Join a community of researchers and scholars working to solve critical societal problems and increase prosperity.

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If you’re looking for a way to secure a better future for yourself and the people around you, think seriously about getting a graduate degree.

Studying for an advanced degree brings you into contact with the kind of concentrated knowledge you would find nowhere else. You’ll learn from the brightest minds in your field.

You’ll join a community of researchers and scholars who are working to solve critical societal problems and increase prosperity. And in the process, you can bring positive change to those around you — both around the world and closer to home.

The local becomes global

Cornelius Adewale, a doctoral student at Washington State University, offers a great example of the global, local and personal benefits of advanced study.

Growing up in Nigeria, Adewale pursued education relentlessly, earning a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and starting his own successful farm. But he wanted more than personal success. He had seen deep poverty up close, and he wanted to help his fellow Nigerians find greater prosperity.

Agriculture employs 70 percent of Nigeria’s workforce, yet the food supply is inadequate to feed the nation’s burgeoning population. Adewale saw farms throughout Nigeria threatened by climate change and environmentally damaging farming methods. On his own farm, he implemented sustainable agriculture practices that improved food production, and he wanted to share those methods with others in his area.

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Thinking of going back to school? Visit the Advance Course special section for a useful mix of motivation and information for adults who want to continue their education toward a certificate, master’s or doctoral degree.

However, he realized that he needed to improve his methods and gather more knowledge before he could bring success to others.

So he searched online for graduate programs in organic agriculture. Up popped Washington State University, a worldwide leader in the field with an on-campus organic research farm. Decision made.

More affordable than you may think

Obtaining an advanced degree may seem expensive at first glance, but it can be surprisingly affordable.

Adewale didn’t have much money to work with when he started. But he actively sought university resources that made it possible for him to continue his education.

Most graduate programs can offer research, teaching and staff assistantships to students. These usually come with tuition waivers, health insurance and a stipend. Your university can also help you find scholarships, grants and fellowships that will help fund your studies and your research.

In addition, advanced degrees confer future financial rewards. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, people who earn graduate degrees have median lifetime earnings 22 percent higher than those with just bachelor’s degrees.

Bringing it back home

In the organic agriculture program at WSU, Adewale learned lab and field research techniques. He became part of the research team that developed an internet tool called OFoot, which estimates an organic farm’s environmental impact.

As a successful farmer, he already knew that healthy soil with plenty of organic matter is the key to plentiful crops. Now, thanks to his graduate studies and his experience as a researcher, he also knows the science behind soil health.

His postdoctoral project aims to make that science accessible to farmers back home. With OFoot as his inspiration, he has begun to develop a smartphone app that will help farmers evaluate the health of their soils.

All the farmer has to do is snap a picture. The app will pinpoint the location of the user and a mathematical algorithm will match the color shown in the photo with the soils in their region of Nigeria. Then it delivers a near-instant assessment, along with information on how to enrich the identified soil type. It’s the kind of simplicity that can only be achieved through deep knowledge and complex work behind the scenes.

Adewale recently won a $100,000 grant from the Bullitt Foundation, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that promotes environmental stewardship. The grant will help fund development and distribution of his new app.

He is bringing his neighbors and his nation the help they need. Eventually, his work could help improve farming practices worldwide. And graduate education is the springboard that’s making it all possible.

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 programs at gradschool.wsu.edu.