7 Reasons I Won’t Get A Master’s Degree

About every six months, I get the idea in my head that I should go back and get my master’s degree. I spend hours, days researching programs, considering the cost, and musing over whether I should take my GRE. And then I don’t.

I’d love to get a master’s degree. I wish I could. But I’m not going to. Here’s why:

7 Reasons I Won't Get A Master's Degree

1. The Cost. I think this is a big DUH. A recent study found that 40% of the one trillion dollars of student loan debt in the U.S. is from graduate and professional degrees. The average debt for one of these degrees? $57,000. Since I’m still paying off the best for years of my life (aka my undergrad), it doesn’t seem like a brilliant idea to take out more student loans.

2. The GRE. I’m not a good test taker and I don’t feel like studying. #truth

3. Timing. I’ve told you before that I think about timing way too much. Even if I started studying for the GRE today, I wouldn’t be able to start grad school until the Fall of 2015. I’d be 27. That means I wouldn’t be done until I was 29. Now that I think about it, that sounds do-able. Whatever, I’ve got 5 more reasons on this list.

4. I don’t need it for my current job. I just don’t.

5. Non-profit employees aren’t generally making the big bucks. I know, shocker. Taking on a ton of debt to make a itty bitty bit of extra dinero doesn’t make much sense. Unlike being a lawyer, doctor, etc., most work in the non-profit world doesn’t absolutely require a master’s degree. Fingers crossed that in the future, my experience will count more than that piece of paper.

6. Location, location. Sometimes you have to relocate based on the grad school that you get in to. I’m not willing to uproot our lives for something I’m not confident that I want. This leaves me with only a few decent options for where I could go to school. Which brings me to this…

6. Would they even let me in? In all honesty, my undergrad grades weren’t great. I worked a lot in college but I also played a lot. School was not always my priority (though it should have been). I’m sure my work experience would more than make up for my mediocre grades, but still, it would suck big time to study and take the GRE’s only to get rejected.

7. The thing you aren’t supposed to say. I’d rather have a baby than a master’s degree. Not now. Not today. But in the next 5 years. I’ve even mentioned before that I’d consider being a stay-at-home mom. Right about the time I hope to start having kids, I’d have a fresh degree and debt to pay back. No, thanks.

For the record, if I did go back and get my master’s, I’m pretty sure I’d get it in Public Administration. After two years of working at a non-profit, I can say with complete confidence that no work will feel as good as work that is doing good.

I’m thankful that my Bachelor’s degree has allowed me to get a job I love. I have zero regrets about my choice of college, major, and college experience. They say a Master’s is the new Bachelor’s. I just can’t agree with that (who’s “they” anyway?). A Bachelor’s is a Bachelor’s but perhaps I’ll never be a Master.

If you have a master’s degree, are you glad you got it? Was it worth it? If you don’t, do you share my hesitations? 

  • I totally hear you on this one. As a teacher, we can get paid more if we get a masters degree related to our field. But, that ish is expensive and we’re on a teachers and a graduate student’s salary (hubby is a PhD candidate and has funding although not a lot of it). If we move, which is what we’re planning on doing soon, then having a masters degree puts me at a disadvantage because then I’m “more expensive”.


  • I don’t have a masters, and I feel very much the same as you do about getting one. Not to mention the work it takes and the total chance of failure… But that’s all besides the point, I learned recently that for me to go back to school at Fosters Business School (University of Washington) where I got my undergrad, I wouldn’t have to take the GMAT. So if the test is a big part of your reasoning, look into it! If you graduated from somewhere with a bachelors they apparently don’t always make you take the test to get your masters there!

