How Much Can a Masters Degree Enhance Your Career

DECEMBER 07, 2016
Many students and colleagues have asked for my thoughts on pursuing education after pharmacy school. Although the simple answer can be “Education never hurts,” graduate school is expensive—very expensive. And with the lack of substantial and reliable data coming from schools on how well their students perform financially after graduating, it can be nearly impossible to figure out whether taking out thousands of dollars in loans or depleting your life savings will pay dividends in the long run. To state the obvious (or at least the important), a larger salary doesn’t always translate to more happiness or greater satisfaction with one’s career, though these are major reasons that individuals do pursue graduate degrees.
My advice for those considering going back to further their education: if you’re absolutely passionate about advancing your career or particular skill set or knowledge base, and if you have distinct short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals in mind and a clear understanding of how this degree will help you achieve these goals, then by all means, pursue the degree. Consider it an investment in yourself and fully dedicate yourself to the pursuit of your dreams. Sometimes, your employer may even pay for the degree. In my case, my employer paid for the degree in exchange for a predetermined amount of time that I would work for said employer upon completing the degree.
If your passion in life is to combine pharmacy and photography, that’s fine, but strongly consider the ramifications of borrowing $100,000 to get a degree because, chances are, you may not be able to make that particular pursuit fiscally worth the investment.

Some graduate degrees pay off more than others—and the size of a pay increase greatly depends on the type of degree based on the supply and demand of that degree in the market place. So my second piece of advice on the matter is to do your homework. Understand your wants for your career, your goals, and also know the market. Know what fields are in demand and see if there’s something that piques your interest and also aligns with what is in demand in the market. Have an interest in technology? Want to combine it with health care? Maybe a career in Health Care Informatics (a rapidly growing field) is a suitable fit for you. My degree is in Pharmaceutical Policy & Outcomes. Everyone is different. Do what works for you; base it on your interests and talents and try to combine that with what’s in demand. If, based on your due diligence, spending thousands of dollars on a degree will help boost your career options, then go for it!

Alan Polnariev, PharmD, MS, CGP
Alan Polnariev, PharmD, MS, CGP
Alan Polnariev, PharmD, MS, is a board-certified pharmacist committed to improving patient safety by championing pharmaceutical outcomes research and policy. He received his PharmD from Long Island University and a master’s degree in Patient Safety and Risk Management from the University of Florida, where he currently serves as a clinical assistant instructor for several courses in the school’s Master of Science program. Dr. Polnariev has provided consulting services for various pharmacy organizations, including the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and Institute for Safe Medication Practices.
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