To Get an Advanced Degree or Not?

That is the Question.

You made it through the economic meltdown of 2008 and have been in your job for at least 3 – 5 years. If you are truly a member of the millennial generation, you are getting antsy again and looking to make the next move. If you are like me then you are looking for some semblance of security in making that move. Unless you received a scholarship, have a trust fund, or did something strange for some change, you are probably part of the two-thirds of American students that graduated from undergraduate college with student loan debt.

There in lies our conundrum. We want to take steps to advance our careers, but the thought of taking on more student loan debt is a nauseating one. What are your options?

I present to you, the graduate certificate. A graduate certificate is like a “Masters degree-lite.” At some universities, it is a combination of the electives in a concentration preceded by one or two core courses. At other institutions, it is a combination of the concentration courses from a given masters program only. The graduate certificate option is much shorter and cheaper one than a masters degree program. You are still able to get the depth of knowledge which may add some security to your job search, without going deeper into debt.

Advantages of a Graduate Certificate 

1. Very specific in the types of classes you will be taking within a program.
2. Adds value to the “Relevant Coursework” portion of your resume.
3. Shorter time span.
4. Lower cost.
5. Access to the alumni network.
6. If offered, most coursework transfers into a masters program within the same school/department.

Disadvantages of a Graduate Certificate

1. Most graduate certificates do not have flexibility of substitutions, transfer credits, and/or electives.
2. Depending on the role you are applying for, a full fledged Masters degree may still be needed.

3. Support services may be limited based on the school.

It is best to be an educated consumer when it comes to furthering your education. If your career change does not require a masters degree, a graduate certificate is a great option. If anything, it is the option that may get you in the door until the new company agrees to pay for your education.

Garvin Reid

Garvin Reid is an Assistant Director at the NYU School of Professional Studies Wasserman Center for Career Development. He also does independent career coaching workshops as well as one on one sessions. In addition to career development work, Garvin is also the co-founder of G.Reid New York which is a dapper wear clothing line specializing in bow ties and pocket squares. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @ReidTweenDaLine

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