Calculating Your Return on a Master’s Degree

When you are considering whether or not to enrol on a master's degree course, one of the most important factors you will have to consider is whether or not it is a financially viable option. If you are going to invest a large chunk of your finances into your education you need to be sure that you will be able to recoup the costs over time, otherwise the qualification may become more of a burden than an asset.

Doing The Math

Calculating the potential return on your master’s degree can be a simple process, but it will require a little research to get some solid figures that you can go off. There are two basic steps; firstly, estimate the cost of the course, including tuition fees , loan interest payments, loss of wages due to study, and living costs etc during this time; and secondly, figure out an estimate of what salary you are likely to be receiving once you gain your master's degree. Most course enrolment information sites will give estimates for starting salaries for people with the qualification.

If you crunch the numbers and find out that the cost of the course and the potential earnings after you graduate are do not work out in your favour, it is time to take a look to see if additional funding is available to make it more feasible. If you are currently earning £50,000 per year, and your expected earnings after you gain your master's degree are upwards of £70,000 then it is justifiable to spend out on tuition costs. However, if you are earning £50,000 per year, are planning to spend £20,000 - £40,000 on a postgraduate master's degree, and then the starting salary in your chosen profession is going to remain around a consistent £50,000, the numbers simply don’t add up.

If you can make the numbers make sense for you, a master’s degree is a fantastic qualification to gain and the learning process will really help you to develop your skills and knowledge. If the numbers don’t quite work for you, it might be time to have a serious think about which career path you wish to take and whether there is any other help available to you. Certain postgraduate courses almost guarantee you the availability of highly paid jobs, and in these instances, the only issues students are faced with is finding the funding at the time they require it, not whether or not it will pay for itself in the long run.

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