Top 5 Reasons to Earn a Graduate Degree

Gonzaga campus

May 24, 2024
Julie Krallman, M.A. | Graduate Programs
Is a master’s degree worth the time, money and effort? We find ourselves getting asked this question quite a lot in higher education. With so many options to improve your skillset, it’s hard to know. The reality is it does depend on your goals. What we can tell you is a graduate degree like a master’s or doctorate can have untold benefits to your personal and professional growth.

Here are the top five reasons to earn your master’s.

1) Grow your Expertise

There are so many reasons to earn a graduate degree, first and foremost gaining new skills and expertise. Many of us know how to do the job we were hired to do, but as we better understand our work, we often find the need to develop new tools to do our jobs even better and take our skillset to the next level. Acquiring in-depth knowledge in a certain area can help you achieve that by challenging you to ask the vital questions, discern information and ultimately see the big picture. You may also become a subject matter expert at your organization, which can bring new opportunities to lead and have more influence on projects and decisions.

2) Competitive Edge

A graduate degree stands out on your resume, giving you a competitive advantage. It shows your current employer or a new organization your ability to learn new concepts and your commitment to your professional growth. Critical thinking is an in-demand skill in every industry and at Gonzaga critical thinking is a cornerstone of every master’s and doctoral degree we offer. Gaining the ability to evaluate an issue objectively and offer solutions can help you stand out in a large pool of applicants. Some organizations also require a master’s level degree like an MBA or Master’s in Organizational Leadership for promotion.

3) Career Change

A master’s degree can also prepare you for a career change, providing you with an entirely new skillset you can use to switch industries or positions, or even start your own business. Many of our online Master’s in Organizational Leadership students have made the switch to consulting or have formed their own businesses and our online Master’s in Communication and Leadership has prepared many students to teach at the college level.

4) Networking Opportunities

A graduate degree can expose you to a new and diverse learning community, where you can gain exposure to a variety of viewpoints. It also provides the opportunity to make strong connections with people in and outside of your industry. Many of our alumni have connected in class and/or on LinkedIn and continue to support each other for years to come. Faculty relationships are also a valuable part of earning a graduate degree. At Gonzaga, master’s and doctoral students receive faculty support throughout their programs and develop deep connections with their professors, often staying in touch for years after graduation.  Gonzaga also has a large and supportive alumni network and students can join Zags Connect, Gonzaga University's mentoring & networking platform which helps you build professional connections within the Gonzaga community.

5) Pay Increase

If you’re looking for a bump in salary, a graduate degree could be just the ticket. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS) Education Pays, 2022 "workers' earnings increase as educational attainment rises”, good news for those looking for higher paying jobs.  The U.S. economy is relatively strong and unemployment low as of this writing, however job security is never assured and while a graduate degree is not a guarantee of keeping a job, in the same article; BLS points out that the higher level of education a person has the less they face unemployment.


But let’s say increasing your income is not a primary goal, a master’s degree can offer a huge amount of personal growth and satisfaction. Many of our master’s students have relayed to us, that what they have learned in their coursework has had an impact on their personal lives as well, helping them become better colleagues, friends and in some cases even more thoughtful family members and spouses.

While deciding to earn a graduate degree at Gonzaga or anywhere is a big decision, your degree could be paying you back for years to come with new skills and expertise, career advancement or change, cultivating a new network, and even a better salary.