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Should you go to grad school? The pros and cons you need to make your decision.

Published April 1, 2024| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Going to graduate school is a decision most students don’t take lightly, and it’s certainly not the right path for everyone.

    Remember, this is a decision that’s going to have huge financial and personal implications. Don’t rush as you make the decision. Do a lot of research, and discuss it with family and mentors that you trust.

    Here are some possible pros and cons when it comes to attending grad school. This is by no means an exhaustive list, it's just a starting place as you begin to think through this decision.

    The pros of attending grad school

    Attending and completing grad school comes with quite a few pros. Here are some of them:

    • You may have the potential to earn more money when you acquire a graduate degree, especially if you have professional experience to complement the degree.
    • You’ll likely gain increased knowledge related to your profession—which can help you become a subject matter expert in your field.
    • Going to graduate school may allow you to perform field research relevant to your area of study to help you gain advanced skills and knowledge related to your field.
    • It can be a great networking opportunity. A strong network may lead to future opportunities as it can help you bypass some steps in recruiting processes if you have professional referrals.
    • If you're looking for a career change, it can help you build new skills, credentials, and connections to help you expedite that process.
    • Some careers require advanced degrees—becoming a doctor or a college professor, for instance.
    • The feeling of accomplishment that comes with advancing your knowledge in a subject that you're passionate about can’t be understated.

    The cons of attending grad school

    Like any major life decision, there are cons to consider when it comes to attending grad school. Here are some of them:

    • Graduate school tuition can be expensive, leading to potential student loan debt and financial strain, especially if you don’t receive financial aid.
    • It can be a big-time commitment, depending on the degree, which can delay your ability to begin your career if you aren’t currently working full-time or if you’re pursuing a career change.
    • It may be difficult, and you may face challenges and stress while balancing your academic requirements and personal life.
    • There’s no guarantee that a graduate degree will lead to a higher salary or career advancement, which can make the time and money investment a risk for some students.
    • Unless you’re in a night-school program, you’ll likely either not be earning money, or you’ll be earning significantly less money than if you were in a traditional professional career, which might add to the financial burden of this decision.
    • Many graduate programs require students to do extensive research and complete a thesis or dissertation, which can be time-consuming and stressful.

    Final thoughts

    When it comes to graduate school, you’ll likely want to invest time in researching the graduate school programs that you want to pursue to ensure they align with supporting your professional and personal goals. Researching grad school costs may help you decide if you can afford it financially. From there, start to narrow down whether this is the right choice for you overall.

    Ultimately, going to grad school is a personal choice, and you’ll want to make the decision that’s best for you.