The Grad School Payoff

Educated people do so much better in so many aspects of life by deepening your mind.

By + More

Kevin Murphy, an economics professor at the University of Chicago who has studied the economic benefits of higher education, warns that money shouldn't deter anyone from any level of education—including graduate school. "I hate to see people get discouraged" by high tuition costs, says Murphy, who won a MacArthur "genius" prize in 2005. Educated people do so much better "in so many aspects of life by deepening your mind, and improving your appreciation of life. You should go for a master's in poetry if you enjoy it," he says.

Those who finish their grad degrees also tend to earn bigger paychecks. The average worker with a college degree earns about $42,000 a year. Master’s degree recipients earn an average of $52,000. Ph.D.’s earn an average of about $71,000 a year. And those who’ve earned professional degrees such as law or medicine earn an average of about $82,000.

But since grad courses can be expensive, and most students have to borrow to pay at least some of their tuition, it would be foolish not to at least consider the financial costs against the financial benefits.

So before you commit to a program, or an education loan, check out:

  • What salaries people in your intended field are earning.
  • What your monthly payments will be on your student loans.
  • How quickly graduates from your school got jobs.
  • What salaries graduates from your program are earning.