The majority of graduate students believe an advanced degree is necessary to their career aspirations, and borrowing money is the top way students are paying for graduate school today, according to a new survey.

Two-thirds of grad students (64 percent) believe an advanced degree is the new minimum standard level of education for any professional occupation, and 95 percent say an advanced degree is necessary to enter, advance, accelerate, or remain competitive in their chosen career, according to “How America Pays for Graduate School,” the study from Sallie Mae and market research company Ipsos.

Fifteen percent of graduate students said they expected a salary increase of $50,000 or more after graduation. Twenty-one percent expected an increase of $20,000-$29,999.

Sixty-three percent of surveyed students said they began a graduate program within one year of their undergrad degree. Fifty-seven attend graduate school full-time and 43 percent attend part-time.

(Next page: Breaking down the different ways students pay for graduate school)

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura

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