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Is the Master's Degree the New Bachelor's? 330

Posted by Soulskill
from the controlling-the-rate-of-eduflation dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Laura Pappano writes that the master's degree, once derided as the consolation prize for failing to finish a Ph.D., or as a way to kill time waiting out economic downturns, is now the fastest-growing degree, with 657,000 awarded in 2009, more than double the level in the 1980s. Today nearly two in 25 people age 25 and over have a master's, about the same proportion that had a bachelor's or higher in 1960. 'Several years ago it became very clear to us that master's education was moving very rapidly to become the entry degree in many professions,' says Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools. 'There is definitely some devaluing of the college degree going on,' adds Eric A. Hanushek, an education economist at the Hoover Institution. 'We are going deeper into the pool of high school graduates for college attendance,' making a bachelor's no longer an adequate screening measure of achievement for employers. But some wonder if a master's is worth the extra effort. 'In some fields, such as business or engineering, a graduate degree typically boosted income by more than enough to justify the cost,' says Liz Pulliam Weston. 'In others — the liberal arts and social sciences, in particular — master's degrees didn't appear to produce much if any earnings advantage.'"
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Is the Master's Degree the New Bachelor's?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 25, 2011 @03:57PM (#36874908)

    We would not be having this discussion if things were booming. Back in 2000, you could get a job if you could spell HTML. The reason M is the B is that degrees for many/most jobs serves as a WAY TO CUT DOWN THE PILE FOR HR. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • by snowgirl (978879) on Monday July 25, 2011 @04:08PM (#36875060) Journal

      I noticed that as well. The article talks about how Master's Degrees are a way to wait for the end of an economic downturn, and then "master's degree enrollment has been up since 2009!" It's like, uh... you realize that you just explained why it's gone up, right?

      • I noticed that as well. The article talks about how Master's Degrees are a way to wait for the end of an economic downturn, and then "master's degree enrollment has been up since 2009!" It's like, uh... you realize that you just explained why it's gone up, right?

        The increase of Master's degrees might also be an increase in students who don't want (or aren't ready) to enter the job market after their senior year. In my dabbling in graduate courses, I found many CS students who couldn't software engineer themselves out of a bag. They might command a higher starting salary, but usually a B.S. software engineer with 2 years of experience will be paid more than a M.S. with 0 (and after the first few years, experience pays more than the extra degree).

        (disclaimer, I'

        • by Artraze (600366)

          Not only does working instead of being in school earn you experience that makes you more valuable, but it also get you something else: money. Even if the MS gets you a few more peanuts as year (which, as you rightly point out, isn't at all likely), it'll take a log time to make up for all the wages you "lost" going to school for two years. This is even more true for Ph.D.s.

          Quite frankly, the M.S. is becoming the new B.S.: people don't really care about it. As the higher education bubble bursts and employ

          • Not only does working instead of being in school earn you experience that makes you more valuable, but it also get you something else: money. Even if the MS gets you a few more peanuts as year (which, as you rightly point out, isn't at all likely), it'll take a log time to make up for all the wages you "lost" going to school for two years. This is even more true for Ph.D.s.

            I saw something a few months ago that showed Ph.D.s making about 10k less than people with Masters (across the board, not specific to software). They are more educated, but mostly can only work at universities, larger tech companies or on research. Most small businesses won't bother because the skill set / salary / experience doesn't match well.

            That you get by being in the workforce for two years, not school. I'd personally look at an M.S. wearily.

            One distinction I'll make is people who went straight from bachelors to masters and those who worked a couple of years in between (what I did). The students who d

        • You know, there's a reason we spell "B.S. in software engineering" as "BS software engineering". With BS being the abbreviation for something VERY different.

          I stopped looking at degrees when it comes to hiring programmers and SEs. Experience in team leading is a plus, for everything else hand over some sample code.

        • by mcmonkey (96054)

          In my dabbling in graduate courses, I found many CS students who couldn't software engineer themselves out of a bag.

          So? You might as well complain about students in cooking school who can't farm.

      • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Monday July 25, 2011 @04:43PM (#36875470) Journal

        Master's Degrees are even worse than Bachelor's Degrees, though. It's well-known that the entire college system is a huge money-making scheme, and quality has gone down in favor of appealing to more students and drawing more money. Lawyers go to law school, doctors go to med school, often after they have a bachelor's or master's in their field: it's a separate school.

        College is for engineers. Learn about math, sciences, physics, engineering, the like. But colleges are trying to push silly stuff like IT management and things that require technical skill sets that are constantly changing and not based on a whole hell of a lot of basic theory. Look at programming degrees: programmers know way too little about how to program and way too much about yesterday's programming languages and today's buzzwords. Programmers learned C++ and Java but had no clue how to deal with raw C, and many of them didn't have the programming background to understand a new language; then .NET happened, and it's like, oh crap, what is this?

        Lawyers need to apprentice with a legal professional--I know, I've seen it. Culinary chefs need to apprentice for a while, too. Doctors apprentice--as nurses, then as apprentice doctors. Programmers don't apprentice; managers don't apprentice; Engineers don't apprentice. I don't understand this.

        Then on top of it you have dance students and students playing musical instruments, and what do they do? Learn the history of art, learn how to paint, learn about math and science. Why? Why do I need this to be a tuba player? ... why the hell am I taking a bachelor's in tuba?

        And then on top of it, $10 textbooks of constantly decreasing quality released on shelf for $200 with a new revision every 4 months so you have to buy new. WTF?

        Put some quality into the education and I'll put some stock into it.

        • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday July 25, 2011 @05:02PM (#36875684)

          Education is what you decide to take out of it.
          I left college enriched and with a new set of skills that I felt made me very valuable in real life. Others who took the same classes, could barely use any of the tools and had much harder time and were quite unprepared and only knew C++ (even though they took the same classes when I was out I had C, C++, Java, Python, Lisp and many others under my belt (Those were new technologies at the time))
          Because after I was taught the basics I expanded further to try to actually master the topics vs. just enough to pass the test.

          I came in to college knowing how to Program, and I majored in Computer Science. I saw that it improved my skills and was worth it.
          Others got less out out. Because they decided not to be educated in the topic but get the degree.

          The value of the Masters is the fact that after getting the first degree they went back to more... And a lot of those people who didn't decide to invest in their undergrad didn't come back, leaving Master students more people who wanted to invest in their education, vs. just getting the paper.

          It isn't as much the school, but the culture of education, where actually wanting to learn stuff vs. just passing the class is discouraged.
          Colleges know that that why they are so much more expensive, more and more money goes into non-education... They go to making bigger and fancier classrooms (But if you check the utilization of the current classrooms you can see that most rooms are empty, and they just need a cheaper refurbishment, but to the colleges who are collecting money, a new building is so much more effective then getting money then refurbishing the old classrooms) So much is wasted and little is invested in the students.

          • by MobyDisk (75490)

            The question is this: how can colleges continue to profit while rejecting those people unlike yourself? The difficulty is that you got a lot more out of the degree, but you have the same title they do. A prospective employer needs an easy way to tell you apart from the crowd.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            If the process of going to college, graduating and getting a piece of paper means that learning something is not connected to that process then the process is broken.

            If college is only what you put into it then why go at all? Why not just get some books and hunker down and study for yourself. You would save a lot of money, right? Why? Because you need the credentials. You are buying the credentials! Some fools actually go to college to learn something. The smart ones just go to buy the credentials and

            • by Savantissimo (893682) on Monday July 25, 2011 @11:17PM (#36879674) Journal

              A real passion for learning is the kiss of death to a college GPA. 99.99995% of the knowledge in the library has no bearing on your next set of midterms or finals. Pursuing any of that other knowledge will actually hurt your grades. Even if it is related, if it disagrees with your professors opinions, knowing it could hurt your grades. The grades you get also have little to do with how much you know about the course topic, less to do with what you'll actually be able to remember in ten years, still less with your ability to think about it, nothing to do with your ability to apply it, and a negative amount to do with your ability to innovate in the field. College diplomas are certificates of conformity, nothing more. The process of getting them actually damages competence and creative ability in many ways.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          In Canada, engineers do apprentice, for an additional 4 years after getting an accredited degree. You have to work under the direct supervision of a Professional Engineer for it to count. Then you can get your P.Eng.

