Motives to study a Master's degree

Motives to study a master’s degree  


Studying requires a lot of motivation, at least when you are aiming for better grades and not just attempting to pass the course. During my BBA studies back in 2017-ish I quickly noticed that not all of my peers were as motivated as I was. This could be seen in group assignments in particular, but of course also when looking at the attendance in lectures for instance.  

I can understand that the motivation and motives to study were different: I was already at the age of 30 when I started my BBA studies and most of my peers were around 18 to 20. What took me by surprise when starting my MBA studies last autumn in another university of applied sciences was that the different levels of motivation were still showing: some were definitely more motivated than others. 

This left me wondering why people are studying. What are the motives that drive one to apply to study, be it a bachelor’s or a master’s degree?  

Why Study Further  

As for all studies, there can be various motives to study a master’s degree. According to a survey by GMAC, of all the master’s degrees the Master of Business Administration is the most popular one. With an MBA comes a variety of benefits in working life, but the motivations for enrolling into the program can be different from one another (Hutton 2016) 

Many professionals may have a background of leadership in the workplace, but lack a “formal qualification”. This is one of the main motivations to get a higher education: to gain more professional credibility. (Hutton 2016) And this is exactly why I decided it was time to get an MBA. I knew that I would boost my self confidence that I most likely would need in the future, if applying for new jobs. What do the studies then actually give you? 

For example, an MBA gives us a deeper and broader understanding of business and tools for effective decision-making. This alone can be a great motivation to complete a degree. (Hutton 2016) This wasn’t one of the initial reasons for me to apply to study my master’s, but I’ve noticed that the studies have “forced” me to take a step back and just stop to evaluate my business.  

Leadership roles and responsibility  

Studying an MBA is seen to be closely linked to all things related to one’s career progression. This can include things such as taking in a new role or having increased responsibility. Changes in remuneration are also a part of motives to study further. Studying a master’s degree improves your position in the job market and increases competitiveness. When you have a master’s, you are more likely to get leadership responsibilities and roles. (Hutton 2016)  

My own motivation to study the degree at this point of my career was to get something to back up my work life experience with it – in case I would need to start looking for other jobs at some point. I see the degree as a safety net: combining the degree and my work experience, I can apply for better positions in the future.  

I wanted to study the degree in English since I had studied my BBA also in English, and in addition my entire work experience after graduation has been coming from an international business environment.  

But did I think that an MBA would help me with my career directly, being an entrepreneur with great clients and good positions in interesting projects? Not really, not at the moment at least.  

Impacts on salary and the labour market performance after graduation 

Five years after starting at University of Applied Sciences, the participants’ wage income is about EUR 2 900 higher than the income of the reference group (Böckerman 2019) When it comes to me as an entrepreneur and my expectations on getting a higher salary or compensation after the degree: I don’t see any significant changes here in the upcoming years.  

Career tracking of graduates shows that a master’s degree is beneficial for both the students and the work communities. Students improve their competitiveness, advance in their careers and increase their salaries. The work community gains the latest knowledge and tools to improve its operations. The thesis, or development project, is typically carried out in the workplace and requires research skills and the application of researched knowledge. (Parkkinen 2020)  

To me, I have already noticed the benefits of this education, especially here in Xamk where the courses are pretty challenging. I have already started to rethink my entire business model and where I want to take my business but also how I can get there.  

The labour market performance of graduates can be assessed both in terms of post-graduation employment and earnings. In the short term, the returns to master’s programmes are on average higher for women than for men, and the returns to education are clearly higher in health and social work than in business or engineering. (Böckerman 2019)  

According to recent studies, in terms of employment, no economically significant effects are observed, as employment among graduates is already high before they enter education. The qualification is almost always obtained in the context of regular employment. (Böckerman 2019) This is easy to understand since most of us master’s students already have a job. 

Career change  

When you’ve been working in a particular job in a particular field for a while, it’s only natural that you want something new. It’s quite common that you are specialised in a particular job and long for a different kind of job. This is one of the clear motivations for studying a master’s degree. For some, it can be a gateway to completely new tasks and new fields. Similarly, a degree can help you to start your own business. (Hutton 2016)  

I personally don’t believe my MBA will have huge impacts on my career right after graduation but on the other hand, this education will broaden the way I see myself, my expertise and my potential.  

A higher degree is a clever investment  

A master’s degree is a worthwhile investment in many ways. Here in Finland, for Finns, EU/EEA-citizens and for those that are permanently residing in Finland, studying a higher education is completely free. If you are not in any of these groups, you can check Xamk’s tuition fees here

Studying a higher degree requires motivation, time and energy from us students. The one-year, one-and-a-half-year master’s degree is a degree mainly for people already in the workplace, where you can either build on what you have already learned or take a completely new direction in your career. A higher degree gives you the same qualifications for public office as a university degree. (Parkkinen 2020)  

Here in Finland, we are able to start studying for a master’s degree after a certain period of employment. Typically, higher education degrees are directly conditioned on work experience. In practice, this means that people who complete a degree are at the same time also involved in the world of work. 

Completing the course assignments can definitely be difficult when you have your work, possibly a family, hobbies and other things in your life that require your time and attention. In other words, time management skills are now very important. 

To me, the benefits of getting my master’s is clear already in the very early stage of my studies. Who knows what types of positions I will start going for in the upcoming years, or where my business is when I graduate. What is certain already at this point is that deciding to get the MBA was an excellent choice: the degree will boost my confidence, get me a deeper understanding of my business and career and open new doors.  


Hutton, L. 2016. 4 Common Motivations for Studying an MBA. Australian Institute of Business. Available at: [Accessed 16 February 2022]  

Böckerman, P. August 26 2019. Labore. Ylempi AMK-koulutus voi nostaa ansioita tuhansilla euroilla. Available at: [Accessed 16 February 2022]  

Parkkinen, T. February 26 2020. Tampere University of Applied Sciences. Ylempi ammattikorkeakoulu on kannattava sijoitus. Available at: [Accessed 16 February 2022]