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  #1  
Old 09-12-2009, 12:21 AM
astro astro is offline
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Are the salary & career expectations of people with master's degrees realistic?

In this thread is a complaint that I've heard expressed IRL by several people with master's degrees, especially education and social work graduates, that they "only" get paid a middle class wage, and even so a non-degreed person often makes a comparable wage. There is often a plaintive tone and sub-text to this complaint that it simply isn't fair that this should be so.

I don't want to sound unsympathetic, but (IMO) in 2009 having a masters degree is simply not that big a deal. The workforce is lousy with people with master's degrees. Good on you that you decided to go the extra mile and get it, but I think that any expectation that this should be, as a matter of fairness and justice, opening significant salary and occupational doors simply isn't justified. Masters degrees simply aren't that special anymore.
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  #2  
Old 09-12-2009, 01:18 AM
even sven even sven is offline
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I think you are misinterpreting.

The thread is about how to attract more quality teachers into the profession. The complaints are not "teachers deserve more money because they have master's degrees" as much as "of the jobs that require a master's degree, teaching is among the lowest paid." This means that the best and brightest are probably going to choose something else.

I think degree bloat is a huge problem in our society. We have people with undergrad degrees doing jobs that could be done with a high school diploma. We have people with Master's doing things that could be done by any college graduate. We have people investing more and more time and money into an education system that is providing less and less in return. It seems like in a few years we will need to go to school until we are 30 and be 70,000 in debt to get a job as a secretary.

That said, I'm applying to grad school now because I don't want my career opportunities to be limited. Everything in this world is a gamble, but of course I hope that investing tens of thousands of dollars of two years of my life leads to some kind of return. Would you honestly expect me not to?
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Old 09-12-2009, 03:23 AM
Iridescent Orb Iridescent Orb is offline
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Sometimes people forget (or willfully ignore) the fact that all Masterís Degrees are not created equal. The field of study and institution attended both have a significant impact on a graduateís marketability. It is unrealistic of the Education graduate from a small, largely unknown school to expect to make the same money as the MBA from Harvard. (Iím not commenting on whether or not this is fair Ė Iím just saying thatís the way it is.)
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Old 09-12-2009, 03:32 AM
cerberus cerberus is offline
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Income is driven by supply and demand. The reason that a person with an M.Eng. out earns a person with a MSW is that, in general, the supply of people capable of earning the M.Eng. is smaller than that of the MSW, and that there is considerable demand for engineers above and beyond social workers.

Income is a matter of the economic value of the job, not a value judgment on the person.

If Richard Feynman had gone into Early Childhood Education or Social Work, he'd be utterly Nobel Prize free and completely obscure.

Engineers out earn general social workers and teachers because for every person who can master mathematics and apply it to engineering problems, there are thousands of people who cannot.
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Old 09-12-2009, 07:21 AM
Cubsfan Cubsfan is online now
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I think MBAs have lost almost all value because there are so many easy ways to get one that everyone gets one. I've heard of 6 month MBA programs for Christs sake. The majority of people who do hiring rarely look at the school any more, just look to see if youhave the MBA box checked.

Engineering on the other hand gets significantly harder in grad school and is very specialized so they are generally worth more.
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Old 09-12-2009, 08:25 AM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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Master's degrees in many fields aren't a ticket to anything much. English literature, librarian, social work, comparative lit--you're never gonna get rich. (Teachers make good money compared to librarians.) If a solid salary is what you wanted, you should have chosen something else.

--Dangermom, MLIS
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Old 09-12-2009, 08:48 AM
Kyla Kyla is offline
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Originally Posted by Cubsfan View Post
I think MBAs have lost almost all value because there are so many easy ways to get one that everyone gets one. I've heard of 6 month MBA programs for Christs sake. The majority of people who do hiring rarely look at the school any more, just look to see if youhave the MBA box checked.
Well, first of all, let me say that I am not an MBA student, nor am I interested in getting an MBA. But I'm a grad student at a university with a top MBA program, and I have some friends that are working on their MBAs. And I would disagree here. First of all, what kind of resumes are you submitting that there's a box to check? The university is usually right there next to the degree, it would be hard to miss. Second, companies actually come to the business school at my university to recruit. A lot. The business students are easy to pick out from the rest of us schlubs because they're always wearing suits, as they have a year-long series of recruitment interviews and meetings. (First year students go through the process too, looking for summer internships.) There's also a really strong alumni network that helps a lot in getting work. Even in this economy, people I know who graduated from my school's MBA program have had a pretty easy time of getting really good, well-paying jobs.

