A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at AIU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.
Whether you have already earned your bachelor’s degree and are in the workforce or are nearing the completion of your undergraduate program and considering your next steps, you may have asked yourself, should I pursue a master’s degree?
Maybe the answer is an easy “yes” or “no.” But for many people, the answer might be less clear.
Regardless, the popularity of master’s degree programs has been increasing for some time. In 2000, there were 10.4 million adults aged 25 and older in the United States whose highest degree earned was a master’s. By 2018, that number had risen to 21 million.1 Data reported by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates steady growth in master’s degrees conferred: 879,000 in 2018–19; 898,000 in 2019–20; 915,000 in 2020–21; and 930,000 in 2021–22.2
But why? What are some big questions you should be asking to decide whether graduate school is the right path for you?
Master’s Degree Requirements
It’s important to understand a school’s master’s degree program requirements and assess their potential impact on your life before applying. If you’re working and plan to keep your job, an on-campus program might be inconvenient or just plain impossible to fit into your life. Online master’s programs could offer more flexibility and convenience than on-campus programs, but even some online programs may be more flexible than others. For example, some might require you to sign in and view lectures in real time, while others allow you to view lectures according to your own schedule. At AIU, our master’s programs are fully online and on your own schedule, giving you freedom to balance your academic responsibilities against your personal and professional ones—even if that means watching lectures at night before bed.
You should also understand different master’s degree requirements for admission on a school-by-school basis. Some graduate schools may require applicants to submit standardized test scores, an application fee and an essay (AIU does not require any of these). Minimum undergraduate GPA requirements can also differ. Some master’s programs may require you to take additional courses to satisfy certain prerequisites if you did not major in the same field as an undergraduate student. Possessing a bachelor’s degree is possibly one of the only requirements that doesn’t vary by institution—every graduate school you apply to should require that you have one. Our Admissions FAQs page is a helpful resource for questions about the AIU applications process and other admissions-related topics.
Master’s Degree Programs Offered at AIU
The master’s degree programs offered at American InterContinental University are designed to provide working adults with the flexibility needed to keep living their lives while pursuing their academic goals. The online format makes it possible to study when it fits your schedule best—whether that’s at night, on the weekends, during your lunch hour, whenever. We offer master’s programs in the following areas of study:
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Master of Education (M.Ed.)
- Master of Healthcare Management (MSHCM)
- Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT)
Salary Increase with a Master’s Degree
One of the many reasons people choose to pursue higher education is to hopefully obtain a higher salary. So what is the average salary with a master’s degree?
The data seems to support the theory that the more education you have, the more you are likely to earn. In 2021, median usual weekly earnings for someone with a master’s degree were $1,574 compared to $1,334 for someone with a bachelor’s and $963 for someone with an associate.3
Ultimately it will be up to you to research the median earnings or average salary with a master’s degree for your particular field in the geographic area you expect to work. (For example, MBA degree holders work in many fields, and the average MBA salary in the financial sector might look different from the average MBA salary in the non-profit sector). Once you know this, you can estimate the return on investment of pursuing a master’s degree program and decide whether the returns justify the tuition, fees and time commitment for you.
Financial Aid for Master’s Degree Programs4
How to pay for grad school can be a stressful topic, but it doesn’t have to be. Financial aid for master’s degree programs may be available through various sources. You may be able to apply for institutional scholarships and grants to help pay for your master’s degree, and student loans are available to eligible students through federal, state and private loan programs. Filling out the FAFSA should be one of the first steps you take in the financial aid process. The AIU Financial Aid Process page can help provide you with useful information about the graduate financial aid process, and our tuition and graduation date calculator can help you estimate the out-of-pocket costs of a master’s degree program at AIU.
Is a Master’s Degree Right for You?
“How much does a master’s degree cost?” is a question that you’ll need to answer both literally (tuition and fees) and figuratively (time commitment, stress, impact on personal obligations) if you’re thinking about going to grad school.
You might also want to consider the cost of not pursuing a master’s degree—say, if a master’s is required to break into your chosen field, the price of not going to grad school might mean that you never achieve your academic goals. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides an Occupation Finder tool that can help you see the entry-level education requirements, median pay and more for hundreds of occupations.)
There’s no official formula for determining what your next steps should be. But an honest assessment of your academic goals, personal obligations and financial aid options could go a long way in helping you decide whether a master’s is right for you.
1 U.S. Census Bureau, “Number of People with Master’s and Doctoral Degrees Doubles Since 2000,” Feb. 21, 2019, https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/02/number-of-people-with-masters-and-phd-degrees-double-since-2000.html.
2 NCES, “Table 310. Degrees conferred by degree-granting institutions, by level of degree and sex of student: Selected years, 1869-70 through 2021-22,” https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_310.asp (visited 7/5/2023). Numbers for years provided are projected.
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Education Pays, “Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment, 2020,” https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm (visited 7/5/2023).
4 Financial aid is available for those who qualify.
American InterContinental University cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. REQ1933266 7/2023
Classes Start October 25, 2023