  • I think if you’re going to get your Master’s, you have to be very specific about your future career plans and know if it’s required. I graduated with my Bachelor’s knowing I wanted to be a librarian and that I would need to get my MLS to get a job, even at entry level. I don’t think I could justify the cost if I wasn’t going into that field. It’s ridiculous how much I have in loans right now :/

  • I’ll be graduating in May with my Master’s and I am so glad I made the decision to get it. I was concerned about all of those things you listed. For me, I pretty much didn’t have an option since my bachelor’s degree basically requires higher education. Money was a concern as I didn’t want to sink more in debt with student loans, so I applied for fellowships, got lucky enough to receive one, and now I’m almost on a free ride. Most programs have this option and you usually apply for them before you’re even accepted into the program, so you’ll most likely know if this will be an option prior to signing your life away for the next two years. Programs in my field are highly competitive and typically accept less than 15 new students per year, so relocating for me was a must. That part absolutely sucked, but in all honesty, the two years have gone by so fast and I know it will be worth it in the end. If you can benefit from getting a Master’s, I say go for it. The good thing about grad school is that most classes are at night after normal business hours, typically 2-3 days per week for full time, which will allow you to balance your personal life with it!

  • I almost have my Masters degree and at times feel like I am in the middle when it comes to jobs in my field. They either want a PhD chemist who can work on new things or someone who can follow directions and do basic test aka with a Bachelors. Although with all of that my Masters is a time that I have gotten to do a lot more of the things that I enjoy in my field and in the end I am glad that I will soon have it (or at least I hope I will).

  • No masters degree for me either! Based on cost, money, time and the fact that I’m pretty sure it won’t do me any good. My husband is probably getting his but it’s the track that people in his career take. Plus, zero student debt because he has GI bill and a job that reimburses.

  • I do the same thing and go through phases where I really think I should get it. These are all such valid reasons though – and it sounds like you’re in a good, successful job that you like so why fix something that’s not broken? 🙂

  • I go through this cycle every few months. Struggle.

  • I have a Master’s Degree! Surprisingly, it’s required in my state for school librarians to have a Master’s (which always shocks people.) But even then, I would have gotten it just because teachers get paid crap, and a Master’s almost guarantees a pay raise in most school systems. My degree definitely did NOT cost even close to $57k, and my program required a test other than the GRE. (Though I took the GRE several years ago, and my brain is still mushy from it!)

    The one thing I will say? I loooooved my graduate classes. Aside from writing the thesis, my classes FELT easy because it was something I loved. The timing was difficult because I had to commute an hour for class, annnnnd I was working a full time and part time job at the same time. It’s definitely doable. If I were you, I would just try to determine if it’s REALLY going to benefit you or not. If not? Not point in the money or effort!

  • Natalie

    My mom and I are both working towards Master’s degrees right now. Me in Organizational Communication and her in Literacy and Education. I am a 20 something just getting started in life and she is a stay at home mom to seven children (five of which still live at home!). We are both having marvelous experiences. I would recommend a Master’s degree highly. But that’s just me. Good luck on your journey! 🙂

  • I’m almost done with my undergrad and I part of me wants to get a Master’s in Business just to have that under my belt. The cost does deter me though. The other part of me wants an Associate’s in Business which will be WAY better on my wallet but I’m not sure if Associate’s Degrees are even valuable these days.

  • I know EXACTLY how you feel. I get into this thinking every few months (usually spurred by someone else younger than me sharing their MBA acceptance letter), but then I go through all.of.these.thoughts. All of them. Even the future children part, because timing and family planning are a reality to every woman who wants to have children. It is something that should be shared more often, so thank you!

    The other thought that I add to my list of reasons to say “No” is that I don’t want the kind of higher-stress, take-over-my-life type of job that I would have to take to pay off said MBA in my field.

  • My boss has been…uh…encouraging me to get a Master’s Degree for awhile now. I’m with you. I just can’t justify the cost right now.

  • I’m not even done with my undergrad and have so many classmates talking about wanting to get their Master’s…all I have to say is NO. For the field I’m in I’m starting to realize that contacts matter more than what piece of paper I have and to be quite honest, I have other priorities.