Maybe the usefulness of an MBA drops off if it's from a middling school, or whatever, but imho, it's inaccurate to say that it's a valueless degree.
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Old 09-12-2009, 08:48 AM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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Well, I'm an MSW student in social work, and I did sufficient research to have a reasonable notion of how much I am going to make after I graduate. (Median starting salary for a graduate of my program is $45k.) I didn't make my choice based on expected salary (uh, obviously), but based on what I would like to do with my life.

I'm not thrilled that my profession is so undervalued, but I know why it is, and I would like to contribute to changing that. Part of the problem, I am already learning, is declassification, meaning that ''social worker'' covers everyone from a high school graduate in a temporary service position to a D.S.W. who graduated from Columbia. We suffer from a fractured identity, not just in educational preparation but in fieldwork as well -- there are social workers teaching in universities, there are social workers in our U.S. Congress, and there are social workers providing mental health services, so we have a situation in which it is increasingly difficult to define what it means to be a social worker.

I chose social work for a number of reasons, none of which were remotely related to how much money I would make. Because my husband is a graduate student in clinical psychology I saw firsthand what that would entail. I'm interested in social justice on a broad level, not merely mental health treatment. I'm as liable to go into policy or research as clinical work, so social work was the correct choice for me. It is fascinating to see the differences between the psychology track and the social work track in a firsthand and parallel way. They are two completely different fields, so I find it odd that they both happen to intersect at the mental health level. It's even odder that social workers and psychologists seem to be equally as effective in this particular role. (I have a theory, but that's a whole other thread.) I chose to become involved in social work because of what I perceive to be serious flaws and a lack of scientific rigor in the execution and implementation of programs and treatment for the mentally ill. Nowadays the dominant professional standard in both psychology and social work seems to have fallen to, ''Well, most of my clients say I've really helped them, so X treatment must be effective.''

If I have any resentment at all as a social worker, it is toward the idea that there is no discernible professional distinction between systematic program evaluation and working in the soup kitchen.

I figure if anyone drops thousands of dollars on a higher education, he or she has a right to bitch if they don't get some return on the investment. But singling out master's degrees for unrealistic expectations is misleading. There are a lot of people with Ph.Ds pissing and moaning about how little money they make. And that's fine, if you ask me. I don't think it's unreasonable to feel a little miffed that your years of hard work didn't have a huge payoff monetarily. There was a time when getting an education virtually guaranteed you a good job, and that's no longer the case, but a large swath of society is still pretending like it is. Kids are being misled. I don't think that's right.

That said, I may very well go on to get my Ph.D. or D.S.W., but I won't have many expectations with regards to an increased salary.

Last edited by Spice Weasel; 09-12-2009 at 08:50 AM..
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  #9  
Old 09-12-2009, 10:24 AM
Cubsfan Cubsfan is online now
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Originally Posted by Kyla View Post
Well, first of all, let me say that I am not an MBA student, nor am I interested in getting an MBA. But I'm a grad student at a university with a top MBA program, and I have some friends that are working on their MBAs. And I would disagree here. First of all, what kind of resumes are you submitting that there's a box to check? The university is usually right there next to the degree, it would be hard to miss. Second, companies actually come to the business school at my university to recruit. A lot. The business students are easy to pick out from the rest of us schlubs because they're always wearing suits, as they have a year-long series of recruitment interviews and meetings. (First year students go through the process too, looking for summer internships.) There's also a really strong alumni network that helps a lot in getting work. Even in this economy, people I know who graduated from my school's MBA program have had a pretty easy time of getting really good, well-paying jobs.

Maybe the usefulness of an MBA drops off if it's from a middling school, or whatever, but imho, it's inaccurate to say that it's a valueless degree.
Checking the box is a figure of speech that basically says "I've got one". What I meant by "they don't check your school" is that they don't look into or care about the quality or heritage of the school you went to. They just care that you have the MBA.

Just curious but are you in the workforce or have you been in school forever because those are fairly common knowledge.
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  #10  
Old 09-12-2009, 11:17 AM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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I don't have a substantive comment right now, but the NY Times ran a series of articles this summer on the value of a master's degree. The general verdict is that engineering and business degrees are the only ones that really work out financially, but there are other reasons to pursue a master's in other fields.
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  #11  
Old 09-12-2009, 11:17 AM
Kyla Kyla is offline
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Originally Posted by Cubsfan View Post
Checking the box is a figure of speech that basically says "I've got one". What I meant by "they don't check your school" is that they don't look into or care about the quality or heritage of the school you went to. They just care that you have the MBA.

