Investment Strategy: Selecting and Funding Your Graduate Program

Contact Us

Master's in Learning & Organizational Change

1800 Sherman Avenue
Suite 3500
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University

Phone: 847/491-7376

MSLOC Staff In-Person Office Hours - Monday - Thursday 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

MSLOC Staff Remote Office Hours - Friday 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

Email: msloc@northwestern.edu

Investment Strategy: Selecting and Funding Your Graduate Program

Determining the value of a graduate program—in general and in comparison to other program options—and addressing associated costs can prompt a lot of questions. Ifs. Whats. Whens. Hows. In engaging with hundreds of folks who are making or have made those decisions, we see that three big questions lie at the core of each grad school choice:

 

  • Outcomes: Why do I want to do this? In other words, what do I want to learn and what do I want to do with what I learn?
  • Investment: Do I have the capacity—financial, personal, professional—to take this program on?
  • Return: Will my investment in this program drive the impact and return I expect?

Most questions about graduate school paths fall under, or follow from, those three big questions. Below, we share some of those key considerations and some of our answers at Northwestern's Master's of Learning and Organizational Change (MSLOC) program.


Outcomes

Before pursuing a graduate program, it is important that you understand what you are looking to get out of it. This involves asking questions about the program as well as your professional goals, including:

  • What are my learning goals?
  • What are my career goals?
  • What do I want to learn about, and how?
  • What is the program design and curriculum?
  • What are the learning formats and delivery methods used, and how do those match up with my preferred learning modes?
  • What network of fellow professionals—students, alumni, faculty—do I wish to develop?
  • What career moves will I be equipped to make during or after this program?

Our MSLOC curriculum sits at the intersections of people, organizational performance, leadership, learning, change management, and design thinking. As it overlaps disciplines, the program is ideal for a variety of learners and practitioners. Both those wanting to focus their work in these practice areas, as well as those who want to improve people and organizational performance in any role, find their leadership and practice significantly strengthened.

MSLOC allows students to set and adjust their pace as they go, pursuing the degree and/or certificates as a full-time or part-time student. Our course design combines live virtual interaction with on-campus intensive sessions, allowing students to study from anywhere without sacrificing real-time community engagement. No matter your program or pace, we offer support for you to advance your learning and career goals. To find out more and get your questions answered, we invite you to attend an upcoming information session.


Investment

We discussed above how important it is that you understand what you are looking to get out of a graduate program. Here, we ask questions to help determine what you can and want to put into a program, including:

  • How much time do I need to invest, in terms of weekly coursework and years to finish?
  • How will I fit time for coursework into my work, family, and social life, to ensure I can enjoy and benefit from the learning experience?
  • How much does tuition cost, and what other program, material, or travel costs will apply?
  • What support is available to fund my graduate work?
  • Will I qualify for financial support?
  • Are there supplemental on-campus work opportunities, such as Graduate Assistantships or Teaching Assistantships, available?
  • Are there supplemental off-campus work opportunities, such as internships or contract work, available? What support is there to find and win those roles?

At Northwestern MSLOC, the flexible rigor exemplified by our curriculum applies to students’ personal investments as well. We work with students to shape program plans and funding approaches that address, and adjust to, your individual needs.

Available funding support goes beyond student loans. MSLOC offers partial tuition scholarships, graduate assistantships, and support for non-tuition costs such as classroom meeting costs. Such support can help you get started and keep you going. In addition to financial aid and scholarships, we support students in finding paid work to help fund their full- or part-time coursework while building their career pivot. Our employer partners and alumni recruit MSLOC students year-round (not just during summer) for temporary and permanent positions in their organizations.

To maximize access to funding opportunities, we recommend you apply in time to be eligible for scholarship consideration: April 10, 2022 is the priority deadline for a Fall 2022 start. If you have questions about funding an MSLOC degree and/or certificate program, join us for a live virtual Q&A session on February 24 or March 15. Sign up here, using the calendar arrows to find the session that works for you.


Return

Graduate programs are an investment in your future that you should expect to pay dividends. Before applying to a graduate program, you should understand what opportunities will emerge from it.

  • What career possibilities will expand or open for me?
  • What career outcomes can I expect, as measured by firm, role/title, compensation, business launch, etc.?
  • How will my network and community of practice be enhanced?
  • What academic and career support will I have access to, during and after my program?
  • What impact will I have, as an individual contributor, people manager, strategist, consultant, change leader, etc.?

Northwestern MSLOC prioritizes student, alumni, and community support as a core part of our mission to equip leaders with the vision, knowledge, and skills to facilitate sustainable, positive organizational transformation. Ours is a mission that goes well beyond class sessions and courses. In partnership with MSLOC, your investment in yourself will see great returns for your career, your life, and your roles as a leader and collaborator.

During her time as a full-time MSLOC student, MSLOC 2021 graduate Jenny Nance was an MSLOC graduate assistant, using her expertise in instructional design and program management to advance MSLOC’s career services programming. Jenny spent the first decade of her career as a high school English teacher, team leader, and instructional designer. She entered the MSLOC program to support and expedite a pivot into people and change work, with an intention to pursue a consulting role after graduation. In addition to being a graduate assistant, Jenny pursued and won several contract opportunities in learning and development, people and culture, and organizational development, where she drew on her prior and new expertise.

 “The outcomes of my investment have paid significant dividends as I’ve been able to career pivot within a reasonable amount of time and to a higher-paying job than I had prior to my time with MSLOC. These opportunities would not have been available to me without the connections to Northwestern, the degree, and the excellent instruction and coaching I got from the program. The relationships, of course, are priceless.” Jenny is currently a Senior Associate – Workforce Transformation at PwC.


Build Your Own Investment Strategy and Action Plan

If you haven’t yet created a strategy for yourself, take the first step by answering the above questions. Begin by visualizing what you would like your professional life to include after you graduate. Then, work backward from that vision to answer the outcome and investment questions.

We’re here to help with all of the above and more, whether you’re sure you want to pursue MSLOC or any graduate program. If you would like to schedule a coaching or Q&A session with an advisor, take two minutes to complete our Request for Information form and we’ll schedule time to talk. We look forward to playing whatever role we can in helping you achieve your learning and professional goals.

Contact Us

Master's in Learning & Organizational Change

1800 Sherman Avenue
Suite 3500
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University

Phone: 847/491-7376

MSLOC Staff In-Person Office Hours - Monday - Thursday 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

MSLOC Staff Remote Office Hours - Friday 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

Email: msloc@northwestern.edu