Is a Masters Degree really Worth it? A Feasibility Analysis 18

Every year, close to a million students, both domestic and international, apply for various Masters degree programs offered by the universities in the US. For some, an MS degree implies foray in the field of further research and knowledge, while for others, it is a shortcut for getting high paying jobs in the country after successful completion of the degree.

It is for the students belonging to the latter category that this post primarily applies to. This is so because for research and knowledge oriented student, the importance of the Masters degree is not measured by the salary or the job remuneration. However, for those pursuing Masters with the ultimate intention to land a high paying job and decent standard of living, it is important that they carry out their own research regarding the job market conditions.

Jobs after Masters in US

There are plenty of jobs for the MS graduates and the average salary is between $50,000 and $80,000. For IT professionals and researchers in embedded systems and radiation technology, the salary can be up to $113,000, depending upon the experience and years spent in research.

The job market is indeed upbeat and a simple search at will give sufficient information about the salary of jobs for professional with MS degree in different field. The best end of the spectrum is occupied by the computer research and IT professional, the best of whom earn a six figure salary, but not all of them.

Feasibility Analysis: The Return on MS investment

When we talk about investment, that is the cost of doing MS in the US, it is pretty much clear that we take into account not only the tuition fee, but also the boarding expenses and the overall cost of living there for two years.  In our post of the cost of doing Masters in the US, we calculated the semester wise cost to be between $35,000 and $50,000. This means that, for the two years course in a Masters degree program in the US, you will have to pay around $80,000 to $100,000.

The amount can shoot up to $110,000 for students with cars or those staying in tier I cities like NYC, San Francisco etc where the cost of living is very high.

Staying in the US with a Job

Let us work with a median salary of $50,000 for the MS degree holders and then see how much saving is possible to be made every month:

  • First things first: tax of 33% is levied on the income, which means that the total disposable income remaining after tax deduction is $33,500. This means roughly $2800 per month.
  • From $2800, the expenditure on accommodation and living expenses is around $1500 to $1800, including the automobile maintenance and other ancillary expenses.
  • The average savings per month is between $1000 and $1100, which can be ruined in case of medical or health contingencies with no insurance coverage.
  • The above figure also does not take into account the sum that goes towards the payment of loan installments, if you had taken any for your MS education in the US.

How many years before you break even?

This is a rather tricky question and even after considering all the data given above, one cannot precisely state this. If the cost of MS education is $50,000 (after scholarships and loans) for two years, then with average salary of $50,000 and per month saving of $1000 (without the payment of the loan installment), it will take the students more than four years to recover the cost of education completely.

With payment of loan installments, it might take longer and a single short way of improving the return on investment on MS education in the US is to try for as many scholarships as possible. Studies indicate that it is possible to fund the MS degree program 100 percent through fellowships and scholarships.


The bottom line of the entire feasibility analysis is that an MS degree in the US is profitable only if the cost of education is minimized through scholarships and the person is able to get a high paying job, so as to maintain is decent standard of living and save good amount of money every month.

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18 thoughts on “Is a Masters Degree really Worth it? A Feasibility Analysis

  • shathish

    HI ADMIN thanks in advance. im a c.s student 3rd year with 8.00 cgpa when is the right time for a pre final year to write gre and apply for universities. btw im from a middle class family what are the other ways of coping up with the tution fees other than educational loan. i will be probably working part time jobs to save some money. i dont really wanna trouble my parents

    • admin

      You should get some experience after finishing college and take gre while working. Keep looking at universities and if cost is your top priority, look at public universities. In, you can sort universities by tuition and with rankings next to it, you can get a fair idea of how much tuition would be.

  • Amlan Dey

    To the Author of the content,
    Seeking advice for my Career,

    Lemme share my case, seeking for your further inputs on that :
    – Indian, Completed B.Tech with IT…PGA 8.00 (being an international student, is it a drawback for getting Job , in a race with Domestic students ?)
    – Work exp in MNC (CMMI 5) 4 years in IT software industry.
    – Applying for MS with IT in US
    – Thinking to “bag a Job” and settle down there with whatever …green card/ extended Visa etc … are required and possible to get . (People often discourage me on the availability of the H1B Visa and procuring a green card or extended work permit etc…)
    – 60 Percent of the total fee I am gonna afford from my savings and the rest from LOAN,…is it a disadvantage?
    – Does Job fares held off-campus only recruit only local/green card holder ?
    Please Please enlighten me with all possible hindrances you see in my way…

    • admin

      @amlan , the good news is that the you are planning to do masters in US in an area which has highest job openings and has been enjoying a boom period for last couple of years.
      You can look at latest job openings and salary statistics
      The bad news is that visa numbers do match with the applicants who come in.

      But if you get a job offer early and find a visa sponsor, you should not have trouble in getting a H1b.
      The way you will have to get a job is that while doing Masters, start connecting with companies who sponsor H1b.
      At end of 2nd year you should start giving interviews. As soon as you complete the course, you can apply for visa

  • Dr. Jayesh

    hi admin. I finished my MD in Physiology in india.and I wanted to pursue MS/Phd in US, something related to neurophysiology/biophysiology, what are my chances of getting a good paid salary job there itself and my gre score is 1470..

  • parul pandey


    i just wanted to know what are the best fields in electronics and telecommunication in which can pursue masters so that i can land up with a high paid salary job….

  • dushyant naik

    how are the job prospects in oil & gas construction in US? I am planning to do MS construction engineering & management and have around 2yrs exp in oil & gas construction

  • ravi

    @anurag… hey nice article…the thing that actually concerns me is the h1b visa issue… I am confident enough that if I go to US for a masters degree I will get myself a job but since I am from a middle class family … after spending so much on education coming back from us without working over their because of whatever reason is not possible for me… Considering what I have written what will u suggest shld i go for ms in us

    • admin

      It is individual’s decision but if you are doing a course in the right field which has good jobs , then you should be all set

  • Anurag


    They are talking about an ideal scenario. Those falling under various tax slabs calculate it according to their income. The rent again varies from city to city and in cases where the student opts for campus accommodation, it can be quite less. As per medical insurance, there are instances when a person is rendered without an effective coverage, as in while switching jobs etc. The point regarding medical insurance mentioned above takes extreme case scenario in consideration.

  • steve

    1.Your tax calculations are wrong. Not everybody falls under 33% tax bracket.
    depending upon on your marital status and wife’s earning, you may fall between 15-33%.
    2.The rent is also on higher side and if you are hsaring with someone , when you are alone it would cost you around $700 a month + utilities
    3. Most of the jobs do proviode medical insurance and you will be paying part of premium.