Just curious but are you in the workforce or have you been in school forever because those are fairly common knowledge.
No, I worked for eight years between getting my BA and going back to grad school. But don't worry, that comment wasn't condescending at all! I was actually joking a bit about the literal checking of the box, but I still think I disagree. Big name schools are still going to catch an employer's eye. I have a friend who recently got an MBA from a small school. She's been looking for a job for months and hasn't found anything. More recently than that, the husband of one of my best friends graduated from the MBA program at my school. He was offered a job at Household Name Company A, but lost the offer due to his non US citizen status (if you follow business news, you can probably guess what company this is, it was a bit of a scandal when they withdrew all of their job offers to non-citizens), then got an offer with Household Name Company B, where he's currently working, but he was recently offered another job with Household Name Company C, which he's going to take.

/anecdote time
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  #12  
Old 09-12-2009, 11:53 AM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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I don't have a substantive comment right now, but the NY Times ran a series of articles this summer on the value of a master's degree. The general verdict is that engineering and business degrees are the only ones that really work out financially, but there are other reasons to pursue a master's in other fields.
Well, the M.S.W., for instance, is pretty much a requirement if you want to do clinical work, or if you want a decent paying job in the field. In terms of basic quality of life, there's a big difference between $35k and $45k annually. That $45k could mean medical insurance, a car that doesn't break down, and a roof over your head.

Last edited by Spice Weasel; 09-12-2009 at 11:54 AM..
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  #13  
Old 09-12-2009, 12:14 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Originally Posted by dangermom View Post
Master's degrees in many fields aren't a ticket to anything much. English literature, librarian, social work, comparative lit--you're never gonna get rich. (Teachers make good money compared to librarians.) If a solid salary is what you wanted, you should have chosen something else.

--Dangermom, MLIS
Not true everywhere - I started my librarian job at the same time as a friend started teaching with a masters', and we started at a very similar salary but I get a raise every year, so I outstripped him fairly quickly. Of course, many libraries don't pay as well as mine.
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Old 09-12-2009, 12:54 PM
Smeghead Smeghead is online now
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In the biological sciences, a master's is literally worthless, in my experience. I saw many many job listings asking for a master's or two years' work experience. So you can pay for school for those two years or get paid to work those two years, and end up in the same spot. It's PhD or nothing. A bachelor's only gets you through the door and qualifies you for jobs that would be high-school diploma level in most fields.
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Old 09-12-2009, 02:46 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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Originally Posted by ultrafilter View Post
I don't have a substantive comment right now, but the NY Times ran a series of articles this summer on the value of a master's degree. The general verdict is that engineering and business degrees are the only ones that really work out financially, but there are other reasons to pursue a master's in other fields.
Many school districts give an automatic pay increase to a teacher who obtains a master's degree.
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  #16  
Old 09-12-2009, 03:02 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
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Originally Posted by cerberus View Post
Income is driven by supply and demand. The reason that a person with an M.Eng. out earns a person with a MSW is that, in general, the supply of people capable of earning the M.Eng. is smaller than that of the MSW, and that there is considerable demand for engineers above and beyond social workers.

Income is a matter of the economic value of the job, not a value judgment on the person.

If Richard Feynman had gone into Early Childhood Education or Social Work, he'd be utterly Nobel Prize free and completely obscure.

Engineers out earn general social workers and teachers because for every person who can master mathematics and apply it to engineering problems, there are thousands of people who cannot.
Precisely.

The price of a loaf of bread is determined by supply and demand. Likewise, a salary is a price. Your salary will primarily be determined by supply and demand.
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Old 09-12-2009, 04:52 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Originally Posted by Cubsfan View Post
Checking the box is a figure of speech that basically says "I've got one". What I meant by "they don't check your school" is that they don't look into or care about the quality or heritage of the school you went to. They just care that you have the MBA.

Just curious but are you in the workforce or have you been in school forever because those are fairly common knowledge.
MBA here.

That is absolutely false. If you are looking to get into a lucrative career in investment banking or management consulting with a firm like Bain or McKinsey, an MBA from the "right" school is essential. You can also see from this chart that there is are significant differences is starting salary, salary growth and lifetime compensation depending on where you went to school.

Now you might say, well that's only for the small percent of MBAs who want to work on Wall Street or some white shoe consulting firm. Well, that happens to be a significant number of the MBAs who go to Harvard or Wharton or Stern. Other MBAs, not so much.

