Students encouraged to pursue graduate degrees

Despite the troubling economy, Eastern’s School of Business is encouraging students to pursue their graduate degree. With the co-sponsor support of the Illinois Certified Public Accountants Society and Beta Alpha Psi, students met in the Lumpkin Auditorium to learn the value of a graduate or a doctorate degree.

For those looking to expand upon their education beyond the undergraduate level, the next step is graduate school, or a doctorate program.

Presentation speakers, John Willems, associate professor of quantitative analysis, and accounting professor Jay Shinde, addressed the requirements, benefits and concerns of students during the informational session.

One benefit that comes with a higher degree is a higher pay scale.

Willems, who is the MBA coordinator for the School of Business, said it is a simple matter of economics.

“Fewer people, higher salaries,” the more specialized your skills, the fewer individuals in your field, and the higher your starting salary, he said.

A graduate of a masters program earns approximately double what one would earn with an undergraduate degree, Willems said.

But is it worth the cost of lost opportunities?

Shinde said the opportunity cost is well worth it.

“I always say that if you plan it well you should be able to be on the job market in two years,” Shinde said.

In his presentation, Shinde broke down exactly what is expected from students looking to be accepted into a doctorate program.

These skills include having prior knowledge of research techniques and acquiring professional references and a high GPA, Shinde said. However, one of the most important factors is the Graduate Management Admissions Test, or GMAT, score.

The GMAT, which is a standardized test required for all graduate school admissions, is heavily considered by admissions committees.

“GMAT is very important for the Ph.D. program because you got applicants from Japan, Mexico and Sweden,” Shinde said. “How do you compare students from here to students from say, Mexico? So that’s the common denominator, the GMAT.”

Shinde said students would likely be surprised by the lack of difficulty in regards to work in a doctorate program. Recently, he has seen a rise in interest in graduate degree programs in his students.

But is it worth it?

The average graduate with a bachelor’s degree usually receives a salary of somewhere between $35,000 to $50,000, while someone who has obtained a doctorate has a starting salary of $120,000, with roughly two more years of school.

Courtney Anderson, a senior accounting major and President of Beta Alpha Ps1i, said obtaining a doctorate degree isn’t as terrifying as it seems.

“A lot of people think it takes ten years to finish a Ph.D,” Anderson said. “You can be finished with your masters and your Ph.D. in four years if you wanted to.”

Anderson, the on-campus student ambassador for the Illinois CPA Society, planned the event.

“A lot of people know more about the graduate program than they do the Ph.D’s, so that’s why I wanted to get the Ph.D. aspect involved,” she said.

In terms of expectations, Anderson wanted to give students an opportunity to consider all the choices available for education.

“I hope students get a better feel of what they want to do in the future,” Anderson said.

Mel Boydston can be reached at 581-7942 or [email protected]