Reasons to Go To Grad School for Informatics
- You Do Not Have Experience in the Healthcare Field or don’t have a technical background
- Clinical/medical/healthcare analytics is growing like crazy and there’s a serious need for qualified candidates. Even without a healthcare or technical background, a graduate degree in informatics shows employers you understand the topics and issues you need to know in the informatics field and you’ll be right on par with other candidates with some experience but no formal degree.
- The Jobs You’re Targeting are Research Related
- Many positions involving research and the publication of research will require an MS or higher. If this field interests you, then graduate school is essentially a requirement.
- You Have Time Available to Put Towards Coursework
- A graduate degree will likely take two or more years of your time away from you. If you’re willing and able to put in the time, go for it.
- You Feel Comfortable with Your Financial Situation and Understand How School Would Affect it
- If you’re still haunted by your student loans from undergrad, you may consider paying down some debt before school or looking at going part-time while working instead of full-time.
- You Want to Have the Potential to Make More Money in the Long Run
- Advanced degrees often result in higher salaries. However, it’s important to note that just because you have a grad degree does not always mean a higher salary. Research some positions requiring an MS and their project salaries on Indeed.com before assuming you’ll make more than your current position.
- You Want to Have More Room for Advancement on the Corporate Ladder
- There aren’t a ton of informatics grads on the market right now, and that gives degree holders a serious step-up on the competition.
- You Have a Strong Emotional Support Team
- When churning out page after page of drudgery for your dissertation, you’re going to need someone to keep pushing to you keep on keeping on. Having a support team, whether its your mother, boyfriend, or dog, can help get you through the grueling process of a graduate degree.
Reasons Not to Go to Grad School for Informatics
- You’re Already in the Job you Want
- In this situation, the cost of tuition, lost salary, expenses and relocation of attending school may not be worth it if the benefits are marginal.
- The Idea of Writing Long Papers is your Personal Hell
- If the idea of writing a long paper such as a thesis makes you want to quit now, and you haven’t even started, then you may want to rethink your decision.
- You Don’t Want to Move
- You may have to relocate yourself and your spouse or family, if you have one, resulting in a lot of added stress and left-behind friends.
- You’re Lacking Focus
- Grad school will require that you focus for long periods on sometimes uninteresting topics. Grad school requires a lot of “grinding it out” through tough coursework and emotional roller coaster rides.
- Your Financial Analysis is a No-Go
- Grad school is expensive. If you move, you have relocations expenses. If you leave your job, you have no income. If you can’t find a research assistant or graduate assistant position, your tuition may be very high. If you don’t receive any financial aid, you’ll have to pay out of pocket. Going in to debt is a scary proposition and not a risk some want to take, and that’s quite an alright reason not to go to grad school.
Think Grad School is Right for You?
Here are some next steps to take.
Do a Personal Financial Analysis
Write down the following:
- Your current salary
- Your realistic salary after grad school
- The cost of tuition, fees, and books
- The cost of living and relocation if moving to school
- Any lost salary or earnings
- Time to complete your expected program
Add your total costs (tuition + living) for the time you expect to complete your degree in to any lost earnings you could have earned in that time period.
Let’s say you made $45K before grad school and are expecting to make $60K after completing your degree. You’re expecting to complete it in two years and the cost is $25K/year for tuition and another $10K a year in living expenses (hello ramen and student housing).
Your cost for your degree is $70K (assuming you don’t have any student loan interest) and you’ve lost out on $90K in income, bringing your total costs to $160,000. That’s a lot of money.
However, for every year you have that degree, you’ll be making about $15K more than you would have without it. Dividing $160K/ $15K, you’ll pay your school off in just under 11 years. Whether 11 years of paying off a degree is worth it to you is completely a personal choice.
Search for schools with programs and curriculums that interest you. You can find a pretty thorough list of available programs through the Programs and Courses Section of the AMIA website.
Visit, Sit in on a Course, Apply
Get a feel for the professors, their teaching styles, the curriculum, and the general attitude of the students there. Take a campus tour, sit in on a class, and try to figure out if its a good fit for you and your goals.
Get in, finish the program and add those nice little (expensive) initials to the end of your name and feel the pride in your accomplishment!