  • I have my Masters degree and it was probably one of the best decisions I ever made. My Masters is in Information Security and Assurance. I was able to get it done in a year and a half, technically I only had 3 classes left over which was the half, because I finished them in the summer. My university had an Integrated program where in your senior year (you had to apply junior year) you could start taking Masters classes and be done (technically) in 2 years, because by the time you’re a senior you’re basically done with most of your classes. The program also let you wave 2 classes (6 credits) if they matched up with the classes you took undergrad. My undergrad was Competitive Intelligence Systems, so I was lucky that I did have 2 classes to get rid of off the bat.
    It ended up only costing me $500 more in the fall & spring (each semester) and $7,000 for the summer classes on top of just what I already took out for my undergrad. I didn’t have to take test or GRE or anything like that, since it was a program within my university and they already knew of my intelligence level.

    I know masters aren’t for everyone, but I don’t think I’d be where I am today (working for a Fortune 500 company) if I didn’t get it. It allowed me to ask for significantly above what I should be getting paid (lack of experience) and I feel so much accomplishment having an M.Sc. after my name.

    I will say that I’d love to go back for an MBA or even my PhD, but someone is full on paying for that because I will not get into any MORE debt. 😛

  • Same here! Once I graduated college, I was asked so many times “Are you going to go to grad school?” And I just wanted to be like, “Can”t you just congratulate me?” lol. But I’m in your same boat. I have no plans on ever going to get my masters. And I also really hate studying lol.

  • i am currently doing my masters in marketing, advert. and pr. i for one Love my graduate classes because its completely different from the undergrad.. for one, you can tell you’ve matured mentally lol.
    however im not in the US and it doesn;t cost me even a fraction of what it costs there, which is why i’m doing it. cost is a huge factor and i probably wouldn’t have done it either if i did live in the states.


  • I’ve interviewed a lot of potential interns who were in a Master’s program but never had any real world experience. I definitely don’t believe in avoiding the economy (as rough as it is right now) and going straight from your undergrad to a Master’s just because it’s easier. It doesn’t look good and it’s clear when you’re interviewing someone who doesn’t understand the true scope of a position.

    On the other hand, I will be going back for a Master’s degree in the next few years. I went through AmeriCorps because I love public service and was interested in the money I would get to pay for more schooling. It’s not much (only about $5,000) but it’s enough to give me a swift kick in the butt to get moving on more education. It’s a “use it or loss it” situation, which I like, because it forces the issue.

  • My husband and I have been talking about this a lot for him and we brought up a lot of similar issues. Neither of us have any debt luckily but as far as timing, location, etc etc I totally agree with you. It’s just tricky. Plus he has his dream job so I don’t really see the point. I feel like there is a lot of social pressure to reach the top academically though. People don’t take you as seriously unless you have an upper level degree.

  • Ace

    Working on getting mine (HELLO GRADUATION IN AUGUST) and honestly, it isn’t worth it. The time, the stress, all that…just. not. worth. it. I am finishing because it’s free (I work for the university), but if I had to do it over, I wouldn’t.

    You’ve got a great job, a great little family, and you don’t hate yourself. No need for grad school 🙂

  • I feel the exact same about teaching. Teachers in Alabama don’t make a ton of money and by the time I’m done with my bachelors, hell mate even before in done, I will want to have a baby. It’s just a matter of weighing finances and priorities. Good for you for being honest about it. 🙂

  • Rebecca

    I have a masters, but only because it’s required for my chosen field. Of course, I’m not actually working in that field as librarian jobs are extremely hard to come by. Oh, and apparently lots of librarians read your blog! Just noticed two of the posts were from fellow MLIS holders.

  • Yes to all these things, even number 7. Sometimes I think I should go back to school, but I think it’s just the “tyranny of the should” trying to cramp my life. I’ll keep my money, thanks!

  • Girl, this is the story of my life. I finished my undergraduate degree a few years ago with a degree in Elementary Education. I quickly decided that I was in no way interested in being a teacher (after spending all that money, isn’t that how it goes) and since then everyone tells me I should just go back to school for something else. That just seems crazy to me since 1) there really isn’t anything I’m absolutely DYING to go back for, and 2) I always picture myself being a stay-at-home mom doing some work from home stuff on the side. So I completely get it! It’s sad that society makes SAHM often feel like they are just “sitting around all day” or “relying on their husbands.” I think everyone should just respect and see the value in mothers who choose to work, as well as mothers who choose to stay home.

