Author Topic: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?  (Read 7876 times)

hoyahoyasaxa

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 81
Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« on: February 07, 2014, 01:32:02 PM »
Here's a question for all you Mustachians.  If you had the opportunity to go back to grad school completely free of charge, what would you study to put yourself in a better career position to achieve early financial independence?  How about if you prize your time and want achieve a higher salary and maintain a good work/life balance?

rocklebock

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 247
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2014, 01:58:06 PM »
I honestly can't think of anything. I have the terminal degree in my field, plus a second master's. A PhD in humanities or social sciences would make me a better candidate for certain elite jobs, but I wouldn't spend 7-ish more years in grad school on the off-chance I'd find a job that pays $30-$50k more a year. I could get a graduate degree in a related field where some of my skills would transfer, but I'd still end up being qualified only for the entry-level of a new profession, earning less than I do now. I'd be better off using the money for community college classes in areas that would support a comfortable and interesting life post-FI.

Random Hangers

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 122
  • Location: FL
  • I'm Christine, nice to meetcha
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2014, 02:13:48 PM »
Engineering. Business. Can you get a graduate degree for pharmacology? Do you need one?

You know what I wouldn't get? An MA in History. Mostly because I already have one, and since I ended up in a completely unrelated field, it seems a little like overkill, lol. (Though I am SUPER grateful that thanks to fellowships and work studies, I didn't need to take out any loans.)

warfreak2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1140
  • Location: UK
    • Music by me
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2014, 02:23:16 PM »
My degree is in Mathematics, and I'd probably go and study exactly the same course a second time, just to do modules that I didn't choose the first time round. Otherwise, Economics.

That said, I'd choose that as something I do for fun, not to improve my career.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2014, 02:27:31 PM by warfreak2 »

data.Damnation

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
  • Location: Madison
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2014, 02:25:39 PM »
I would not go back to school at all. There is no advanced degree (I know of) with enough ROI to warrant pursuing.

mxt0133

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
  • Location: San Francisco
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2014, 02:32:56 PM »
I would use the time and money spent on that grad degree and self educate.  Learn to work for yourself, learn to do things yourself, cooking, entertainment, ect.

I have two master and would gladly give back both event if it was to just improve my skill set and get paid the same or more via self study.  I honestly feel that my productivity is severely handicapped by my lack of motivation at my current job.

Guizmo

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 263
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2014, 02:33:05 PM »
Hey I'm a Hoya too!

warfreak2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1140
  • Location: UK
    • Music by me
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2014, 02:56:07 PM »
I guess I should add, I now work for a university, who are willing to pay for my tuition to do a PhD there. I guess I ought to submit a proposal for that...

minimalist

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 140
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Washington, DC
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2014, 03:00:43 PM »
MBA

nawhite

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1060
  • Location: An RV somewhere in the West
    • The Reckless Choice
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2014, 04:10:04 PM »
Either Outdoor Recreation Business Administration or EMT.

Once the student loans are paid off and I have enough in the 401k to know I'll have enough at 65 (i.e. FU money, not necessarily FIRE money), I want to work for/own an outdoor guiding company. My years of Engineering have made me rather unemployable in that field though. There are fewer jobs in Outdoor Rec so the competition is way more fierce. Having the BA degree would really help get my foot in the door.

ScienceSexSavings

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 119
  • Location: Montréal
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2014, 08:14:44 PM »
Currently studying molecular biology and would definitely do it again!

cdttmm

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 250

ender

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4771
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2014, 09:32:27 AM »
My grad degree is paying dividends simply because I learned to live like a grad student for several years prior.

Even if I don't make a single dollar more in my career it's still beneficial.

ysette9

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5016
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
    • Insert Snappy Title Here (Journal)
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2014, 07:08:38 PM »
I studied engineering for my undergrad and grad. After graduating with my B.S., I hired on to a big company that eventually paid for my master's. I took classes over almost four years (part-time) while working full-time.

As a point of comparison, my husband did a similar engineering degree at the same school but he quit working after 2 years post-undergrad to pursue his master's degree full-time. He finished in nine butt-kicking months. 6 years later, we earn almost the same thing. We are both engineers, though different flavors working in different fields.