And if anything, I think those Salary.com or Payscale surveys understate what people earn. Because there are (or were) a lot of MBAs on Wall Street earning a lot more than $200 k with their bonuses.
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Old 09-12-2009, 05:46 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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Degrees only help if you SPECIFICALLY need that type of education to do your work.

MBAs are a dime a dozen. Therefore the jobs that NEED an MBA will be very selective about which MBA they take.

Masters are needed for such things a specialties in psychology or social work for instance.

A lot of Masters are earned "part time" as such and are earned over a period of years. If a person is taking ten years to complete a masters, he is thinking he only needs the degree to enhance his wallet OR he truly loves the subject and enjoys studying it.
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Old 09-12-2009, 06:16 PM
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I know a lot of community college instructors and professors who got their MBA just because the job requires a masters, and it's the easiest one to get (no thesis, plenty of online and accelerated programs, etc.) They teach completely unrelated fields like English, film, geography, etc.
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Old 09-12-2009, 07:38 PM
I Love Me, Vol. I I Love Me, Vol. I is offline
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Call me whatever you want to call me but, I've always thought of a person with a Master's Degree, at least from most American universities, as being only at the education level that a person with a Bachelor's Degree should be--and perhaps would be-- if it weren't for grade inflation and other factors that cheapen the value of most college degrees.

That leaves a U.S.graduate with a Bachelor's at about the level that most Asian or European high school graduates are. I think it's rather sad, but I guess college ends up being just another for-profit industry here.

Last edited by I Love Me, Vol. I; 09-12-2009 at 07:42 PM..
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  #21  
Old 09-12-2009, 07:40 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Call me whatever you want to call me but, I've always thought of a person with a Master's Degree, at least from most American universities, as being only at the education level that a person with a Bachelor's Degree should be--and perhaps would be if it weren't for grade inflation and other factors that cheapen the value of most college degrees.

That leaves a U.S.graduate with a Bachelor's at about the level that most Asian or European high school graduates are. I think it's rather sad, but I guess college ends up being just another for-profit industry here.
I would be curious as to how you would justify such a claim. Especially since a large number of Asians and Europeans specifically come to this country to attend college and grad school.

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Old 09-12-2009, 08:01 PM
astro astro is offline
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Originally Posted by I Love Me, Vol. I View Post
Call me whatever you want to call me but, I've always thought of a person with a Master's Degree, at least from most American universities, as being only at the education level that a person with a Bachelor's Degree should be--and perhaps would be-- if it weren't for grade inflation and other factors that cheapen the value of most college degrees.

That leaves a U.S.graduate with a Bachelor's at about the level that most Asian or European high school graduates are. I think it's rather sad, but I guess college ends up being just another for-profit industry here.
I've heard the exact opposite, that, unlike our secondary school education, US grad schools are head and shoulders above most foreign grad schools, and that most (not all) foreign graduate school education in science and technical subjects is distinctly shabby compared to the quality of US grad school educations.

Last edited by astro; 09-12-2009 at 08:02 PM..
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Old 09-12-2009, 08:36 PM
even sven even sven is offline
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Originally Posted by I Love Me, Vol. I View Post
Call me whatever you want to call me but, I've always thought of a person with a Master's Degree, at least from most American universities, as being only at the education level that a person with a Bachelor's Degree should be--and perhaps would be-- if it weren't for grade inflation and other factors that cheapen the value of most college degrees.

That leaves a U.S.graduate with a Bachelor's at about the level that most Asian or European high school graduates are. I think it's rather sad, but I guess college ends up being just another for-profit industry here.
What Asian countries are you talking about? I recently asked some of my seniors how many people died in the holocaust. Their reply? Maybe 2000-3000. Plagiarism is widespread and accepted. Even post-graduate students regularly and openly copy their papers. I see greater reasoning and analyzing ability of of US high school Sophomores than I do most of my graduates. As for research and analytical writing, the concept barely exists.

They are good at math, though.

Don't confuse having memorized a lot of facts with having actually learned something. Most Asian countries have a memorization-drill-test system. That means they are AWESOME at information recall. It all seems very impressive.

In America, we just teach them how to use libraries and the Internet and focus on teaching the more difficult things like how to tear apart and argument or how to write a convincing and well-researched essay.
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Old 09-12-2009, 08:51 PM
Spezza Spezza is offline
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My Masters degree (MISt, library) got me a job at Tim Hortons. No library will touch me. Who wants a MISt grad who has no experience? You see, like a sucker, I decided to actually do work and learn while in grad school. While most of my peers worked full or part-time library jobs, I actually studied and got straight A's. In all my group work I ended up doing the majority of the work, most at the last minute, fixing my fellow librarians-in-training lame excuse at research, because they were busy with their jobs. So, today, they have library jobs and I - being lucky - have been hired back by my former employer in a role with a great potential for growth.

