7 Reasons to Attend Graduate School


Maybe you are still on the hunt for that perfect job, maybe you have just secured your first teaching position, or maybe yet, you are a veteran teacher with many years of classroom experience. Graduate school has crossed your mind, but you have yet to make a commitment. 

You are still wondering, “Is it really worth it?” It can be a daunting task, deciding whether to return to graduate school, but the value of advancing your degree can reap many benefits beyond the actual certificate. So why should you start working on your master’s degree now?

Reason #1 – To Secure a Teaching Position

Adding on a specialty area will only enhance your resume, making you more employable. Our country is currently experiencing nationwide teacher shortages across disciplines, but particularly in areas such as special education, world languages, reading and English as a second language (U.S. Department of Education, 2018). By enrolling in a graduate program that also allows you to obtain a new certificate or licensure will open more doors for job opportunities.

Reason #2 – For Financial Incentives

Depending on your state and/or school of employment, you may be eligible for a pay increase once you obtain your master’s degree. Furthermore, there may be opportunities for tuition reimbursement as you pursue your degree. It is important to check with your local school to determine what financial benefits are offered for advanced graduate coursework.

Reason #3 – To Satisfy Continuing Education Credit Hours

Although it varies state-to-state, engaging in professional development opportunities through workshops, trainings, or coursework is often required to maintain licensure. If it is required to earn continuing education hours, why not earn a master’s degree at the same time.

Reason #4 – To Remain Current with Evidence-Based Teaching Practices

Beyond licensure maintenance or recertification, enrolling in graduate school will help you remain current with the most efficacious teaching strategies and techniques. Graduate school will enhance your skills whether a novice teacher or veteran teacher. New research is continually being published to provide evidence to support various classroom management strategies, academic interventions, and behavioral interventions. Remaining up-to-date with current best practices will contribute to your success as a teacher, and ultimately to the academic and behavioral success of your students.

Reason #5 – To Make a Career Change

Perhaps you are interested remaining in education, but in a different capacity. The world of education has a wide array of job opportunities beyond the traditional teacher role. School psychologists, reading specialists, school counselors, principals, social workers and behavior specialists are just a few of the many professionals that comprise the education world. Graduate school is your path to a new career endeavor.

Reason #6 – To Develop an Area of expertise

There is no better way to develop an area of expertise than through graduate school. Perhaps your passion is working with students with autism; an advanced degree in behavior management or applied behavior analysis may be your track. Perhaps teaching children to read and studying the most effective reading techniques is your area of interest; an advanced degree in reading would be an appropriate avenue. Whether your niche is behavior, reading, curriculum, or early childhood education — to name a few — there is a graduate program out there that will fit your interests.

Reason #7 – For Personal and Professional Growth

Although a vast amount of knowledge is gained through the completion of a graduate program, there are many benefits to finishing a program that extend beyond increases in knowledge. Networks are established, friends are made, skills are enhanced and confidence is gained.

Deciding to pursue an advanced degree may not be an easy task; financial costs, family commitments, and work responsibilities should all be taken in to consideration when making a final decision. However, once you decide to further your education, regardless of the reason(s), you will forever be thankful for the knowledge, skills, and recognition that accompany that master’s degree.

Dr. Meghan Ferraro is an assistant professor and the graduate program head for special education in the Department of Counseling, School Psychology, and Special Education. She is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, as well as a Pennsylvania Certified Elementary Teacher, Special Education Teacher, and School Psychologist. She has over 10 years’ experience working in the public school system as both an educator and school psychologist. Dr. Ferraro earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary and Special Education from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree in Educational Psychology, Educational Specialist’s Degree in School Psychology, and Doctoral Degree in School Psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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