    • Thirkellgirl

      Now that my kids are grown, it’s amazing how many people I meet (men and women) who say “good for you” when they hear I stayed home with my kids. It was the right choice for me.

  • I’m still working on my Bachelor’s, so I’m not quite ready to think about that yet. I think il have to see how things are when I start looking for a job. If it’s easier to get the job I want with a Master’s, then I may get one.

  • I have a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. I’m not using it. Never plan to. I decided about half way through that I didn’t want to pursue it. I worked in the field and HATED it. About two weeks after graduation, I quit my job and never looked back. Instead of wasting my the time and money I already put it, I finished and graduated. I have my own business now that has nothing to do with the field.

    My regret is taking the full amount of loans out. Grad school was pretty cheap ($15-20k), but I took out the full amount each time we did the loan letter or whatever. Big mistake on my part.

  • I’m in the middle of working on my Master’s and I wonder all the time if I am doing the right thing. I work in Higher Education and need a Master’s degree to climb the ranks and become anything other than a receptionist… but then again, what I’ll be paid once I do move up really doesn’t justify the expense. I guess happiness with your job is an important factor, too!

  • Thirkellgirl

    I did half of an MBA (my employer was paying 100%, that was in the good old days) before I dropped out. A couple things came together right at the time that I quit, and I have always thought I made the right decision although it would be an ego boost to have those letters after my name. I met my husband at almost 30, after I’d spent several years completely wrapped up in my career. I realized that I wanted to marry him and that we’d have children and that I wanted to be at home with those children, and my work life wouldn’t mesh with that very well. I was traveling every week teaching classes and doing audits and the shine had started to fade from that. And also, I realized that the people who got the highest grades weren’t the ones who knew the most about a given case study, it was the people who could argue their side most persuasively. Because I’m all about verbal warfare, it was me who got As. The challenge was suddenly gone, and I lost interest.

  • I have no interest in getting my masters, either. I think that a lot of people go for their masters immediately after finishing college just so that they didn’t have to look for a job! (I know a few people who fit into that category, haha)

    If anything, I would say that you should work a few years after getting your bachelors before you decide to get your masters. you might find that you don’t want or need it, just like you explained here!

  • Really good points. I’m in the same boat and think there’s no need incur the debt if it’s not needed for my current job or to climb up the corporate ladder.

  • I will say, I never thought I would do mine either but I am about to finish mine in the next 4 weeks. I did mine online, which means I have been able to work this entire time while doing it & I didn’t have to take the GRE….

  • We teeter on this as well. I would love to go back to school, but I am not ready for the time commitment or the money spent. And I don’t think it would really make that much of a difference in pay at my current job. It could, but I doubt it would make it beneficial. I also am terrified of taking the GRE or GMAT (I am awful at taking standardized tests) and I’m terrified that I would get rejected at schools because of my undergrad grades. I have been at my company for almost 7 years, so maybe that would balance it out? I just don’t see it happening any time soon!

  • Amanda

    I have a Master’s, and while I can’t say I regret it, I will say that it was a total waste of money. I’m not in a position right now where I’m using it, and to be honest, I’m hoping to be a SAHM in the near future so obviously having that Master’s degree and extra debt isn’t going to help me in that area. After I graduated undergrad in December of 09, I moved across the state and jumped right into my Master’s in January. I really only did it because I wasn’t ready to start working full time and continuing school seemed like a great alternative at the time. I took out more loans and spent the next 2 years enjoying the last years of my life without much responsibility. I’ll definitely be paying for that decision for a long, long time, but still… no regrets. Maybe I’ll use it someday and maybe I won’t. But I have it, I worked for it, I paid for it, and I’m proud of it.

