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I have an undergrad from a reputable university. I am doing well. My friends from University are pursuing more education from other countries. I have two options,

  1. Quit my day job and start doing a masters from Germany and go into debt doing it.
  2. Continue my day job and start a masters here in Pakistan and do online courses from Coursera and other big universities to bridge the gap for free.

I understand the value of a masters from Germany would be much more than a masters from Pakistan. How can I evaluate whether this is a good investment in my future?

  • I think this question would be best suited for the Academia SE. – Michael Feb 15 '17 at 16:37
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    @MichaelC.: I thought before posting. Academia SE frowns upon questions weighting money and academic qualification. – Fahad Uddin Feb 15 '17 at 18:10
  • If you want to go into academia, there have been questions on Academia.SE about prestige of graduate school. If you want to go into industry, yes, that they would probably close as off-topic. – mkennedy Feb 15 '17 at 18:34
  • Proposed rephrase from "what should I do", which is clearly off-topic, to "how can I decide", which is marginal -- it comes close to being a shopping question -- but may be on the right side if the line. – keshlam Feb 15 '17 at 19:52
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What should I do?

Weigh your options and decide which education investment lines up better with your goals. Some of the costs from pursuing a degree at the more reputable university may include:

  • Loss of income from your day job
  • Higher tuition expenses
  • Higher cost of living while you are studying
  • Interest from debts incurred while pursuing this degree

However there are probably some benefits to pursuing a degree at this university:

  • Employers may weight this degree more heavily than a degree from your local school, increasing your chances of landing a better job after graduation
  • You may enjoy attending this university more than your local university
  • You might gain more professional contacts at this university

You will know best which of these apply to you in addition to any pros or cons not mentioned. You need to evaluate each one in order to make a decision.

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Strictly from an ROI perspective, this is likely very dependent on your field. Some masters degrees (quant finance, business, engineering) will be well worth the debt, since a degree from the right university will yield a respectable ROI, whereas other degrees/fields (philosophy, fine arts, etc) will be basically a waste of money.

Regardless of the field you can input your information into an ROI calculator and see what you get. I typically err on the side of using the lowest average reported salary for the degree programs you're considering (self reported salary data is notoriously inflated).

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I did some research and I found a very interesting article that had exactly my case as an example ( person has an undergrad from a nice University in the relative field and wants to do a masters to get a job in a high tech company). Here is the source.

Consider “Susan:” She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in Computer Science, and is considering applying to a master’s program at UW or an equivalent program. She’s hoping afterwards to land a job at a top tech company. So far, she’s only been able to get jobs with startups and smaller-name companies.

A master’s degree probably wouldn’t make sense for Susan. It might help her to land a job at a top tech company, but she could also do that by working at a startup for a year or two and spending some time developing her skill set through personal projects. If she did it that way, she’d probably be a lot richer in the end.

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