SFA graduate studies advance economic growth for individuals, businesses
By Dr. Pauline M. Sampson (pictured left)
As I close out my 44th year in higher education and end my four-year tenure as Stephen F. Austin State University’s dean of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, the far-reaching personal and professional benefits of advanced education seem to have never been more undeniable.
While the U.S. and world economy continue to heal from the damages of the pandemic, graduate studies consistently prove their worth as an economic boost for individuals, employers, communities and universities.
For graduates themselves, the perks of an advanced degree often translate to higher annual salaries, increased satisfaction with work, professional development, and resumes that are more enticing to employers. Individuals gaining advanced degrees are able to network with other students and leaders in their field, which opens doors to future jobs. And with only 13.1% of the U.S. population holding an advanced degree, according to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau figures, individuals who possess a master’s or doctoral degree stand out in applicant pools.
Advanced-degree holders also are able to increase their own lifetime learning and earning potential with graduate certificates and master’s or doctoral degrees. In fact, those with a master’s degree make $12,489 more annually than those with only a bachelor’s degree, and individuals with a doctoral degree earn approximately $30,000 more annually than those holding a bachelor’s degree, according to an April 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
SFA’s own graduates can attest to these facts. I’m proud to have watched so many SFA students receive their master’s or doctoral degree or end a certification program with promising raises and job opportunities offered out of the gate.
Graduates aren’t the only beneficiaries — employers also benefit from encouraging their employees to pursue more advanced studies. Because of frequent changes in the job market, employers gain much from having employees with higher skill levels and the ability to adapt to change. Employers also often experience greater employee loyalty when supporting advanced education because those efforts make it clear that their employees’ contributions matter.
Additionally, employer support for advanced education can be a huge cost saver. It’s less expensive to support professional development for current employees than to advertise, screen, interview and hire new ones. Internships also offer low-cost employment with a high return for students needing workforce experience. In turn, students bring new ideas, fresh perspectives and technological experience with them.
Communities also benefit from higher graduate school enrollment because their population is better educated. Quality of life in a community expands when more of its citizens achieve higher wages and thus greater buying power. A community like Nacogdoches that is known for supporting and valuing education also is often known for the quality and diversity of its workforce.
Now is the perfect time to start your advanced education journey at SFA. Our graduate school offers 44 master’s degrees, three doctoral degrees, and over a dozen certification programs for educators and working professionals.
You can learn more about our programs and application requirements at sfasu.edu/graduate.
Plan to attend the Nacogdoches County Chamber’s Eggs & Issues on Thursday, Oct. 28 at The Fredonia Hotel and Convention Center with a presentation, Graduate Studies Increase the Well Being of Communities, by Dr. Avant, SFA Interim Dean of Research and Graduate Studies. Contact the chamber of commerce at 936-560-5533 for breakfast meeting information.