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Should I Go to Grad School? Three Good Reasons (And One Very Bad Reason)

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Allison Jones

Should I go to grad school illustration, with eight black graduation caps on light blue ruled paper, darker blue arrows in background.

With a new school year starting, you may be wondering, "Should I go to grad school?"

Choosing to pursue an advanced degree is no light business; from the application process to deciding which of the programs you've been accepted to is right for you, there are many steps you'll take before stepping foot back in the classroom. That being said, pursuing a graduate degree is a great way to advance your social-impact career (and for some professions, the only way!).

Before you begin searching or applying, it’s important to assess your reasons for wanting to go to graduate school, as pursuing a graduate degree requires a significant investment of time and resources.

3 good reasons to go to grad school

Among the best reasons to go to graduate school are:

  • It is necessary for your desired professional field. Jobs that are in healthcare, law, teaching, and social work may require you to have an advanced degree before they'll even consider your job application.
  • It can improve your career prospects by increasing your responsibility and/or income earning potential. It's possible that you've advanced as much as you can in your chosen career and want to keep climbing the social-impact ladder. If that's the case, grad school can equip you with the necessary skills and experiences to show your organization that you deserve a title bump and raise. They may even help you pay for it!
  • It can enhance your professional prospects. You may want to switch careers, but all of your experience lies in one specific field in the sector. Moving from communications to accounting, for example, is a shift that grad school could make easier! In addition, your earning potential can increase much faster if you take some time away from your career to pursue advanced studies.

One bad reason to pursue grad school

Because of the investment required, we also want to highlight one potentially bad reason to go to graduate school: you’re avoiding a problem.

Whether the problem is professional (you can’t find a job, don’t like the one you have, or are having a problem with co-workers) or personal (you don’t know what to do with your life, are facing financial difficulties, or are struggling to find work-life synergy), the amount of money and time required to finish graduate school will likely exacerbate these problems or lead you to make hasty decisions.

Instead of thinking of grad school as a good out of your problems, you should think of it as a helpful in for your future career! For all of the other stuff, we likely have a Career Advice guide to help you out.

Allison Jones profile image

Allison Jones

To better support our community of job seekers and changemakers, as well as strengthen Idealist's position as a great place for nonprofit jobs, Allison supports Idealist Career Advice by sharing stories and tips on how to find, land, and love your social-impact career. She is currently the VP of Brand and Storytelling at Common Future.

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