program overlap to minimize cost and time. Joint degrees are usually interdisciplinary, sometimes combining two or more areas of study in two separate departments of the same campus or at two different schools.
2. To be an even more compelling job applicant
It s not often that you ll come across a job ad looking for someone with two master s degrees. In fact, you may never seen one. But if two master s degrees complement each other well, in a field that s interdisciplinary, then a second master s degree may make sense for you.
For example, let s say you re a teacher who wants to teach two subjects or wants to eventually land in a specialized administration position. Perhaps having a bachelor s in education, a master s in one subject, and a master s in another subject may make you an attractive job applicant to some potential employers.
Or consider an applicant for a tech job that may require a master s degree, like a systems analyst. Now imagine if the applicant had a MBA as well. While some teaching programs offer different options to specialize in teaching more than one subject, and some MBA programs offer a tech emphasis, for some people, the in-depth instruction they ll receive from working on two master s degrees could make sense. Check with your advisor to learn about all your options.
This is a common reason people get the first master s degree, but perhaps even after getting a bachelor s and a first master s degree, you may still want to change fields or expand in your current field down the road. Depending on how drastic of a change you are looking to make, you could get a new associate s or bachelor s degree or go for the second master s degree.
If you don t have a background in the field you d like to enter, you may have to take some undergraduate courses to get into the graduate program. Check with your school, as that s not always the case.
4. For fun or intellectual fulfillment
If you flat out love to learn, and free courses offered through sites like Coursera aren t doing it for you, you may want to get a second master s degree. But consider these two factors.
For most, the cost is a biggie. While the cost of grad school wildly varies between programs and schools, it s probably not cheap (unless you land scholarships or grants, of course). Let s look at two examples. Tuition and fees for 12 in-state graduate credits at Kansas State University, as of 2013-14, cost $4,578.90. But master s degree students at Columbia University can expect to pay at least $20,000 a semester, depending on their program and financial aid situation.
Then there s the fact that you may not get into the program you want. Depending on the program, intellectual fulfillment as a reason for going may not be compelling enough to admissions offices, especially if it s a very career-focused program. If you don t get in, you can always find other ways to learn, like auditing classes or reading a bunch of books independently (which I understand may not be as fun.)
If you can justify the costs for the sake of learning, get a dual or joint degree, improve your chances of landing a job, or ensure a field change, then a second master s degree could be a good option. If not, you can always get a different kind of degree (such as an undergraduate degree. certificate, or Ph.D.) or find other ways to achieve your goals.
Jon Fortenbury is an Austin-based freelance writer. He s been published by the likes of the Huffington Post and The Atlantic and is a featured contributor to Schools.com. Follow him on Twitter .
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