The state of Washington has a shortage of people with graduate degrees.

Share story

Do you want to secure a better future for yourself and bring positive change to lives around the world? If so, you should think seriously about getting an advanced degree.

University researchers and scholars – both faculty and students – are making discoveries that address critical societal problems. Their efforts increase prosperity around the world and right here at home.

Many of the state’s leading industries, including agribusiness, aerospace, health care, software and construction, partner with universities to support advanced education and research. And they need employees with advanced degrees.

The state of Washington has a shortage of people with graduate degrees. Master’s graduates earn $11,000 more per year, on average, than those with bachelor’s degrees. Graduates with Ph.D. and professional degrees earn an average income of $92,000 to $100,000 per year.

Meld personal fulfillment with public good

When you study for an advanced degree, financial reward also meets the greater good. Consider the search for fossil fuel alternatives.

One of the most promising is hydrogen. Liquid hydrogen is used for energy storage, for rocket fuel, and in many industrial applications. It’s also an efficient, zero-emission automotive fuel. However, the lack of cost-effective fueling stations is a barrier to its adoption.

Ian Richardson’s graduate research in materials science and engineering is breaking that barrier down. He recently led a team that won an international design contest for transportable hydrogen fueling stations.

Richardson’s path to an advanced degree started with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering – and a making-and-doing mindset.

“I had a need to find out how things work, but I also wanted to actually build things, not just sit at a desk,” Richardson says. “WSU’s engineering program is very hands-on.”

Ian Richardson, a materials science and engineering Ph.D. student, seeks ways to replace fossil fuels with hydrogen. (WSU)
Ian Richardson, a materials science and engineering Ph.D. student, seeks ways to replace fossil fuels with hydrogen. (WSU)

Before his senior year, he sought graduate-school opportunities by reaching out to professors at several schools. One of them was Jacob Leachman at WSU. Dr. Leachman hired Richardson to help set up his new hydrogen energy research lab. And when the design contest was announced, Leachman asked Richardson to lead WSU’s project team.

Several of the team’s members have gone on to work in the state’s high-technology industries. Since then, Richardson has made a number of breakthroughs in the field of cold-fuel research.

Invest in your future

It’s natural to worry about the cost of further education. You may already have student loans from your undergrad degree, and there are always living expenses to consider. But an advanced degree can be a surprisingly affordable investment in your future.

Graduate students in most fields are eligible for full tuition waivers. Many also obtain research and teaching assistant positions, which come with a stipend. And research funding is available through various grant programs.

WSU doctoral student Joseph Taylor’s research on insect predators could result in more ecologically friendly, sustainable farming practices. (WSU)
WSU doctoral student Joseph Taylor’s research on insect predators could result in more ecologically friendly, sustainable farming practices. (WSU)

For instance, WSU entomology student Joseph Taylor has fully funded his research through an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and other grants. And his research assistant stipend defrays living expenses. He’s on track to graduate with a minimum of debt – and with great job prospects.

Forge a career you’ll love

Emily Hall pursued a Ph.D. in biological science because she loves working outdoors and enjoys the process of research. Her research on wetland ecosystems is helping to preserve biodiversity – and it takes her both into the lab and out into the wild places she loves.

In addition to her research work, Hall plans to take a hand in training the next generation of scientists.

“It just brings me back to my childhood and how exciting it was to flip over a log and find a frog. I’m so lucky to get to do this as a career.”

Washington State University offers 127 graduate and professional degree programs at five locations across the state: Pullman, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Spokane and Everett. The Global Campus delivers degree programs online. Explore locations and degree programs at gradschool.wsu.edu.