          • In Canada, engineers do apprentice, for an additional 4 years after getting an accredited degree. You have to work under the direct supervision of a Professional Engineer for it to count. Then you can get your P.Eng.

            Same with P.E.'s in the U.S. You have to have so many years of experience that is signed off on by a P.E. before you can take the test and become one. That is where the GPP is confused. Sure Doctors and Lawyers and such go through apprenticeship, so do professional engineers that work in the public sector and want to be licensed.

        • by chispito (1870390)

          managers don't apprentice

          Huh? What successful business doesn't have a management training program or, at the least, an assistant manager/team lead for on-the-job training?

        • and me with no mod points. I have been criticizing the college system for two decades as mostly good advertising, along with hiring managers with the "well I went through it so dammit they should too" mentality.

          for most professions (not all, but most), 90% of your classes in college mean jack shit towards your profession -unless- your profession is teaching, in which case you will then teach students the same crap you yourself didn't need to learn.

          I'm really wondering what the internet and the information a

          • by Kelbear (870538)

            CPA license requirements recently changed to require new applicants to have 150+ credits of education to obtain. This now means that anybody taking accounting as an undergrad might as well just stick around and pick up an MBA while they're at it since they'll have to go back to school later anyway to get enough credits.

            Now almost all of the new hires at the accounting firm I work at have MBAs or are working towards one because it is essentially the new minimum. Granted, they're allowed to fudge their 150 cr

        • It's well-known that the entire college system is a huge money-making scheme

          [[citation needed]]

          programmers know way too little about how to program and way too much about yesterday's programming languages and today's buzzwords. Programmers learned C++ and Java but had no clue how to deal with raw C

          Can you really put those sentences together? Really?

        • Let me help you understand it.

          Medicine and law have been around for a while and benefit from government protection.

          It's also why medicine is so expensive.
          If engineering was run like medicine you'd need a Master's degree in wireless communication to install home router and people would play you $500 to install the router. Government regulations would prevent you from setting up the home router the same way the FDA prevents people from selling medical devices or drugs...

          Of course, it is all done for quality

          • by RockoTDF (1042780)
            When will you "education is a scam to get your your money" people realize that these arguments don't really hold much water when you are dealing with non-profit organizations?
    • I was once told that HR considers engineering MS = BS + 4 years of work experience and nothing more.

      • I was once told that HR considers engineering MS = BS + 4 years of work experience and nothing more.

        And as someone that does hiring, I will take that BS+4 every day of the week.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      It's always been that way. Only now, it's for entry-level jobs, not jobs requiring extra skill.

  • Huh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tthomas48 (180798) on Monday July 25, 2011 @04:00PM (#36874952) Homepage

    Engineering is interesting. But the MBA is a vocational degree, so it doesn't really fit into the traditional college degree format. Perhaps in the economic downturn you need to not only prove you can think (Bachelors Degree), but prove you've received specialized instruction in your field (Masters)?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      But the MBA is a vocational degree, so it doesn't really fit into the traditional college degree format.

      Except that as I understand it, there's an increasing trend to do a Commerce degree, immediately followed by an MBA. For some people, this is the new traditional college degree format, it just takes 2 more years for your B. Comm or whatever it is to actually count for anything.

      Of course, the problem with this is that an increasing number of MBA's have no real experience in anything but university, so whe

      • by tthomas48 (180798)

        I wasn't trying to slag an MBA. I'm merely pointing out that it's a vocational degree. Other fields also have vocational degrees (many CS departments have become vocational and turned out plenty of undesirable employees).
        My point in talking about MBA = job, is that the entire point of a vocational degree is to train you for a job, so the headline should be no surprise. A college degree should first and foremost be teaching you how to think about deep subject matters. That is in fact what separates a college

      • Re:Huh. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by LordNacho (1909280) on Monday July 25, 2011 @05:41PM (#36876190)

        Not to slag the concept of an MBA, but I am willing to bet more than a few of us have seen what happens when someone who is essentially a fresh college graduate thinks he knows how to run an engineering entity (and, in fact, doesn't know how to do anything).