Masters degrees can be simply a hoop to jump through. A MLIS degree is a perfect example. Librarian is a passion, it isn't something that can be taught. Sure librarian skills can be taught and improved upon, but really it is the passion for helping people and finding stuff that defines the profession - not some inane degree a high school dropout can get.

(I'm the high school dropout, if you're curious.)
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Old 09-12-2009, 09:09 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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In the sciences, I don't think a masters offers much above a bachelors degree. A few years of work experience will generally give the same options as an M.S. degree.

I've also heard a PhD overqualifies you for work. So that is my understanding of the sciences, the masters offer little above the bachelors, and the PhD overqualifies you.

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 09-12-2009 at 09:10 PM..
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Old 09-12-2009, 10:39 PM
amarone amarone is offline
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We shy away from Computer Science graduates with a Masters degree because they expect a significantly higher salary for having learnt something very specific that is of zero to minimal use to us as a company in the real commercial world.

In other subjects, a Bachelor's degree gets you nowhere and you need a higher degree. My degree was in Biochemistry, which allowed you to be a lab technician and not a lot else. You needed a PhD to get anywhere.
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Old 09-13-2009, 12:39 AM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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In the sciences, I don't think a masters offers much above a bachelors degree. A few years of work experience will generally give the same options as an M.S. degree.

I've also heard a PhD overqualifies you for work. So that is my understanding of the sciences, the masters offer little above the bachelors, and the PhD overqualifies you.
It totally depends. The engineering team I am in has four people with PhDs, including myself.
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Old 09-13-2009, 07:32 AM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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I think the responses in this thread point toward the fact that you can't really generalize about master's degrees. In my field (social work) they are almost indispensable and in my husband's field (clinical psychology) they are almost worthless. My general impression is that the more academic the degree, the less value it has to employers, whereas the professional master's programs tend to be helpful for getting jobs. That would cover MSWs, MBAs and engineers -- I know some master's-level engineers who make an excellent living. The thing is, you can't just get the degree and expect to be handed a job. As Spezza illustrates, you have to develop all of the other skills that will make you employable at the same time.
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:58 AM
robardin robardin is offline
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Originally Posted by Cubsfan View Post
Checking the box is a figure of speech that basically says "I've got one". What I meant by "they don't check your school" is that they don't look into or care about the quality or heritage of the school you went to. They just care that you have the MBA.
I have never known this to be true. Everywhere I've worked where I've been part of the recruiting and interviewing process, quality of the school is ALWAYS a factor regardless of whether it's an MBA, Master's or Bachelor's. In fact I'd argue the opposite for a strategy to "maximize the income return" of a Master's: since often the GPA is not looked at except for newly graduating people, it's much more valuable to struggle to scrape by and barely get a Master's or MBA with bad grades at a well-known top institution than to come out with a 4.0 average from "The University of Phoenix" or somesuch.

Of course, everywhere I've worked at has required specific degrees for a reason (technical and/or business knowledge), and the interview process includes a grilling to see if the candidate really does understand fundamental concepts therein. Maybe a government agency has job slots that "just wants a checkbox ticked for degree requirements". I have occasionally interviewed Master's students with 3.8 GPAs from Ivy League institutions who did pretty badly on that count, but not very often, and much more often I'm very impressed: it's an assumption that the "flake ratio" will be much lower recruiting from Schools Known To Be Good. Since we can fill our interview slots with applicants from these KTBG schools, it's very hard for anyone not from one of those schools to even get noticed.

Last edited by robardin; 09-13-2009 at 10:59 AM..
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  #30  
Old 09-13-2009, 11:49 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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I have a Master's Degree in Science, and it has not helped my career at all.
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  #31  
Old 09-13-2009, 12:10 PM
threemae threemae is offline
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I think that Cubsfan point is that, between University of Phoenix and the University of Colorado business school, there's relatively little differentiation from prospective employers. Certainly, there's a world of difference between a Wharton grad and a University of Phoenix grad, but after you drop off of the "top 20" or "top 50" list of business schools, the differences in how employers regard the degree are pretty trivial. Are there are a hell of a lot more than 50 business schools in the United States. Hence the statement that where they obtained the degree is sort of irrelevant for the numerical majority of people with MBA's and how its become very much a "check the box" degree in certain circles.
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Old 09-13-2009, 12:26 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Yes and no. Outside of the top schools, the ranking becomes less important, but companies do tend to hire locally. So where you get your MBA still matters to some degree, but not in exactly the same way.

