Graduate Programs

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Changing careers can seem like quite the challenge – there’s so much to take into account, it can get difficult to tell where to start! There’s training to consider, where to apply, how to gain the skills necessary to switch and more. If you’ve been thinking about changing your path, you’ve likely thought about these, just as this writer did when she wanted a change. Quite a lot of the time, it seems like all roads lead to the same point – “Do I have to go to grad school?”

Not necessarily! 

But, probably, yes.

Considering graduate school gives you even more to consider. Where will you go? Can you get in? Do you have to give up working full-time? What time commitment are you willing to make? What about the costs?

These are all good questions. Graduate programs can seem intimidating with such a list of requirements and that’s even before you actually get to see what the coursework looks like!

With these in mind, the real issue can be whether or not you believe it’s worth the career change to have to go through all that. I questioned it. The truth is, it largely depends on what you want to do. 

There are certainly career paths that won’t require such a drastic change to your daily routine. For example, you could pursue a certification instead – a lighter commitment for a large reward. When I started looking for myself, I considered several different kinds of certifications instead of jumping right into a degree program. In fact, going to graduate school was one of the last options I considered.

What ultimately swayed my decision, was the simple fact that those who attend grad school, on a whole, wind up with higher rates of employment and satisfaction.. From there, I went further into researching job placement rates for graduates of the various programs I was interested in. Without looking at those rates, it can be hard to tell if a program is worth it. There are certain professions that would benefit greatly from a graduate degree and don’t necessarily require your undergraduate degree to be in the same field. For example, those interested in teaching as a second profession have undoubtedly learned useful facts from their undergraduate degree, but when switching to being an educator,, that matters less than their ability to actually teach. With that in mind, someone could become a teacher with quite a variety of undergraduate degrees. 

Quite a few graduate programs don’t require a bachelor’s degree in a specific field at all. Eastern Michigan University’s MS in Integrated Marketing Communications doesn’t require a bachelor’s in communications or marketing. Applicants in their most recent cohort had degrees in unrelated fields, such as art and design or English.UM-Flint’s own MS in Health Care Management simply requires a bachelor’s from a regionally accredited institution, no need for anything specific. So long as you have work or personal experience in a field that you’re interested in, quite a few graduate programs will accept you based on experience rather than what degree you have. 

 Some professions don’t require a master’s, though it may give you an edge over the competition in that field. Web development often only requires certain certifications, such as a Web Programming Certificate, or a UX Design Certificate. If you want to change paths into that field, the requirements might be lower than a commitment to a master’s degree. You may just have to study on your own for quite a bit of time. That’s the key issue: while successfully changing careers may not depend on whether or not you’ve acquired a master’s degree, you are going to have to study whatever you would like to pivot to, likely for some time. A graduate degree program can help with this – it all depends on what you want to do. 

That’s the core question – what do you want to do? A graduate degree may make the path to that outcome much easier and more likely than others. It may not. You just need to go into your plan with a clear mind, and understand what you want to do. 

To learn more about your graduate program options and if they are a right fit to help you meet your goals, contact the Office of Graduate Programs at the University of Michigan-Flint at (810) 762-3300 or at