I throw that out there to illustrate that we arrived at essentially the same place but through different means. Quitting and doing a master's degree in nine months is enormously difficult. Likewise, working full time while doing a master's part-time is also enormously difficult. In the end, they were both absolutely worth it, but I strongly believe that is entirely due to the fact that we both studied "hard" majors at top schools that were directly translatable to the job market. I would be very, very wary of pursuing grad school for a major that doesn't give you a good shot of an increased income. Even if tuition is free, there is still the opportunity cost of your earning potential combined with any return on savings you could get in that time. Just my 2 cents...

AccidentalMiser

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 659
  • Age: 51
  • Location: SE Tenn
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2014, 07:14:51 PM »
What's your undergrad degree in?

I'm going to also vote MBA.

Noodle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1167
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2014, 09:42:22 PM »
Honestly, if I had the chance to go back to school for free, I'd use it as a chance to study something fascinating that couldn't possibly return the investment if I spent money on the degree. That is a rare gift from the universe, to spend time around people who love and are expert in, and want you to be expert in, the subject that interests you, all without taking on a lot of debt.

I might stop at a master's, though. Writing a dissertation is a heck of a lot of work.

But I like learning in a formal setting. YMMV.




beltim

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2833
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2014, 12:54:55 AM »
I would not go back to school at all. There is no advanced degree (I know of) with enough ROI to warrant pursuing.

There is no advanced degree worth free tuition?

ysette9

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5016
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
    • Insert Snappy Title Here (Journal)
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2014, 10:14:18 AM »
I know a lot of people are voting "yes" on the MBA, but I would look at that carefully (as with all possibilities) if I were you. MBAs can be quite expensive and depending on your background and current work experience, they can range to not worth the money and time to being very beneficial.

If you are looking to change careers and get into a field you would not otherwise be able to break into, an MBA can be good. If you already have a decent career and are looking to advance it, I would suggest that you only do an MBA if you can get into one of the very top schools. Otherwise you may be sacrificing time and money and not necessarily getting yourself ahead. Your time may be better spent networking, doing a certificate program or some other career-specific training, spending time with mentors, or other activities. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that degrees are the only way of advancing a career/earning potential.

Johnny Aloha

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 315
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2014, 10:33:23 AM »
Depends what you want to do! 

I got paid to go to grad school because I was a research assistant in an engineering program (at a big school), which is surprisingly common.  They paid tuition, health insurance, and paid me $21k/yr in exchange for 20 hours of research per week.

I'd probably do an MBA if I went back again.

frugally

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 135
    • Welcome to the Woods
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2014, 10:46:27 AM »
I'd get my MBA.  However, I'll have to get my undergrad degree first. :)

hoyahoyasaxa

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 81
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2014, 04:23:45 PM »
Thanks for the replies, all.  I work for NYU and have some interests; particularly prospect research and grant writing.  I don't exactly get free tuition yet, but it's 90% covered.  I got my undergrad degree in government, worked in politics for five years and realized I hated it.  I'm in what I'd call a placeholder job right now to pay the bills while I try to get involved in what I'm really interested in, and was mostly just curious what others would do if they could get a free graduate degree.

ch12

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 593
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2014, 05:25:43 PM »
Honestly, if I had the chance to go back to school for free, I'd use it as a chance to study something fascinating that couldn't possibly return the investment if I spent money on the degree. That is a rare gift from the universe, to spend time around people who love and are expert in, and want you to be expert in, the subject that interests you, all without taking on a lot of debt.

I stayed in school for about 2 years longer than I needed to - what wasn't paid for by scholarships was covered by my parents. When I graduated with my four majors, I was still 21. Education is an extraordinary gift, and one that I think isn't adequately valued by most people. There's a difference between going to school to get a degree and going to school to learn. I did the second, though I consciously gave up 2 years' worth of wages. I am a curious person, and I love learning new things.

What could have been my fifth and sixth majors: human factors or linguistics - My company is talking about sending people in my role for human computer interaction training, and I want to be first in line. It's funny, but my little corner of the world has an unusual number of people interested in linguistics and related fields. I would love to study those things, and I do things like the Coursera class I'm taking right now which relates to my job and is really interesting to me.

Aside: for everyone who would want to get an MBA tuition-free
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/wharton-puts-first-mba-courses-164555193.html
http://blog.coursera.org/post/60889088289/the-wharton-foundation-series

Gray Matter

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3629
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2014, 05:32:24 PM »
Honestly, if I had the chance to go back to school for free, I'd use it as a chance to study something fascinating that couldn't possibly return the investment if I spent money on the degree. That is a rare gift from the universe, to spend time around people who love and are expert in, and want you to be expert in, the subject that interests you, all without taking on a lot of debt.