Last edited by ultrafilter; 09-13-2009 at 12:27 PM..
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  #33  
Old 09-13-2009, 12:57 PM
Rubystreak Rubystreak is offline
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Originally Posted by suranyi View Post
Many school districts give an automatic pay increase to a teacher who obtains a master's degree.
In NY, you pretty much have to get a Masters eventually to remain employed as a teacher, so it's not optional, but you're right, you do get a pay raise for every credit you earn beyond your bachelors. I have 2 Masters, one of which was more credits than the MAT degree, so my starting salary was a bit higher than other people's. If I took coursework on my own and submitted it to the district, I'd get another increase, though not enough to cover the price of the credits, at least not in the short run. This is their way of encouraging teachers to continue their educations after they have the job. Unfortunately, college credits are mighty expensive, so most people don't do it unless they have a specific goal in mind.
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  #34  
Old 09-14-2009, 06:20 AM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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I'm currently studying a Master's degree in Journalism and job prospects within the industry are... not encouraging at the moment.

We had some industry representatives in the other day to give us some insight into what journalists get paid and how they work in the New Media environment, and at the moment the pay for a graduate student (Bachelors or Masters, doesn't matter) is AUD$30-$38k, which is less than what a full-time Assistant Manager at pretty much any major retail store you can name makes.

Now, I really enjoy what I'm doing as part of my degree, but it does mean I've got to do some serious thinking about what I want to do with my Degree, because I sure as hell don't feel like getting a Master's degree to take a Cadet Reporter job that involves shit pay, shit hours, and having to cover all the stories that no-one else wants to deal with.

I'm not saying that I expect $100k a year and a company BMW out of the gate, but I don't think it's unreasonable for someone with a Masters in any field to expect more remuneration than people without degrees. Especially given how much it costs to go to Uni in the first place.
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:28 AM
Lanzy Lanzy is offline
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After getting my masters degree online from a crappy little school my income jumped approx 35%.

My company had a stupid little box that needed checking to allow me to apply for a senior position. Once the requirement was satisfied I moved on up the ladder.
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Old 09-14-2009, 09:26 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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I would agree that it's not possible to generalize about Master degrees. It depends so much on the field of study.

For example, a Masters in Laws (LL.M.) is not a requirement to practise law, but it can be a way to specialise in a particular field of law, which in turn opens up job opportunities and access to different salaries.

I have an LL.M. from a good US school, and it has certainly helped me get to the career I wanted. I can't put a number on it, because it's not as clear-cut as Lanzy's example, but I would certainly say it was well worth the financial investment.

(And, of course, it was also a lot of fun to do, and helped my professional development, which are also significant reasons to pursue higher education, but those are different issues than the OP asked about.)
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Old 09-14-2009, 09:37 AM
BlinkingDuck BlinkingDuck is offline
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I have a Masters in Math. Has it helped?

Well..Yes! The process/classes/involvement of getting the Masters degree was EXTREMELY helpful in and of itself.

After that...it was helpful in that it gave me some 'street cred'. It allowed me to hunt and to have people take you more seriously.

However, it's main benefit was the actual work done getting the degree. It truely hardened me, boosted my confidence and demeanor.
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:10 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Originally Posted by BlinkingDuck View Post
I have a Masters in Math. Has it helped?

Well..Yes! The process/classes/involvement of getting the Masters degree was EXTREMELY helpful in and of itself.

After that...it was helpful in that it gave me some 'street cred'. It allowed me to hunt and to have people take you more seriously.

However, it's main benefit was the actual work done getting the degree. It truely hardened me, boosted my confidence and demeanor.
I have to agree with this. Just getting an MBA from a top 50 school was helpful for me because I was in classes with other smart, motivated, business-minded people. I had two years of experience constantly working in project teams and giving class presentations which automatically gives me a competetive advantage over people who can barely speak in front of others.

You don't automatically get more money just for getting your masters or Phd. You are expected to be able to use your advanced knowledge to become more valuable to your company.
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  #39  
Old 09-14-2009, 07:29 PM
HazelNutCoffee HazelNutCoffee is online now
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What Asian countries are you talking about? I recently asked some of my seniors how many people died in the holocaust. Their reply? Maybe 2000-3000. Plagiarism is widespread and accepted. Even post-graduate students regularly and openly copy their papers. I see greater reasoning and analyzing ability of of US high school Sophomores than I do most of my graduates. As for research and analytical writing, the concept barely exists.

