How worthwhile is it, careerwise, to pursue a second Master's degree?
November 18, 2009 7:28 PM   Subscribe

How worthwhile is it, careerwise, to pursue a second Master's degree?

I have one professional Master's degree, but job openings are scarce in that field right now (urban planning, or stuff in the public policy/community-related nonprofit world in general). I'm considering going back to school, but wondering if that would help me or hurt me -- I understand some employers reject candidates with advanced degrees. I also worry that being a specialist rather than a generalist would put me in a box when looking for jobs outside that specialization.

That said, I might be interested in some kind of health policy degree, but it's very early in the game.
posted by mirepoix to Education (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you are okay with the financial and time investment, I think further education & additional degrees are always a good idea. In my experience, advanced degrees only become rational for rejection when you are applying for jobs outside your field & they think the position you're applying for is just a temporary thing until you begin your "real" career. Even in that situation, if there isn't a significant gap in employment history, you do not need to disclose advanced, non-related degrees. Maybe you could take a class or two to see if this is something you really want, and then go from there. I bet going part-time for a semester while you support yourself with a full or part-time job would tell you a lot. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 7:49 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I also think further education and additional degrees are always a good idea, but mainly for personal growth, not for "landing a job".

Three or four years spent getting a degree solely to increase your odds at a better job, though, especially when you have no real data on which to base that perceived improvement in the odds.... well, that's a long, long time that could be spent looking for and applying to those jobs, or jobs a level beneath, and time in which you could rack up actual real experience.

(Sure, if you turn out to have been right about the degree's value, you might indeed get rejected five or six times as often for lacking it, but... you have years to keep trying, so the sheer numbers are on your side anyway.)

In hiring, an applicant with three years direct experience (even it it's from work one step down from the position) almost always trumps the applicant who spent the same three years getting a better degree... but has no experience.
posted by rokusan at 8:58 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

...I understand some employers reject candidates with advanced degrees.

Umm yeah. Some employers also reject candidates based on prettiness.

Way more employers accept candidates based on their having advanced degrees than employers rejecting candidates based on them having advanced degrees.

"Depends", is the answer you are looking for.

It all depends on the job. If the new degree is more closely related to the job you will be interviewing for on D-Date, then its a good bet. If the old degree is more closely related to the job you will be interviewing for on D-date, then it might be inconsequential.

If you are shooting for a technical/professional degree then its a good bet because it will allow you to apply and be interviewed for more jobs.

But in interviewing for a job that requires a masters degree, you may not get a leg up on candidates who have only one.

It depends...mostly on what you want to work in on D-date. The closer your degree is to what you want to do...the better than chance it will help the interviewer decide in your favor.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:08 AM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

"I also worry that being a specialist rather than a generalist would put me in a box when looking for jobs outside that specialization."

My first Masters is in Quantitative Finance, highly specialised (following up on undergraduate Math & Computer Science), so after about eight years I decided to take an MBA (which I'm now finishing) solely so I'd gain a broader perspective.

I think another Masters makes sense if you can see it as complementary rather than alternatives to existing qualifications. My MBA programme, of course, featured finance electives which I almost completely passed on (only took a few more Economics classes as I'm interested in the subject) in favour or HR, Management Accounting, Operations Management and Marketing; all stuff I had zero knowledge of and felt that I'd benefit by pursuing.

Now all this being said, when I was evaluating business schools for my MBA I was actually pitched a DBA, Doctor of Business Administration, degree by two institutions. Seems that at least in Europe some folks in education have a bias against multiple masters and will try to push you towards taking a doctorate. For me that was a non starter as I knew what I lacked from a knowledge point of view, and an MBA precisely filled that gap.

At the time an MBA ideally suited my career path, but since taking it I've found many other doors have opened. You probably already know that degrees do that.

In any case I wouldn't worry about taking another Masters, as long as its not a duplicate of your first degree. After all, the more you know the more you can offer an employer.

And if an employer rejects you citing "an advanced degree" they're really doing for nothing more than monetary reasons.
posted by Mutant at 7:48 AM on November 19, 2009

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