Graduate School

Why am I doing this to myself AGAIN?

If you’ve glanced at my About Me page, you know that I’m currently pursuing a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Instructional Design. The experience is inspiring and intellectually stimulating, but it’s also challenging. Really, really challenging.

Seriously, grad school is hard.

The quantity of work will test the time-management skills of even the most organized student, especially if that student is also balancing a job and a family. The depth of study is mentally exhausting. It can be overwhelming and isolating and can fill you with self-doubt.

But I knew how hard it would be before I started the program. I knew because I’d already been through it. In 2011, I completed a Master of Arts (M.A.) in International Educational Development. So, not only had I already earned a graduate degree, I’d already earned a graduate degree in education.

Isn’t a second Master’s degree in in education a bit redundant? Considering how hard grad school is, why am I doing this to myself…again?

“Education” is not one thing.

The most common question I got while pursuing an M.A. was, “What subject do you plan on teaching?” People often assumed that a degree in education meant that I planned becoming a teacher, but that wasn’t the case. There are many different areas of specialization that fall under the umbrella of “education.” For an overview of some options for pursing graduate study in an educational field, check out this article.

Complementary skills

My (almost) two degrees provide an example of how different two graduate degrees in education can be. My M.A. studies focused on addressing structural inequalities through education in formal and non-formal settings, and included a heavy theoretical component. My current M.Ed. studies are highly practical, focusing on instructional design skills and their application.

Although two degrees in education may seem redundant, the two programs actually have very little overlap. The instructional design skills that I’m learning in the M.Ed. program complement, rather than replicate, the theoretical knowledge and the research and planning skills that I learned in the M.A. program.

But why am I doing this?

Since completing an M.A. in International Educational Development, I’ve worked primarily in international educational publishing. I’ve had a front row seat to the ways in which technology has upended traditional modes of delivering instruction. I figured that training in instructional design skills could provide a little extra job security. More importantly, an M.Ed. in Instructional Design will also provide the knowledge and skills needed to engage with emerging models of teaching and learning. As challenging as it is, it’s exciting and totally worth the hard work.

If you’ve gone to grad school, what prompted you to pursue an advanced degree? If you’ve worked across multiple areas of education, how do they fit together? I would love to hear about your experience and compare notes.

Feature photo by howling red on Unsplash.