They are good at math, though.
Hah. In Korea we have three universities that are the equivalent of the US's Ivy League schools. I went to one of those for my undergrad, and it was bullshit. The amount of studying it takes to get by is miniscule. I never realized this until I went to the States to do my MA and was surrounded by people who'd done their BA in the US and Canada and England. The difference in our educations was quite embarassing.
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:39 PM
appleciders appleciders is offline
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What Asian countries are you talking about? I recently asked some of my seniors how many people died in the holocaust. Their reply? Maybe 2000-3000. Plagiarism is widespread and accepted. Even post-graduate students regularly and openly copy their papers. I see greater reasoning and analyzing ability of of US high school Sophomores than I do most of my graduates. As for research and analytical writing, the concept barely exists.

They are good at math, though.

Don't confuse having memorized a lot of facts with having actually learned something. Most Asian countries have a memorization-drill-test system. That means they are AWESOME at information recall. It all seems very impressive.

In America, we just teach them how to use libraries and the Internet and focus on teaching the more difficult things like how to tear apart and argument or how to write a convincing and well-researched essay.
Where do you teach?


I'm looking at a MFA in theatre before this is all said and done, and while it may or may not increase my pay in the long run, it would allow me to teach at a university which (besides being what I actually want to do, because I enjoy teaching) would give me a much more stable salary, plus benefits not reliant on a union and much less travel.
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:42 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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I'm looking at a MFA in theatre before this is all said and done, and while it may or may not increase my pay in the long run, it would allow me to teach at a university which (besides being what I actually want to do, because I enjoy teaching) would give me a much more stable salary, plus benefits not reliant on a union and much less travel.
You definitely need to do some research on the MFA theatre job market (or lack thereof) to make sure the payoff is there.
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  #42  
Old 09-14-2009, 08:17 PM
Kayeby Kayeby is offline
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My BIL has a PhD in theoretical mathematics and is having a hard time finding a job. Part of the problem is the huge gap between reality and his expectations - he genuinely believed he could have his pick of high-paying, strictly 9-5, low-stress jobs.

He's becoming very bitter that potential employers don't value the PhD he spent 6 years working for. I do feel for him, but nobody owes him a living at the salary he feels he's entitled to. It strikes me as somewhat outdated to believe that higher education should automatically translate to a higher salary, like the Pit thread where someone's mother thought that a bachelor's degree meant you would always be able to find work.

As the waste-your-degree poster child I'm definitely not against learning for the sake of learning. But I think if you want X salary after you graduate it's in your interest to do some research first.
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  #43  
Old 09-14-2009, 09:29 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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At one management consulting firm I worked at, one of my coworkers had a masters or Phd in aerospace engineering. Whenever the project manager was like "guys come on! This isn't rocket science!" I would lean over and be like "is that true?"
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  #44  
Old 09-14-2009, 09:48 PM
Zelski Zelski is offline
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I don't post too much as you guys are generally too fast and too good with your posting, but I thought I should post in this thread
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Originally Posted by ultrafilter View Post
I don't have a substantive comment right now, but the NY Times ran a series of articles this summer on the value of a master's degree. The general verdict is that engineering and business degrees are the only ones that really work out financially, but there are other reasons to pursue a master's in other fields.
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... You can also see from this chart that there is are significant differences is starting salary, salary growth and lifetime compensation depending on where you went to school.
I have a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from a school that is in the top 20 on that chart, plus 8-10 years (depending on how you count) working as an engineer for Boeing in Seattle. I haven't been able to find a job since my graduation from MBA school in May 2007. I grant that there are some extenuating circumstances in my case, most importantly changing career paths from Engineering to Marketing and acting as Executor for a fairly complex estate which started right around graduation. But in January, I joined a temp firm that hasn't found a remote possibility. I have been turned down volunteering for office work for non-profits that I have been associated with, and I am currently examining Craigslist for internships and volunteer jobs. Most applications give me the old pocket veto where I don't even get a rejection.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
In the sciences, I don't think a masters offers much above a bachelors degree. A few years of work experience will generally give the same options as an M.S. degree.

