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Is Now the Right Time to Join a Master’s Program?

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January 29, 2016

By: Carl Winston

A master’s degree can transform your life and help you take charge of your career trajectory. But, there’s much more to it than simply deciding, “I want to go back to school,” or, “I want to get a better job.” As is the case with any major life investment, joining a master’s program is a matter of making the right decision at the right time.

Have you considered pursuing a master’s degree? Read on for a brief guide that will help you identify whether now is the right time to take the leap.

The Current Job Market

A key indicator of economic growth, the U.S. hospitality and tourism industry is currently booming. With year-over-year performance and revenue increases in 2016 predicted, hotel chains are expanding at never-before-seen rates. For example, in nearby Orange County, Calif., developers and investors spent roughly $1.4 billion on hotel purchases in 2015.

With those types of numbers, it’s rather safe to say that the current economic environment is ideal for investing in your career, and your prospects are even brighter if you’re looking to enter the hospitality and tourism industry.

Who’s Right for a Master’s Program?

Even a robust job market won’t guarantee employment for every undergrad—much less rewarding and fulfilling employment, for that matter. A master’s degree is the time-tested investment for becoming a standout candidate in the eyes of employers, especially if:

  • You have been in your current job for several years and feel stuck in a routine
  • You have aspirations that aren’t currently being met
  • You want to take your career to the next level
  • You’re feeling a lack of stimulation at work
  • You’re not just using graduate school as a means for putting off a job search
  • You’re looking to gain applicable experience and business acumen
  • You see a long-term value in growing and strengthening your professional network

A Master’s Degree is Not Just a Feather in Your Cap

Don’t let the piece of paper that is a master’s degree lull you into a blind investment. The most important thing to remember when weighing the benefits and drawbacks of attending graduate school is that a master’s program should change your life. It should be an immersive experience that dramatically increases your intellectual firepower and earning potential.

A truly valuable master’s degree is not the mere result of doing your homework on time, getting good grades, and passing your exams. It’s about changing the way you approach your personal and professional life.

Questions to Ask Yourself

If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re at least fairly serious about pursuing your master’s and generally aware of how realistic the idea is given your personal situation. Now, here are a few questions to ask as you home in on a decision:

  • Are you feeling stagnant in your career?
  • Are you looking to change your career?
  • Are you in it for the credential or the experience?
  • What types of successes are the alumni of a given program seeing today?
  • Will you be able to work while you attend school?
  • What is the potential for return on your investment?

A Master’s Program for Future Leaders

San Diego State’s L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management (HTM) has a 15-year track record of producing outstanding graduates who flourish in the workforce and in their personal lives. The massive success of our undergraduate program spurred the development of the HTM Master’s Program, a unique, affordable, hands-on curriculum designed to help you become a better leader. Click here to see how the HTM Master’s Program will change your life, as told by past HTM Master’s students who are living their dreams.


carlAuthor: Carl Winston, Director, L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism at SDSU (LinkedIn)

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