A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the value of a college degree and whether it’s really something everyone needs.  In this guest post, Randall James explores whether a master’s is a worthwhile investment and which ones might be the best for working parents.

Once a parent enters into the workforce, his or her educational (and therefore, professional) life is not necessarily over. Indeed, it can be difficult to balance graduate school along with caring for the children, looking after the home and going to work every day. Therefore, it’s important to be wise when selecting a master’s degree program in which to enroll. What are some of the smart options out there?

Business is a wide and diverse field that is almost always a safe bet. The terminal degree in this field is the MBA – a Master’s of Business Administration. With this degree, you might go on to manage a huge company, or even work as a manager in a local industry. In any case, the great thing about an MBA is that it’s appropriate for almost any interest – regardless of what field you work in, it can help you advance. Furthermore, many employers will be willing to pay for an MBA, in hopes that you will be an investment for their company.

Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies
Forbes Magazine lists a master’s in physician assistant studies as the number best master’s degree to attain, and it’s difficult to argue when you hear why. This magazine lists some pretty astonishing figures for this career, which seems to be growing and expanding despite the current economic climate of the United States. For example, the job growth rate is listed as 57 percent, and the median salary for a mid-career person working in this field is a staggering $98,900!

Master’s in Computer Science
Forbes lists this field as number two on the aforementioned list. What exactly could you do with a master’s in Computer Science? Well, several different options exist. You might work on computers for a large corporation or business. Another option is to teach several classes at the college level, or to work in a high school if you have an undergraduate degree in education. The magazine lists the median salary for a mid-career person working in this field as $111,000. While lower than the physician assistant’s field, this one is still growing with a 39 percent rate of job growth, making it higher than many others.

If you’re already working in a career, a few components exist that you need to consider. First of all, do you want to work toward obtaining a master’s that will further your position in your current company? If that is the case, then find out if your employer will pay for some of the cost and if a substantial salary increase will come as a result. Additionally, regardless of where you are in life, you need to think about what you want out a job too. Going for a degree that pays well but requires you to work 80 hours per week is not the ideal situation if you have a family. Many people find out that this is the case upon earning a JD – and the money isn’t always exactly worth it. Bring what makes you happy into the equation as well.

Going back to school is a huge decision, as it will take both time and money to complete. Therefore, consider all possibilities, benefits and risks when you’re deciding if this is what you really want to do. Then, take the time to make the decision that is best for you and your family.


Randall James writes about technology, education and more at www.bestcollegesonline.org.