  • I never wanted to go to University, let alone study a Masters degree. Long story short, I studied Forensic Science, then decided I loved forensic psych so did a second degree in Psychology, then realised I would need a Masters or a Doctorate to really get anywhere further than the other 260 students on my course, and got offered one of 15 places on a new Masters programme here which also included funding. I felt like I had to take it, and I did. I’ve hated the course on the whole, but some modules have been really interesting, and its one-up on every Psychology graduate applying for jobs. I want a baby too, and now my thinking is I want to have children before I do a PhD or doctorate. But I’d settle for a well-paid job now too 😉

  • I thought about getting one before mainly because I wasn’t getting anywhere with my Bachelor’s degree. But the waiting has finally paid off and now I, too, am enjoying non-profit work. So, ditto to pretty much all of your list – I can so relate! 🙂

  • I’m a junior in college right now and ALL the talk has been about what everyone is going to do post grad. So many of my sorority sisters/peers are planning on going to grad school, law school, or PT school. I’ve heard very few people cop to the “I’m just going to go straight into the workforce” option (and why would they, because that ish is SCARY). I feel almost like getting a higher level degree is a requirement these days because so many people feel that they need them in order to have any kind of job security post grad. It sucks. Though I like the idea of grad school on paper, I don’t necessarily know if it’s right for me. I already have loans that need to be paid back for undergrad and the thought of piling on more debt only makes me crazily anxious (what if I do get a Master’s and STILL can’t find a job? I have twice the debt now. Great). Plus, I’d most likely have to relocate to go to grad school for Graphic Design. Still art, in general, is tricky to go to grad school for because it’s really to help people who want to be working artists and that’s not really what I want to do. I’d really like to work in the creative field, but maybe more on the behind the scenes end. Ugh. So much to contemplate.

    You make many valid points about getting a Master’s and know that even people still achieving their undergrad are having the same thoughts as you!

  • I go through these conversations in my head too… and come to all the same conclusions but #1 being that we aren’t going to uproot our lives for me to go to grad school and I don’t want to do back and forth to get one. And yes, the ROI on a masters degree is tiny compared to what it costs in certain fields…

  • I completely hear you! However, I found solutions to most of the issues you have.

    1. I go to school online – UMUC for a Master’s Degree in Cyber Security
    2. School is $25k instead of the average $57k
    3. GRE is not needed. They just want your undergrad transcript.
    4. Fairly easy to get accepted.
    5. Since it is online, I can move to another country if I want. (Actually in the works for it) I do not have to worry about any location constraints.

    -UMUC: University of Maryland’s online college.

    This may not help solve yours problems, but online college answered alot of mine, and UMUC is accredited and all that – it is the go-to school for people in the military all over the world.

  • I’m at the step where I’m considering when or where I’d like to go to grad school, or even if I’d like to go at all. The more I think about it, the less I want to go. I’m slightly burnt out by academics and being in school for SO many years, but who knows? Maybe after a couple of years in the real world, I’ll be craving to be back in a lecture hall.

  • I waffle about grad school all the time. There are a lot of nonprofit sectors that offset the fact that they pay poorly because they don’t require graduate degrees. I, of course, chose to go into the field where I all too often see job postings that require Masters’ and still pay $35,000/year….museums. Wise choice, Andrea.

  • Hi there! I am about a month away from graduating from UGA’s College Student Affairs Administration program and I wouldn’t trade the past two years for anything!!

    Regarding costs: I was able to find an assistantship that covers my tuition so no debt for me. There are a few graduate programs out there that don’t require the GRE, are only a year long, etc…just have to do a little digging to find a program that is a perfect fit for you.

    Ultimately, if you would rather have a baby than going to grad school, then GO YOU! I don’t agree this is something you “aren’t suppose to say” if it makes you happy and aligns with your personal goals. “YOU DO YOU” – this is a quote my program often uses to emphasize the importance of staying true to yourself and being confident about the decisions you make for yourself.

  • grad school is over-freaking-rated. As someone on the other side, I say, if you have any doubts at all don’t do it. These are all completely valid reasons!

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