Top 5 reasons to get a business master’s degree

There are two kinds of business master’s degrees. The first, and most obvious, is the MBA. But a two-year program, one that’s usually more expensive than other options, may not be best for everyone. That brings us to the second kind of business master’s degree. Often called “specialized master’s,” these programs are focused on a specific field or industry, such as finance, management, or analytics.

While everyone will have individual motivations for pursuing any degree, there are five reasons you probably want to consider a specialized master’s in business.

They’re great for your career

Whether you’re looking to change careers or advance within your own company, a business master’s will concentrate on a specific discipline. If you want to be a CPA, an MBA will give you a lot of knowledge that’s not applicable to that job. You want to take a lot of accounting classes, so a master’s in accounting makes much more sense. That same logic applies to booming fields like logistics and business analytics, occupations where general business knowledge won’t get you very far.

Another way a business master’s can pay off for your career is that many programs are about a year in length, meaning you can either juggle work and school or leave your job to return to school full-time without quite as much of a lifestyle change as a full-time, in-depth, two-year MBA.

They develop very precise skills

This is true whether you’re staying in your current position or starting fresh: The better you can demonstrate your skills in that area, the more likely you are to advance in your career. Look for a business master’s degree that’s not just theoretical or a repeat of what you learned as an undergrad. The best business master’s programs place a premium on capstone projects, designed to synthesize all the new expertise you’ve gained. Some of these projects are even sponsored by outside companies or NGOs — that can really look good on a resume! You’re also exposed to different teaching styles in grad school, and you can expect to learn from research-oriented professors as well as experienced professional practitioners in the best programs.

They build your professional network

Don’t overlook the value of a good network. No matter where you go in your career, it will benefit you to have connections to your school’s alumni, your faculty, and the professional connections you make while in a grad program. This doesn’t just mean doubling the size of your connections on LinkedIn; a robust network is a great resource for new ideas and information, as well as for new opportunities. It’s also important to remember that making connections is not the same as strengthening your network — you have to provide input to others and work at keeping those connections top-of-mind to really benefit from them.

They’re a great return on investment

Each year, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), conducts surveys of hiring companies and alumni to gauge where the value is in graduate education. In the 2018 alumni survey, among nearly 11,000 respondents, the median base salary was $115,000. Understandably, that varies depending on job function and geography, but it’s also well-documented that those with master’s degrees make more per year and over their career than those who never advance beyond a bachelor’s degree.

They make you happy in the long run

In the same GMAC survey, alumni indicate overwhelming satisfaction with their degree in terms of career path:

The majority of business school alumni feel their graduate management education advanced their careers at a faster rate compared with peers who do not have a graduate management education. Recent alumni tend to be employed in mid-level positions (49%), while those who graduated earlier have climbed into senior, executive, or c-suite positions.

The bottom line

A business master’s degree can give you better career outcomes and increase your earning potential. Complete the form on this page to learn more about the master’s degree options from Arizona State University’s highly ranked W. P. Carey School of Business.

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