Why a Graduate Degree?


William F. Slater, III


Managerial Communications – MIS238E COM515


Ms. Thompson


January 29, 2003





Since the late 1970s, when I first enrolled in a graduate degree program, and started but did not complete a graduate degree, I have always known that it was the right thing for me to do.  This paper examines the major reasons why obtaining a graduate degree is one of the key priorities in my life at this moment.


Why a Graduate Degree?

The calendar says that I am nearly 50 years old, so it is time to get busy and pursue a graduate degree before later becomes never.


I am tired of the regrets about not having a graduate degree.  I have been sorry over 1000 times since 1980 that I did not complete my Master of Arts degree in Business Management at the University of Lincoln that I started and worked on from August 1979 –  May 1980.  In November 2002, while writing recommendation letter for a friend who is also a former student, to get into a local graduate degree program, I actually openly lamented in writing about not having a graduate degree.  That was the catalyst.  Writing that lament into this letter was what woke me up and made me get busy to start on a path of pursuing a graduate degree. When I made the decision, I actually told myself that I was tired of saying, “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”


I am also tired of the limitations that not having a Graduate degree have brought me.  I am tired of being told, “Well, only those with graduate degrees can apply for this position…” So I need this degree to advance in my career.  I hope to teach in an academic venue in the future.  Though I have taught in certificate programs for the Illinois Institute of Technology, and other places, I cannot teach in a bachelor’s or graduate program without a graduate degree.


I used to console myself about not having a graduate degree, saying to myself, “Well, look how much you have accomplished without a graduate degree.”  The truth is that I could have accomplished a lot more if I had completed a graduate degree by now.  Since 1991, I have written many articles for many different publications, and  I plan to write much more, and I may even write a book or two someday.  Having a graduate degree will lend more credibility to me as an author than not having it.


There is a good possibility that if I have as much fun working on this graduate degree as I think I will, then I may start into a doctor of philosophy program in education or in computer information systems.


After having enjoyed worked in the information technology career field since July 1977, I have learned a great deal about what works and what doesn’t.  Working on a graduate degree in computer information systems will permit me to draw on the knowledge and experience I have, and to express this in various class assignments, while also learning many new things that I do not presently know.


Leadership: I want to be acknowledged as a leader in my career field, and I also want to give something back to the field.  In our society, most people respect the contributions of someone with an advanced degree over someone without an advanced degree. 


A graduate degree can be a key asset where the competition is tough in a job market where the unemployment rate for information technology professionals is high.  When I was a young officer in the U.S. Air Force, at Junior Officer Council meeting we had the opportunity to ask the guest lecturer, Colonel Richard Hogg, the secret to getting promoted and succeeding in the Air Force.  Because he had the experience of sitting on several Air Force promotions boards, we knew that his advice would be excellent.  This is what he said: “Look around and see what your best examples of your peers are doing.  If they are going to Squadron Officer’s School in residence, that’s what you should do.  If they are working on their Graduate degrees, then that’s what you should be doing… THEY are your competition…” This advice was not only golden, but it has helped me many times since my days in the Air Force.  Unfortunately, after leaving the Air Force, I didn’t heed the advice about the importance of a graduate degree, until now.


I used to give the excuses that I didn’t have enough time, nor enough money in my budget to do this on my own.  And in an era of ever-shrinking employee benefits, finding a company who would pay for a graduate degree was not easy.  However, the University of Phoenix has basically shredded my excuses by making this simple, both in the access to the classes (via online) and also with assistance in applying for financial aid to pursue this.


Finally, I want to pursue a graduate degree because I love my wife, and I need to equip myself to be able to provide for her material well being as well as I can.  Again, having a graduate degree will make this possible.  Besides, she has a master’s degree herself and she is very excited and supportive about my commitment to pursue and complete this MS in CIS program at the University of Phoenix.


During the weekend, after starting this online graduate program last week, I looked at the assignments ahead of me, and course materials (books, documents, and web pages), and I took a deep breath and said to myself, “Well, Bill, you are once again a college student.”  And I was happy with the way this realization made me feel.  Just as I completed my bachelor’s degree back in the 1970s, I know I can complete this graduate degree in computer information systems.  So I will work very hard to strive for excellence in this program, and I will enjoy it while I am doing it.