        NOT to slag MBAs?? They need to be slagged off! At my firm, MBAs are the butt of nearly every joke about incompetence. And that's from someone who's actually sat in a well known business school, "studying" management, leadership, etc. It's a complete and utter scam. What's amazing is even though I thought it was pretty intellectually light (compared to my Engineering degree) I thought I might have learned something useful. Nope. Today, 3 startup-firms on, I can honestly say it didn't help squat. Oh wait, maybe it did help get me in the door, and making people think I knew more than I really did. But that's about it.

        Things I learned on the management course: history of various firms (case studies, interesting in the Discovery channel way), different ways to illustrate BGOs. (Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious: SWOT analysis, brainstorming, drawing a friggin chart, etc.) How to make things look more complicated than they really are. Don't know why, but many people think you're smart if you confuse them. The smart ones can tell from you explaining things in 2 sentences.

        Things I learned in the real world: how to hire people, how to fire them, how to talk to clients, how to talk to suppliers, how to find out what the next move is, how to filter out my industry news, how to rent an office, how to get someone to clean it, how to pay the bills, how to get offshore directors who are competent, how to identify a good lawyer, how to make the most of an accountant, how to get investors, etc. Of course, none of these things can realistically be taught without some business taking a chance on you.

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      A BS degree proving you can think? Heh... It is to laugh. They typically don't teach you to think these days- they teach you all sorts of odd notions in a misplaced line of thought that they need to "prepare you for the workforce". The degree in question is just proving that you can pass four years' worth of this odd assortment of classes in many cases with many schools.

      An MS is a bit better as it's focused towards doing that task, actually- especially if you're doing a Thesis instead of the test route

    • by MetricT (128876)

      As someone with both an MBA and most of a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, I have to disagree with calling the MBA a vocational degree. It involved a lot of thinking and learning about the subject matter, the world, and myself that I've found quite invaluable.

      As it turns out, economics, like physics, is largely the study of phase transitions, whether it is water freezing into ice when T Mschwartz, or your overleveraged economy imploding into depression when # savers > # consumers.

      The difference is, Cong

      • by MetricT (128876)

        The 2nd paragraph was supposed to say:

        As it turns out, economics, like physics, is largely the study of phase transitions, whether it is water freezing into ice when T # consumers.

        • by MetricT (128876)

          Slashcode keeps mangling my greater-than/less-thans, so...

          When water freezes into ice when Temperature less than 32 F.
          When star collapses into black hole when Radius less than the Schwartzchild radius
          When your overleveraged economy implodes when the number of savers outnumbers the number of consumers.

    • For engineering, a MS represents more training and (one would hope) deeper understanding. You can do fine without one, but it may open some doors. Generally a good idea financially speaking. PhDs are a bit of a gamble, in that you become the premiere expert on some very niche subject, and you only have a few years to capitalize on that. And you better love that niche. And if you don't complete it in ~2 years, you will probably never fully recoup the opportunity costs.

      For the sciences, PhDs are pretty much r

    • by PJ6 (1151747)

      the MBA is a vocational degree

      Huh? Isn't "vocational" supposed to mean "useful"?

      Seriously, I'm only half joking - plumber, electrician, carpenter... useful. MBA... seriously?

    • A MSc doesn't really involve any specialized instruction. Master's degrees and PhDs train you to be a researcher; graduate school does give you advanced knowledge of a field, but this is largely self-guided and incidental to the process of making a significant contribution of original research.

