Ask Stacy: I’m 50 — Should I Go Back to School for a Master’s Degree?

A lot of middle-aged people go back to school for a graduate or undergraduate degree. Good idea? It depends. Here's what you need to know.

Ask Stacy: I’m 50 — Should I Go Back to School for a Master’s Degree? Photo by Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Welcome to “Ask Stacy,” a short video feature answering money questions submitted by readers and viewers.

Today’s question is about going back to school. Lots of people do it. But is it really worth getting a graduate degree to improve your chances of getting a job? Watch the following video for my take. Or, if you prefer, scroll down to read the full transcript and find out what I said.

You also can learn how to send in a question of your own below.

For more information on this topic, check out “5 Things to Weigh Before Going Back to School After Age 50” and “High Satisfaction, Great Pay Make These the Top 10 Jobs for 2018.” You can also go to the search at the top of this page, put in the words “jobs” or “college” and find plenty of information relating to this topic.

Also, remember that if you need anything from a to help with debt, you’ll find it in our Solutions Center.

Got a question of your own to ask? Scroll down past the transcript.

Don’t want to watch? Here’s what I said in the video

Hello, everyone, and welcome to your one-minute money manager. I’m your host, Stacy Johnson, and the idea here is simple. You ask me a money question; if I can’t answer it in less than a minute, you didn’t need to know it anyway. Ready? Here we go.

Our question for today comes to us from Chet:

“Financially speaking, does it make sense for a person over age 50 to get a graduate degree? I’ve been away from the labor force for many years caring for a parent. I wonder if it would help or hinder employment prospects if I return for a master’s degree, probably in management or business.”

I’m going to give you three things to consider, Chet. But first, let me tell you about my wife, the beautiful Sara Johnson.

A few years ago, Sara was an experienced nurse with a four-year degree in nursing. So, she went back and got her master’s degree, which allowed her to qualify for a totally different job: nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners are in big demand and typically make a lot more than nurses. Easy choice, right? She knew she’d make more money — she now makes 50 percent more than she made as a nurse — and she knew she was going to be able to get a job immediately. She also got her degree as inexpensively as possible. In fact, the hospital where she was working as a nurse had a program that reimbursed her for a lot of the cost.

Now, let’s get back to Chet’s question. Point No. 1 I just illustrated: Understand exactly what that master’s degree is going to do for you. Sure, it’s always good to be educated. We’ve got a sur of stupid people in the world. But if your perspective is purely financial — and you want to get more value from a degree than it costs — before you leap, get an idea of exactly what that degree is going to do for you.

Point No. 2: As Jerry Maguire said, show me the money! If you’re not sure what field you want to work in, do some research into jobs that pay well and are expected to grow. You can find out by searching online. One place to start? The . There’s a listing with tons of jobs that are growing, how much they’re growing and how much they’re paying. You can also see if a master’s degree is necessary.

And that leads me to point No. 3: If you already know the profession you’re aiming at, talk to as many people as possible in that profession. See what they say about a master’s degree. How do you find them? Network among your friends, or check out local organizations and associations. Most professions have one.

Bottom line? Don’t blindly go out and get a master’s degree simply because you think it might look good on your resume. Make sure that all that effort — and it will be effort — is going to pay off for you, Chet.

Need more info? Go to localpizzadeliverywalledlakemi.info and do a search for “jobs.”

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The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. In other words, don’t ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you. And if I don’t get to your question, promise not to hate me. I do my best, but I get a lot more questions than I have time to answer.

About me

I founded Localpizzadeliverywalledlakemi.info in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

Got any words of wisdom you can offer on today’s question? Share your knowledge and experiences on our. And if you find this information useful, please share it!

Got more money questions? Browse lots more Ask Stacy answers here.

Stacy Johnson
Stacy Johnson
I'm the founder of Localpizzadeliverywalledlakemi.info and have spent the last 40+ years in the personal finance trenches. I'm a CPA, author of a few books and multiple Emmy recipient. I'm ... More

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