May 24, 2019 | 62° F

NJ offers 6th highest payoff for attending graduate school

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

New Jersey ranked 6th in a list of states with the highest post graduate degree payoff. Students who decide to continue their studies in state can estimate a 14.51 percent increase in pay raise compared to the national average.

Deciding whether to attend graduate school is not always easy, but the payoff for a graduate degree might depend on the state that the student is in. 

Student Loan Hero ranked New Jersey No. 6 in the country for graduate degree payoff.

The median graduate degree salary in New Jersey is $85,789 and the pay difference between individuals with bachelors degrees versus those with graduate degrees is $22,483, according to Student Loan Hero.

The pay raise for earning a graduate degree in New Jersey is 35.51 percent — higher than the national average which is about 21 percent.

“I am not surprised. I know a lot of people in New Jersey. When they think of grad school they think if they go they will make more money. So it makes sense to go,” said Taylor Smith, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

"New Jersey workers who earned a graduate degree commanded some of the highest pay in the nation, with median salaries second only to those in Washington, D.C.," according to Student Loan Hero.

The median salary for New Jersey residents with a graduate degree was a third higher than the $63,307 median salary for workers with a bachelor’s degree, according to USA Today.

“I do plan on attending graduate school because I feel like when it comes to getting a career in the real world, if I went to grad school and I am up against someone that did not, I would be the one to get the job or the position simply because I went to grad school and I have another degree,” Smith said.

Rutgers Business School alumni Ken Amos said he thinks that going to graduate school makes sense, but it may not be the best decision for all. It depends on several factors that would help to determine if graduate school is right for someone.

Students applying to graduate school may have a higher success rate if they have prior work experience before attending graduate school.

“I ultimately want to get into marketing so I was actually at a standstill when it came to marketing because I could either go to grad school and get more knowledge on marketing or I could go right into marketing and get more experience while people my age are in grad school,” Smith said. “But ultimately it comes down to making more money and obviously I want to make more money so I will be going to grad school.”

It makes sense to attend graduate school for a few reasons, Amos said. If that is a personal academic desire, if someone is enrolled into a joint undergraduate and graduate program, if an employer pays for it and if a career requires it, it would make sense to attend.

According to CNBC the highest paying professions that make graduate school worth it include the positions of cardiologist, radiologist, psychiatrist, director of product management, staff software engineer, global marketing director, patent attorney and more.

The degree payoff also depends on the graduate schools ranking. Rutgers has an abundance of graduate school programs that are recognized highly with a significant payoff. 

For example, Rutgers School of Communication and Information Master of Information program is listed at No. 7 on the “Library and Information Studies” top schools list, according to the School of Communication and Information's website.

Rutgers Graduate Pharmacy Program is ranked 30th in the nation and Rutgers Graduate School of Nursing is ranked 19th, according to UsNews.

“ ... according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent American Community Survey, at the national level, the median salary for workers who attained a professional degree, graduate degree, or higher (such as a Ph.D., MD, or MBA) was $69,240 (inflation-adjusted to 2017 dollars). That’s 32.14 percent more than those who earned just a bachelor’s degree,” according to Student Loan Hero.

Learning in the classroom is more meaningful when someone has real-world experience to relate to which in return will make a student’s time at graduate school more efficient, according to

Amos said at the end of the day, it all depends on the individual's situation and needs to determine whether he or she should attend graduate school.

“Graduate school can be more valuable if you attend when you have work experience. Depending on the area of study, work experience can increase your benefit and networking at grad school, and you are able to provide business experience with the research carried out at grad school,” Amos said.

Kayon Amos

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