The Advantages of Advanced Degrees

    Seeking one or more graduate degrees is a major commitment of time and money. The work and research is intense, and it can be difficult trying to find a balance between classes, work, and family, making your undergraduate years seem like a stroll in the park. So why do people do it?

    “One of the most obvious and oft-cited reasons is to increase one’s earnings,” explains Christopher Puto, dean of the St. Thomas Opus College of Business. “Studies show that graduate business degree alumni, for example, can expect to earn 35 percent more than non-degree holders.”

    According to a report from the College Board, the average four-year college graduate—over a 40-year career—will earn about 66 percent more than the typical high school graduate. The report shows that individuals with advanced degrees earn two to three times as much as high school graduates.

    The real value of a graduate degree, however, goes beyond compensation. The potential for increased earnings can be extremely appealing, but the effect an advanced degree can have on a person’s overall job satisfaction and quality of life is immeasurable.

    “The best programs provide students with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to profoundly impact their industries, personal lives, and the community,” Puto says. “Moreover, an exceptional program creates an environment that encourages its students to craft mutually beneficial, durable relationships with faculty, staff, and fellow students, providing a vital combination of education, experience, leadership development, and lifelong connections.”

    An MBA? Or a PhD?

    There are two traditional categories of graduate degrees—master’s and doctoral—and a number of hybrid combined-degree and certificate programs at colleges and universities.

    A master’s degree is typically the next educational step beyond the bachelor’s degree. It can be either professional—designed for employment or advancement—or academic, designed for intellectual growth or as a prerequisite for doctoral within a certain field.

    A doctoral degree, the highest possible earned academic degree, can also be professional or academic, like a master’s degree. Professional doctoral degrees, such as the Juris Doctor (JD) or Doctor of Medicine (MD) stress the application of knowledge and skills, while the Philosophy Doctor (PhD) focuses on advancing knowledge through original research.

    Where to go?

    Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota— with campuses in Winona and Minneapolis and centers in Rochester, Apple Valley, and Minnetonka—offers advanced degrees at the master, specialist, doctoral and certificate levels. There are over 58 programs (including bachelor degree completion programs). Saint Mary’s Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs’ main focus is on the adult learner and providing personal, ethical, professional and innovative education. The areas of study include Saint Mary’s Graduate School of Education, Graduate School of Health and Human Services, and Graduate School of Business and Technology (popular programs in this school include the M.S. in Project Management and the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program). The School of Professional Programs offers Bachelor of Science completion programs, giving students the opportunity to take valuable life experiences and apply them as part of the degree credits.

    As a result of requests from current and prospective students, McNally Smith College of Music is going the extra mile to provide its student body with even greater opportunities. A new Master of Music (M.M.) degree designed for performance majors in a variety of disciplines began this past fall. The contemporary music college is offering the M.M. in Performance degree for voice, strings, woodwinds, brass, piano, guitar, bass, keyboard, and percussion. The program will emphasize advanced music performance study through applied music lessons, ensembles, recitals, and studio performance. McNally Smith recently received approval for the program from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). The four-semester, 38-credit program will also include intensive performance technique and stylistic studies, as well as music technology and business education. With courses in everything from global improvisation to new media promotion and digital audio production, the McNally Smith M.M. graduate will have the skills and experience needed to interact the music industry in whatever career they choose.