Some people are a little hesitant about going back to school, especially if they have been out of academia for a while. However, returning to school can yield big rewards, especially when the aspiring student is seeking an advanced degree.

An advanced degree puts an individual in a position for a promotion or can result in a substantial pay increase without a promotion. It may also provide the education and skills needed for a career change. Those who are thinking about going to school should consider six things when shopping around.

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Cost of Going Back to School

The first thing to consider when shopping around for a program is cost. Schools vary in what they charge for degree programs. A more expensive program does not mean that the program is better than others. The reputation of a program is one of the best determinants of whether graduates will get the knowledge and skill needed. A less expensive program can have a very good track record.


The second area of consideration when going back to school is convenience.  For those who work full-time, going to a campus may be impossible. Earning a masters degree online is convenient and can also save money because the learner does not need to worry about travel and housing.


Another area that one should think about when shopping around for a school is how long the program takes to complete. One question to ask is how often courses are offered. It is easy to get into a situation where a course may be offered every other year or less. This can extend the time to complete the program and graduate.

Transfer Credit

Does the program accept transfer credit or accept graduate credit taken while in the undergraduate program? If credits can be transferred to the program, this will shorten the time needed to earn a degree.


Finally, when shopping around for a graduate degree program, ask questions about the success of the past graduates. The career planning and placement office or the academic department should be able to provide statistics such as where graduates are working and how much they earn. If a certification exam is required in a particular field, it also makes sense to ask how graduates perform on those exams. Many schools take a lot of pride in tracking successful graduates so this information should be accessible.

Annette HazardAnnette Hazard is a freelance writer that is currently balancing work and education as she works on her masters in electrical engineering online from Ohio University. She often writes about education.

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