I'm with Noodle on this one--I'd go back to school just for fun.  I'm too old to waste time in school and in a career that is lucrative but not fascinating.  If I didn't have to pay tuition and didn't have to worry about how much money I'd make after I graduated (and had someone to pay the bills while in school), I would study a combination of cognitive science and public health, kind of the intersection of how individual brain's work in a variety of situations/settings/systems.

Trying225

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 31
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2014, 08:34:35 PM »
I'm in the same boat. I work at a university and I'm taking some undergrad classes in information science before applying for the masters in information science. I, too, worked in politics and came to dislike it. I'm interested in user experience design but there's a lot of classes (database architecture, etc.) that I will have to take before I get to actually work on the UX stuff which is a little bit of a turn off. I keep wondering if I want to spend the next 5 years of my life doing this or not. It's a free education and I know that's hard to come by nowadays.

Weedy Acres

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 278
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2014, 05:42:12 AM »
I would not pick what to study based in a vacuum on what has the best ROI.  If you do that, you might pick something you don't particularly care for or aren't particularly good at.  That would likely lead to a less-than-expected ROI and lower than expected happiness.

Instead, I'd do some soul-searching about what you truly want to do, and determine the best way to go about getting it, which might include more education.

I got my MBA after working for 8 years and realizing the specific career change I desired.  It focused my studies and job search well and I got what I needed and wanted.  Other classmates that were enrolled because of the high perceived ROI or because of a vague sense of wanting a change, lacked the focus and ended up meandering a bit, being attracted to the glamorous fields others were chasing, and have bounced around in the post-school workplace figuring out what they really want to do.  Some are doing things they love that absolutely did not require an MBA, which means they wasted a boatload of time and money. 

That said, if I got free tuition and had the time, I'd pursue a PhD in economics just for the fun of it.  I LOVE economics.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13746
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2014, 06:57:36 AM »
Honestly, if I had the chance to go back to school for free, I'd use it as a chance to study something fascinating that couldn't possibly return the investment if I spent money on the degree. That is a rare gift from the universe, to spend time around people who love and are expert in, and want you to be expert in, the subject that interests you, all without taking on a lot of debt.

+1

One of my regrets about our engineering program was that we were only allowed to take four electives during our four years at school . . . and they were restricted electives (had to be selected from a list that someone thought engineers should take).  I'd love to go back to school and learn some music theory, jazz history, music composition, stuff like that.

grantmeaname

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4759
  • Age: 27
  • Location: NYC
  • Cast me away from yesterday's things
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2014, 07:09:27 AM »
Is anyone else besides me considering going back for a useless, shits-and-giggles type degree after FI just for the fun of it?

jrhampt

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1072
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Connecticut
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2014, 08:37:48 AM »
I did have this opportunity, and I chose a master's in Math/Statistics which was paid for by my employer.  As someone has mentioned, working full-time while going to grad school is not the most fun ever.  It took me three years.  I finished last year and now enjoy $22k more in salary than I did previously, so I guess it was worth it, although it depends on how much longer I can last in my career.  If I had known in advance how much it was going to suck, I'm not sure I would have had the heart to go through with it. 

This was my second master's degree; my first was 8 years ago, but either it was much more fun because I wasn't working full time, or it was long ago enough that I've forgotten most of the annoying parts.  I used to think that I would love to go for a graduate degree in something like children's lit or folklore/mythology or library science or something, but I can't stand to think of any more grad school at the moment.  When I add up the total number of years I've spent in school over my lifetime, it's been something like 23 years. 

Daleth

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1201
Re: Free Grad School Tuition: What do you Study?
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2014, 08:54:34 AM »
Here's a question for all you Mustachians.  If you had the opportunity to go back to grad school completely free of charge, what would you study to put yourself in a better career position to achieve early financial independence?  How about if you prize your time and want achieve a higher salary and maintain a good work/life balance?

Since I'm already a fatcat lawyer I don't think there is a degree that could do much for my salary, except maybe medicine, although that would take so long that it wouldn't speed up FI. I mean, obviously if I could become a hedge fund trader I'd achieve FI sooner, and there are degrees that could get me hired into that field... but I don't think I really have the aptitude.

I would love to get a free PhD in something really interesting (though not lucrative), though, just for fun.