Getting a master’s degree or earning real world working experience, it’s a decision many students face once they graduate. So which is best for you? You may be surprised to find out there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. The choice is dependent upon a variety of factors that you’ll want to take into consideration before making that decision.

Your Chosen Field

For starters, some industries and fields are going to require an advanced degree in order to get ahead. If you’ve obtained a business degree or graduated from a medicine, education, or law program, then your success in that particular field is going to dictate that you pursue a master’s degree in order to open the doors to the prestigious companies and organizations that offer top dollar. That’s not to say that getting your master’s is always the best choice, but for some industries, earning work experience will be the thing that employers prefer to see on your resume instead. Ask around and talk to others who are currently working and succeeding in your field, see how they’ve fared in their chosen paths.

Money in the Bank

How much of it do you have to fall back on? That is because money is going to play a substantial role in your decision. Pursuing a degree isn’t cheap and you could be taking on a lot more debt in order to obtain your master’s or any other advanced degree. How much debt do you already have in the form of student loans, credit card debt, or other financial obligations that are related to or were amassed while you were finishing your undergrad program. You’ll also want to remain cognizant of the fact that you could be earning the exact same salary in the entry-level position of your field with or without that master’s or some other advanced degree at Princeton University. It’s going to be up to you to do some initial homework in your preferred field to find out what you can earn at starting positions around the industry.

Good Time Management

You’ve already chosen your field and you’ve done the mathematics. Maybe neither have made the decision any easier, which is why you might want to consider a third option: Combining both together. It’s true. You can juggle getting a master’s degree and earning work experience at the same time. How you do that is up to you, but focusing on one in a full-time capacity while devoting your time to the other on a part-time basis can give you the opportunity for having your cake and eating it too. Many students undertake this routine by focusing on work and enrolling in USC’s masters in public health program part-time. Doing both is more common than you may think as students put all of their focus and concentration into earning a degree and work experience in equal measure. This does require real commitment and repeated sacrifice but those students who apply themselves thoroughly will find they are well-rewarded once they have that advanced degree.