Photo Information

Graduate Record Exam test booklets sit on a bookshelf at the resource library in the Base Education Center aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. The GRE is a type of admissions test some graduate schools may require service members, families, Department of Defense civilians and retired military members to take before pursuing a post-baccalaureate education.

Photo by Cpl. Jo Jones

Go beyond your bachelor’s degree

8 Jul 2010 | Cpl. Jo Jones

You worked hard for years and have finally graduated with your bachelor’s degree.  You’re now ready to take that next step, but with the new piece of paper giving you a whole world of possibilities, what direction do you go?

Education does not have to end at the undergraduate level, and service members, families, Department of Defense civilians and retired military personnel aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River wanting to pursue master’s degree-level programs can simply visit their respective Base Education Centers to get started.

“In today’s society, what we deemed as being above (average), in terms of education, has gone to the next level – and a master’s (degree) is that next level,” said Pete Harris, the education chief for Lifelong Learning at the Camp Lejeune BEC.  “Any education is a plus, but to be competitive in today’s society, you have to step it up, and master’s degrees are the plus ups.”

Prospective students must apply and be admitted to a graduate school before they can begin their graduate studies.  A bachelor’s degree is required for admission.  Harris said schools may also ask students to provide a college transcript, admission test scores and essays.  Certain graduate programs may require students to complete a specific number of prerequisites before taking a graduate-level course. 

Because each graduate program has its own requirements, Harris highly recommended students talk to on-site academic counselors at the education centers who can help guide them toward their academic goals.  They can take entrance exams such as the Graduate Record Exam and the Graduate Management Admission Test at the education office’s testing center and spend time in the reference library researching graduate programs.  Harris also recommended students consult the DoD-approved website, Academic Explorer at, for additional guidance and information.

Faculty from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Webster University and Boston University teach graduate-level courses at Camp Lejeune’s BEC while the University of Phoenix and American Military University offer master’s-level distance education classes.  Harris said currently 276 students take the traditional route by learning in a classroom setting while 276 other students choose to pursue their post-baccalaureate education online.

Harris said many of the graduate students at Camp Lejeune are pursuing a Master of Business Administration while others are pursuing master’s degrees in management, leadership and education. 

Because of the number of educational incentives offered to military personnel and their dependents, many students use tuition assistance – $250 per credit hour – to pay for their courses.  However, Harris said some graduate-level classes may prove to be more expensive.  Students can use financial aid as well as the Montgomery or Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for the difference.

Amber Guenther, a military spouse and graduate student at Webster University, is pursuing her master’s degree in human resources management while working full-time as a bank manager.  Although both jobs keep her busy, Guenther said she has been able to apply everything she has learned in the classroom to her daily responsibilities.

“Taking these classes impacts my work every day,” said Guenther.  “There is not one thing in this class, and really this entire program, that I haven’t applied to my job.  I enjoy learning and the learning process.”

1st Lt. Ryan Kohrig, pay officer in charge at the disbursing office, Company A, Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCB Camp Lejeune, has been pursuing his master’s degree in leadership and management through Webster University for about one year.  Kohrig, who recently returned from a deployment to Haiti, said his graduate education has been teaching him how to be a better leader for his Marines.

“I owe it to the Marines to learn more about management, whether it is in a military or civilian sector,” said Kohrig. 

“I wanted to give back to the Marine Corps,” he added.

Kohrig encourages Camp Lejeune’s personnel to take advantage of the many educational opportunities available to them while stationed here.

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of an education,” said Kohrig.  “Whether you’re in (the Marine Corps) for four years or 40, take advantage of all the educational resources and opportunities available.”

Although graduate programs can be very rigorous, Harris said the students’ hard work pays off.

“(There is) the satisfaction of being in an adult environment, that with all the obstacles out there, you still manage to work around them and complete this journey,” said Harris. 

“There’s nothing sweeter than that,” he added.  “That kind of accomplishment, you can’t take away.”