      I don't know what the situation is like for engineering, but in CS I don't think a graduate degree is a wise investment unless you intend to enter academia. There are very few companies that deliberately hire people w

    • I distinctly remember when I was assigned new hires, fresh out of college, all with a minimum of a BS in CS, usually with glowing letters of recommendation from the "somebody" in the undergraduate program at "university", and I remember very well just what a bunch of utterly helpless dunces (most of) these people were! I also had the pleasure of training two Vietnam vets, who had only marginal exposure to machine rooms and data centers and no repair training! Armed with common sense, a high school educati

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 25, 2011 @04:01PM (#36874966)

    "making a bachelor's no longer an adequate screening measure of achievement for employers"

    What many employers fail to realize is that various Bachelor's Degrees require different levels of work. Some much more than others.
    A BS in Engineering or BA in History require extensive reading and research. A generic "Business Degree" requires just showing up to class.

    • by lennier1 (264730) on Monday July 25, 2011 @04:14PM (#36875142)

      Some of those require a mix of intense training and natural talents.
      There's a reason why "MBA" is said to stand for
      Master of
      Backstabbing and
      Ass-kissing

      • Some of those require a mix of intense training and natural talents.
        There's a reason why "MBA" is said to stand for
        Master of
        Backstabbing and
        Ass-kissing

        ... and I'm all out of backstabbing.

      • by OverlordQ (264228)

        Some of those require a mix of intense training and natural talents.
        There's a reason why "MBA" is said to stand for
        Master of
        Backstabbing and
        Ass-kissing

        I always though MBA stood for Master Bullshit Artist.

    • BS in Engineering

      Don't forget the "c" out of BSc. BS in Engineering is something else entirely, for example, the perpetuum mobile :-)

    • by BetterSense (1398915) on Monday July 25, 2011 @05:01PM (#36875672)
      Yes, but both easy and hard degrees serve the function of laundering classicsm. The unstated value of college degrees, in my estimation, is that they provide the corporate world a politically-correct avenue for helping them select candidates that are 'the right kind of people'.

      In fact, joke liberal arts majors serve this function very well, because the knowledge itself is useless, thereby providing even stronger evidence that the degree holder comes from a well-off background.
      • This is an interesting point, one I hadn't thought of up to now. In fact, it does seem that people without a degree are cut out from certain jobs where the core skill is essentially common sense and ordinary social skills.

        I remember working with a trader who was pretty good at what he did (options), but he always felt inferior to guys like me who had a degree and knew the math behind it. He'd gotten in during a bygone era, where a guy could just walk on to the trading floor at 16 and not need a degree. Beca

    • "making a bachelor's no longer an adequate screening measure of achievement for employers"

      It's just like grade inflation.

      Recently going through school, I can tell you that today's "C" is basically the same as yesterday's "D" or "F". If you care about your academics you get an "A" for "good" and a "B" for "passing".

      It's the same with advanced degrees. I found myself in an internship that led into a job where I could start working instead of getting a masters - but for me, and practically everyone I went to school with, a masters degree was just as expected as college was after high school.

      Gradu

  • Easy access to on-line degrees and the for-profit colleges are huge drivers in this. There was no University of Phoenix (or whatever) back in the 1960s. If people can make money at it, you can bet it's going to expand until every dollar that can be spent is being spent.
    • by nofx_3 (40519)

      That was my first though, out of the 657,000 degrees quoted in the article, how many were from top tier universities and how many were from for-profit degree mills?

      • Rest assured that even top tier universities are entirely for-profit institutions. They simply charge a hell of a lot more to make up for the lower volume.
  • You're doing it wrong. Most masters programs purportedly won't pay you to get a masters, but at least at my University I haven't seen anyone without some sort of research assistantship or scholarship to pay tuition+stipend. At least in Engineering; the situation is probably very different for English or Education majors. Then there are those whose employers will pay for the masters degree. Honestly if you're going to spend another $80k for two more years of post-college education, it's not worth it for most
    • by Renraku (518261)

      With engineering you don't exactly have to get a master's to make decent money. Most people are fine with the $50k+ with benefits income range for a four year degree. Whereas for other sciences and degrees, you might have to get a master's to be qualified to do anything more than sweeping a floor at a lab.

      • by dbc (135354)

        Well, while it is true that you don't need more than a B.S. to get a good engineering job, you might not get the one you want. Even 15 years ago when I was hiring at Intel, the first level sort was to discard any resume that wasn't at least an M.S. That still left us with more than we could do a thorough job of processing.

