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One of the biggest decisions new college graduates face after earning their bachelor's degree is whether to continue their education with a graduate degree or enter the professional world without one. The Education Data Initiative reports that the average cost of a master's degree is $65,134, so it's important to consider the financial benefits depending on an individual's chosen field of study.
In a metro area like Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, a graduate degree would mean a resident earns $18,919 more than if they only had a bachelor's degree, according to a new study by SmartAsset.
The average annual income of an Austin resident with a bachelor's degree is $65,743, the study says, with graduate degree earners making $84,662 per year.
The average annual pay in Austin for someone with a graduate degree is greater than the national average of $72,000. The study further determined that on a national scale, a graduate degree nets individuals $16,000 more per year — a slightly lesser increase than in Austin.
"Amid the high expenses of education and ever-changing job markets, it’s important to weigh the opportunity costs of a graduate degree with the additional earning potential," the study's author wrote. "A graduate or professional degree nets an extra $484,000 over a career, on average... This assumes a 30 year career in a medium or large metro area."
SmartAsset's study used 2021 U.S. Census Bureau 1-Year ACS S1501 data to determine the income for individuals aged 25 and older with varying professional degrees in 281 of the biggest metropolitan areas.
The Texas city where a graduate degree nets a resident the most amount of money is Midland, with a massive $24,394 difference between graduate degree and bachelor's holders. Average graduate degree pay in the West Texas city is $90,559 versus a bachelor's degree pay of $66,165.
The metro that landed at the top of the national ranks is San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California. A bachelor's degree holder makes an average salary of $102,214 in the area, whereas a graduate degree holder increases those earnings more than $48,000, totaling $150,281.
The full report and its methodology can be found on smartasset.com.