I've also heard a PhD overqualifies you for work. So that is my understanding of the sciences, the masters offer little above the bachelors, and the PhD overqualifies you.
If I could manage to get a month of experience in any area of marketing, I bet I would have job possibilities. Granted, that isn't saying the same thing as saying 'experience gives the same options as an MBA' because in my case, I have an MBA, but I know organizations that have hired people with only an undergraduate level of education but who had that had one summer as a sophomore working in an ad agency. Some of them have said they feel that I am overqualified for the job in question, but they rarely have appropriate level jobs for my skill level. The only other jobs they post are CMO, VP of marketing, Director of Marketing kind of jobs and I am just changing into marketing. C level jobs are not yet appropriate for me.

Last edited by Zelski; 09-14-2009 at 09:50 PM..
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Old 09-15-2009, 01:58 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Originally Posted by Zelski View Post
I haven't been able to find a job since my graduation from MBA school in May 2007. I grant that there are some extenuating circumstances in my case, most importantly changing career paths from Engineering to Marketing and acting as Executor for a fairly complex estate which started right around graduation.
Or, more importantly, graduating into the worst job market since the great depression.

The problem is in a bad job market, companies tend to only look for experienced strategic hires. People who can hit the ground running and fill a specific position they need at that time. During better times, they will typically hire a lot more juior people with the expectation that there will be some turnover during the year.

I had lucked out when I graduated from business school in 2001. I caught the last new hire class of a prestigeous consulting firm in Manhattan right before the dot com collapse / Enron / Arthur Andersen / 9-11 shitfest. And most of the year and a half I spent afterwards was being part of a start class that was way too big for the current economic climate waiting to get laid off.
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  #46  
Old 09-15-2009, 11:58 PM
Zelski Zelski is offline
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Well, thank you msmith537, you make me feel better about myself. When talking to employers, I mention the recent conditions when they wonder what I've been doing.
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  #47  
Old 09-16-2009, 08:45 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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I should also point out that year a lot of my classmates who had offers from competing firms had their start dates push back sometimes up to a year or two (mine was only pushed back 3 months) or recinded altogether.

Last edited by msmith537; 09-16-2009 at 08:46 AM..
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  #48  
Old 09-16-2009, 12:37 PM
The Real Regency Elf The Real Regency Elf is offline
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My MS in IS/Operational Management has qualified me to jump to the top of the salary range in my field (which is a cross between technical writing and instructional designer) here in NC. I was offered my current job because I was the only applicant with a Masters who made the final pool of candidates. My manager told me they felt my degree added "prestige" to the position.

However, as salaries in NC tend to cap out fairly low, I'm now stuck. My hiring salary was the max salary that my job band pays, and there's no way for me to move up a band without doing something entirely different elsewhere in the company.
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Old 09-16-2009, 01:28 PM
BlinkingDuck BlinkingDuck is offline
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Originally Posted by The Real Regency Elf View Post
My MS in IS/Operational Management has qualified me to jump to the top of the salary range in my field (which is a cross between technical writing and instructional designer) here in NC. I was offered my current job because I was the only applicant with a Masters who made the final pool of candidates. My manager told me they felt my degree added "prestige" to the position.

However, as salaries in NC tend to cap out fairly low, I'm now stuck. My hiring salary was the max salary that my job band pays, and there's no way for me to move up a band without doing something entirely different elsewhere in the company.
Well...that is something! You started out high.

For many people that are not in the main business/executive/senior management chain this is the normal state of affairs. I am in the same boat right now and I can point to many others as well.

If you want to 'move up' from here you need to get as much experience as you can and move to a larger company that needs people doing what you do but on a larger/more complicated scale.
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  #50  
Old 09-16-2009, 02:48 PM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
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In Mechanical Engineering, my Masters is considered the "terminal" degree, unless one is going into academia. My company for example pays exactly the same starting salary for an MS-ME as a PhD. An MS-ME is worth about 10% more starting salary, or about $5,000 to $6,000 more per year, than a BS-ME. It also gets you hired in at one level higher than a raw recruit, which in effect puts you 1-3 years ahead on the corporate ladder. Past the first few years, however, the MS-ME has no real effect at my company on promotions, positions, or additional salary.

Probably most people don't care about it, but some of the PEs I know are really concerned over a serious proposal to mandate a Master's degree to get the PE license (thus allowing you to legally be an Engineer with State seal and everything). Old people like me who already have the license will be exempted of course (and I already have my Master's degree), but we're worried that it might make it really hard to get new graduates, since most all of our Engineering jobs mandate that you eventually get your license. In effect, given that almost all of our applicants with a Master's degree are from outside the US, unless Engineering schools start sending out a lot more students our way, it's going to either cause severe salary inflation, or else require large numbers of H1B visas.
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