        Unfortunately, Intel H.R. made our jobs as hiring managers much more difficult by putting all resumes through the "resume cuisinart". At that point in time, all resumes that did not com

    • "If you're not getting paid to do your masters, don't do it."
      My first day of grad school orientation, a professor said this. After many skeptical glances around the room, as if to ask "wait, are _you_ getting paid? I'm not", that prof was shooed off the stage, and there was some talk of financial hardship that year. Later, a guy from the union gave a little presentation on why grad assistants should join, starting with "everything in the pamphlet about the union's successes last year applies to permanent st

  • It seems to me that technical bachelors degrees involve less learning than they did maybe 40 years ago. So maybe a Master's degree these days == the same level of technical education as a bachelor's degree 40 years ago?

    • by dbc (135354)

      Is it that, or the level of specialization needed to work in a technical field these days? A BS in engineering these days hardly has time to cover more than the foundation courses.

  • Basic Statistics? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Ummm... no...
    This simple chart [bls.gov] pretty much answers the question. There are related links on the site to get more specifics.

  • Once upon a time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by overshoot (39700) on Monday July 25, 2011 @04:30PM (#36875306)
    ... college, any college, was an entry into the officer ranks in the armed forces. With even one year of college you got routed to officer training, otherwise you were cannon fodder.

    Why, you might ask? Simple: because it screened out the lower classes such as Okies.

    Back in the early 70s, the hiring officer for my first job after graduation had a sign on his wall: "A four year degree means a man is trainable." (Yes, "man." Times were different and nobody even pretended to be gender-neutral.) He explained it: "If you can put up with four years of bullshit to get a piece of paper, you can stick out the six months it'll take us to train you to be useful."

    Pure screening system. The whole idea isn't that you learn anything particularly useful in college, it's that it makes it easy to reject enough candidates to keep the applicant list manageable.

    Well, now more people have BS degrees and they need to screen more people out. It's just that simple.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Well, that's why he's in HR.

      College teaches you a lot of useful things, but once everyone coming through the door knows them, the company no longer considers them useful in a value-over-replacement-player kind of way.

      But what College teaches you most is how to learn, so that's why the sign is true, even if it's not a tautology. I.e., lots of people are trainable even if they didn't get that piece of paper.

      And his logic is flawed. A lot of men (women) put up with 4 years of bullshit to get a piece of paper

  • Some of those Master's degrees are just teachers trying to keep their jobs under the "Highly Qualified" provision of the No Child Left Behind act.
  • Me though, 60 grand of undergrad debt, minus whatever I chipped off these past three years (a bit!), I've gotten the need to feel smart out of my system. I am working, making good money, and hedging my bets -- I wouldn't bet on me to finish the master's and get an even higher paying job to cancel it out.

    But my opinion is worthless since I am employed. Ask someone who's been out on the front lines, trying to find work and ask them how bad one needs a master's degree.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      If you aren't smart enough to have made the university pay you to be there, then you probably made a mistake considering a Masters an investment.

  • Yes it is, likely it's worse, because even Masters is not what it used to be when education counted.

    We had these talks [slashdot.org] already here, haven't we [slashdot.org]?

    The culprit is the fact that government provides loans to anybody who wants them, the education system is aimed at eating up those loans and spitting the students out with huge debt and nothing to show for it, as the students are convinced by the system that they need a degree to get ANY job, never mind a job in their profession, because everybody is getting a degre

  • When I was finishing my Bachelor's degree an embarrassingly long time ago now, my parents made more-or-less the same observation, and encouraged me to continue on with my doctoral work.

    From my experience with a career in academia, I would say that the expectations of society have not increased, resulting in a more educated populace, but that the requirements for obtaining a bachelor's degree have eased. There are people I interact with on a regular basis that didn't study one whit in college, and yet have

  • There's too much emphasis on having a Bachelor's degree these days so it's driving people to get a Masters as some way of differentiating themselves to perspective employers.

