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Earning a master's degree can enhance your resume and make you eligible for new jobs, promotions and an increase in pay. While many graduate programs offer scholarships and financial aid to help cover the cost of tuition, your employer might be willing to compensate some, or even all, of your graduate education. "U.S. News & World Report" reports that in 2012, more than 300 employers out of 550 surveyed said they offered some form of financial support to employees seeking assistance for graduate school. Talk to your boss or human resources representative about tuition reimbursement programs your company offers, and whether there are any restrictions you must adhere to while pursuing a master's degree.
Determine the Need for Graduate Education in Your Field
Before approaching your employer about the possibility of getting financial support for your master's degree, do some research on graduate programs in your area to determine if advancing your education would be beneficial to your job performance. For your employer to take you seriously, the graduate program you plan to pursue should be in line with your job requirements as well as your employer's needs. If you work in an accounting firm, for example, telling your boss that you want to pursue a master's in accounting or business administration will be taken more seriously than proposing a master's in fine arts.
Current Tuition Reimbursement Policies
Your company might already have a tuition reimbursement policy in place. If so, your HR director will be able to provide information. If tuition reimbursement is available from your employer, discuss specifics about the program with the HR rep. For example, you should ask how long you must be employed by your company after graduation to qualify for reimbursement, or if you will be allowed to attend certain classes during work hours.
Approaching Your Boss
If your company has a formal plan in place to financially assist you while pursuing your master's degree, you can always approach your boss directly. Create a written proposal that outlines the benefits of having a graduate degree in your field, and how furthering your education can give your company a competitive edge against rival businesses. Do some research on local tax laws and incentives. Your employer might be more willing to cover your tuition expenses if it can write off your tuition reimbursement as a training expense. In addition, your employer might qualify for state and local tax incentives by providing you with a tuition exemption.
Find an Employer That Will Reimburse Your Tuition
If your current employer won't pay for your graduate education, look into other companies in your field that offer graduate training opportunities to their employees. You might find this information on corporate websites, or by networking with others at industry or professional events. If you feel that earning your master's is an important step in advancing your career -- and you don't have the personal finances to pay for it yourself -- applying to other companies that will pay for your master's degree may be a worthwhile venture.
Anthony Oster is a licensed professional counselor who earned his Master of Science in counseling psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has served as a writer and lead video editor for a small, South Louisiana-based video production company since 2007. Oster is the co-owner of a professional photography business and advises the owner on hardware and software acquisitions for the company.
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