The June/July 2023 issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “Evaluating the Graduate School Decision: Is it Right for Me?” by Francis Cathlina. Following is a portion from the article.
Many working musicians ponder the notion of pursuing a graduate degree. Is it for me? Can I stop my full-time job to pursue this? In the United States, graduate programs possess options for differing degrees, learning modalities, and program experiences. The variety allows prospective students to choose a specialized path suited for them but can create a daunting task. In the following article, this author—a first-generation Vietnamese-American who struggled through this process—offers points of consideration based on his own lived experiences. Remember that there are many other valuable perspectives in evaluating graduate schools.
In considering this major life step, you should consider six potential benefits of a graduate degree. First, further learning can reignite passion and help rediscover why you entered the music field. Second, these experiences develop specialized skills by refining your conception of music and craft. A third benefit includes additional job opportunities. Fourth, increased pay may be available depending on the professional’s location and occupation. Individual districts within the United States differ in compensation offered to teachers who hold a master’s degree, ranging from $0 to approximately $26,000 (in the state of Washington).1 This author recommends researching one’s district policies regarding salary schedules for educators interested in this fourth benefit. Fifth, a graduate degree transforms the student as a musician, human being, and colleague. The intellectual challenges undoubtedly lead to personal growth. And lastly, those who pursue higher education have the potential to develop an expanded network of colleagues. Through interactions with diverse professionals, graduate training broadens horizons and makes teaching richer.
Read the full article in the June/July 2023 issue of Choral Journal. acda.org/choraljournal