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6 reasons why now is the right time to go to grad school

There are lots of reasons to continue your education after earning your Bachelor’s degree, or even your Master’s degree – everything from career advancement to growing your network to leaving a legacy you’re proud of.

As the world adjusts to the “new” normal forced by the novel COVID-19 pandemic, going back to school may now be more of a reality than ever before. Because of the ongoing virus, MTSU is waiving the GRE and GMAT for most graduate programs. Located in Murfreesboro, just 30 minutes south of Nashville, there’s no better place than MTSU to continue your journey.

While there are dozens of reasons for taking the leap and going back to school, here are six top reasons why you should take that next step.

Personal and Intellectual Growth

For many, the reason to continue their education beyond a Bachelor’s degree is personal. Maybe they want to challenge themselves, maybe they are the first in their family to go to college and beyond, or maybe they just want to push themselves to do more to hone in on their skill.

For College of Education Professor Kat Mangione, the reason was a combination of sorts.

“I was the first person in my family to graduate from college,” she said. “My mom finished high school and my dad completed eighth grade. So in 1991, I was the first person in my family to earn a college degree.”

Graduate student Sarita Balbuena was not only the first person in her family to attend college, but also to graduate high school. She said she wanted to continue her education to make her grandparents proud.

“I was the first person in the family to graduate high school and get a higher education. I am proud to not have let all their hard work, dedication, and sacrifices for me go in vain,” she explained.

Leaving a Legacy

Dr. Cara Skaggs earned her third degree from MTSU in May – a Doctorate of Education in the Assessment, Learning and School Improvement from the College of Education. Dr. Skaggs, a wife and mother of two daughters, said she felt called to earn her latest degree.

“I don't have a dream job in mind, but I do want to continue to help K-12 teachers in their professional growth,” she said.

Dr. Skaggs said she plans to participate in a later commencement ceremony  because not only is it important to her and her family, but she said, “it is especially important to show my daughters what it means to be ‘hooded…”

Career Advancement

Besides climbing the corporate ladder a little quicker, a Master’s degree can also help you earn more money.

For example, a brand new teacher with a Master’s degree and no experience will earn just over $45,000 in Rutherford County, while a teacher with a Bachelor’s degree will earn just over $41,000 starting out.

Around 70 percent of graduates from MTSU’s Master of Science in Professional Science program are offered jobs from their internships, while more than 90 percent of students are employed at graduation.

“We have had some data that was self-reported, and most of our students average making between $60,000 and $70,000 a year.  So, a person with a biology BS degree will make around $40,000 to 45,000, and with the MSPS degree in biotechnology, their salary will be about $65,000 a year.  It is very dependent on where they go.  If they move to California or New Jersey, where the hot-spots are, they make upwards of $80,000.  If they stay in Tennessee, they are closer to $55,000 to 60,000,” explained Suzanne Hicks.   

Skill development

For some, continuing their education beyond a Bachelor’s degree is a way to find out what their passion is. MTSU professor, and co-director of the Data Science Institute, Dr. Charlie Apigian is one of many who did just that.

“I had a unique path to academia.  When I graduated from undergrad from Bowling Green State University, I was hoping to go to Law School.  But, it was a bad time in the car industry - I am from Detroit, where my dad had a small tool and die company that was struggling.  I chose to go back home and help the family business.  During that time, I learned that I was mostly interested in data and technology and was able to help our company rebound during a tough time.  Once, everything settled down and the company was going well, I decided to continue to pursue academics.  In the end, I have a BSBA in Marketing, an MBA with a concentration in Finance, and a PhD. in Manufacturing Management.  On the surface, none of my degrees follow a traditional path to information technology and data science,” explained Dr. Apigian.

Growing your network

Besides growing knowledge in your desired field, going to grad school is also the perfect way to grow your network personally and professionally.

“Each class is a distinct fiber that weaves a larger and more complex blanket of knowledge and growth. All of the classes I have had thus far challenge me personally, academically, and professionally. I am grateful to have a supportive network of mentors to help me achieve the best version of myself that I can be,” said graduate student, Sarita Balbuena.

The time is now

While the coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty in many ways, now is the perfect time to go back to school and continue your education.

MTSU offers an array of graduate classes that accommodate your lifestyle and busy schedule.

So what are you waiting for? If you’d like more information on how to apply to a graduate program at MTSU, click here.

You can also email questions to or call 615-898-2840.