What are the costs associated with pursuing graduate school?

Here’s a question a student asked:

What are the cost associated with pursuing grad school? How did you pay for your Masters?

Here’s my answer:

I paid for my Masters with blood, sweat, and tears. Lots of blood, sweat and tears.

I was quite fortunate that my department was willing to award me with a tuition fee waiver. So I only had to pay misc. fees. That said, when I did my Masters, I hated not having an income (because I earned a full-time salary for 3-4 years before that). So I ended up working 3 part-time jobs during my Masters (I taught 250 students as a TA, while simultaneously running a PR campaign for a research centre, AND edited a science book and wrote the memoirs for the WW2 veteran).

I almost died from having too much on my plate. And I failed my Masters thesis examination the first time round because of it. But I don’t regret that one bit. I quite enjoyed the valuable experiences I gained.

You can find out the cost of a Masters from Google. The prices change from time to time. It’s easier to get funded for a research Masters by the university itself. That being said, there are foundations and research institutes around the world that are willing to fund your Masters/PhD especially if your work aligns with their mission. You should Google to find out what’s available, and then write in to them about it.

The costs of pursuing grad school goes beyond dollars and cents. The one thing that will bother you a lot is seeing your peers advance far ahead from you. As a student, you won’t have much money, and so you won’t be able to do a lot of things, like marry or buy a house, etc. I know it’s easy to say “don’t compare yourself with them,” but from experience, you sometimes can’t help but feel that you’re lagging behind. Some people can’t cope with that. So you must be prepared for this.

Also, not earning enough can get in the way of relationships. Especially if you are preparing for marriage, the drop of income (or just not earning any income) can create a certain inequalities in who’s paying for what. And this can strain the relationships a lot (this happened to a friend I knew).

Author: Jonathan Y. H. Sim

Jonathan Sim is an Instructor with the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about teaching and he continues to research fun and innovative ways of engaging students to learn effectively. He has been teaching general education modules to a diverse range of undergraduate students and adult learners at the University.

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