Find Your School
Securitydegreehub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Should I Get a Master’s Degree or a Graduate Certificate?


There are several differences between a masters degree from a graduate certificate. For one, the average cost of tuition is lower with a graduate certification than that of a masters degree. This is a huge benefit, since many students do not want the headache of taking out student loans or applying for financial aid. At the same time, this can also be a downside if the student needs the help to pay for school; Since students of graduate certificates do not always qualify for federal financial aid.

What is the Difference Between a Master’s Degree and a Graduate Certificate?

Here is a list of some of the most common differences that help students choose from enrolling into a graduate certificate, compared to a masters degree program.

  • Unlike the master’s degree, graduate certificate students usually do not need to provide GRE scores as part of their application.
  • Certificate programs may also help in advancing in specific industries of choice.
  • Graduate certificates also take less time to complete compared to the masters degree.
  • Graduate certificate students may also have a shorter application process compared to master’s degree- seeking students.
  • Certificate programs are a fast way to get your foot in the door. Once in, you decide how far you go in that particular field.

What Types of Graduate Certificates are Commonly Offered?

There is a wide variety of graduate certificates available to graduate students. Depending on your field of study or interest, students can also choose anywhere from Nursing to Information Technology to Cybersecurity. Most graduate certificates are available as an additional comprehensive study format or concentrated subject of  the study chosen. For instance, many students may choose a certificate in Cybersecurity as a specialization, to go along with their BS in Information Technology. Another graduate certificate option may be the Family Nurse practitioner, commonly called the FNP-MSN degree. However, this certificate is provided to only graduates of the BS in Nursing programs and listed as a master’s degree instead of a certificate itself. Yet, as you can see with the Cybersecurity certificate, the FNP is also an additional program on top of an original bachelor’s degree.

Here are several types of certificate programs commonly offered to graduate students. Each provide additional coursework and may even provides internship opportunities as well.

  • Business
  • Criminal Justice & Legal
  • Education
  • Fine Arts & Design
  • Health & Medicine
  • Liberal Arts & Humanities
  • Math, Science & Engineering
  • Public Affairs & Social Sciences
  • Religious Studies Certificate Programs
  • Technology

Potential Salaries for a Master’s degree or Graduate Certificate.

Continuing your academic aspirations by going to college, or in some cases, back to college is one of the smartest moves many students make. Especially if they have the desire to make a considerable salary from a promising career field. Getting a bachelor’s degree will provide entry-level positions in a variety of positions. However, for grad students who want to specialize in a particular line of work or field, getting a masters degree or Graduate certificate is the better choice. Yet, does earning a college degree really lead to a higher pay rate?  And if so, is it actually higher or worth the time, the effort, and the money it takes to do it? The answer is Yes. By advancing your academic education with a graduate certificate or Masters degree, it can also lead to higher annual salaries and increases in earnings over a lifetime.

Below are some of the average salaries from several job positions that require a graduate certificate or masters degree. To make it simple, they are broken down into fields or categories. As you can see, there are quite a few salaries that provide relatively high pay rates. Some even six figures, making them a very attractive career option to many graduate students. In addition, the salary information provided is up to date wage amounts that comes from the BLS, as of 2020. No matter which field a student is interested most in, there is always opportunities to reach higher with a graduate certificate or a masters degree.

MBA or Business-related positions

  • IT Manager- Median Salary: $146,360/year. Growth by 2028: 11 percent.
  • Marketing Manager- Median Salary: $135,900/year. Growth by 2028: 8 percent.
  • Business Operations Manager- Median Salary: $100,930/year. Growth by 2028: 7 percent

Engineering degree options

  • Engineering Manager- Median Salary: $144,830/year. Growth by 2028: 3 percent

Master of Science in Finance

  • Financial Manager- Median Salary: $129,890/year. Growth by 2028: 16 percent
  • Financial Advisor- Median Salary: $87,850/year. Growth by 2028: 7 percent

Master of Science in Computer Science

  • Software Developer- Median Salary: $105,590. Growth by 2028: 21 percent.

Master of Science in Nursing

  • Nurse Practitioner- Median Salary: $115,800/year. Growth by 2028: 26 percent
  • Nurse Anesthetist- Median Salary: $167,950. Growth by 2028: 17 percent

Related:

Top 10 Online Homeland Security Graduate Certificate Programs

Top 10 Online Emergency Management Graduate Certificate Programs

Top 10 Online Cyber Security Graduate Certificate Programs


Find Your School
Securitydegreehub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.