    I know a few people who are working jobs that have nothing to do with their college degree, but many jobs want experience or a degree from applicants. One of my relatives also just started his own landscaping business, despite having a Chemistry degree. Why he needed to pour nearly $100,000 into a degree that he'll never use is beyon
    • by Lifyre (960576)

      He probably pursued the chemistry degree because he liked chemistry in high school and was told he needed to go to college to be successful in life. He then grew up and realized he wanted to do something he enjoyed and took up landscaping. For many people college can just be a place to mature in a somewhat controlled and protected environment.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        For many people college can just be a place to immature in a somewhat controlled and protected environment.

        FTFY.

    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday July 25, 2011 @05:09PM (#36875770) Homepage Journal

      I know a few people who are working jobs that have nothing to do with their college degree, but many jobs want experience or a degree from applicants.

      Hell, I'd say that most of my friends with college degrees work in fields that have nothing to do with their degrees....self included.

      My BS is in Biochem...yet I've never worked in that field ever. I tried for med school...got close a few times, then moved on. Been doing DBA work, data modelling...and some slight sys and application admin stuff. During the school years...sold clothes retail, worked restaurants, bartended...head chef in my own place for awhile....so I really don't yet know what I want to be when I 'grow up'...

      But, having that degree...sure gets the foot in the door, that and actually having a personality and being able to promote yourself and talk to people helps. Heck one of my first technical jobs...I got hired...and was in a group of software guys...who ALL knew so much more about everything than I did....(and I did learn a lot from them over those years), but I'd hardly been there a week, and the group had to give a presentation to the users we were creating a GUI for to front end an older mainframe system. Well, everyone in the group was petrified to stand up and present in front of what was a small group of maybe 20-30 people tops.

      I promptly said I'd do it...if they'd coach me on what to say, etc. I gave the talk, and when I hit something I didn't know or remember, I'd call on one of them to chime in with a quick answer...etc. No problem.

      After that...management looked very favorably upon me...and my career has gone up ever since then.

      I've found that you don't always have to be the best technical person...but having a gift of gab, being friendly and getting along with all.....having people skills will carry you a LONG way.

  • by grimmjeeper (2301232) on Monday July 25, 2011 @04:40PM (#36875434)

    It's been my experience in the engineering field that going straight through school to the masters degree is far less useful than getting the bachelors, working for a while and then getting the masters (or concurrently getting the masters while you're working your first job out of undergrad). The academic type can come out of a masters program and still not know squat about actually getting things done, making them basically useless. On the other hand, those of us who have gotten a bachelors, worked a while, and then gone back for the masters really do get more value.

    When I see a resume pass my desk that is for someone who went straight through to a masters, I'm actually less likely to recommend them. They often don't have any better real world skills but they cost more to employ while you get them trained. In fact, they tend to be harder to train as they are so completely immersed in academia and have a hard time making the transition to the real world. On the other hand, internship experience while going straight through school does compensate quite a bit. A few terms doing real work while going to school makes all the difference.

    • This is the path I am taking. I dicked around in management and marketing for 10 years, and now I'm going for my master's in web programming while I work as a sysadmin. Win-win - by the time I graduate I'll have three years of real world IT experience under my belt IN ADDITION to the marketing and management experience I got while I was dicking around, and a master's degree to boot. The 1-2-3 combo is going to give me an edge in getting a better job (assuming my current job doesn't want to give me a pay
  • tech IT need more hands on / on job training or at most 2-3 years school + 1-2 years tech school But masters For help desk? desktop support? IT ADMIN? Coder?

    Maybe MASTERS or MBA for IT manager but even then I want a manager be more on the tech side then the class room side.

    Long term you can't have people in school for 6+ years to get a level 1 job and then need 1-2 years on the job pick on how things are done?

    • IT consultant here. My job is primarily tasked as a junior sysadmin providing lvl3 server/desktop support for our managed clients. As of a few years go, I'm running into recent grads with an official job title as lvl2 support. They're work experience ranks in at either retail or some Geek Squad level. But you know what's really chaps my hide. They get paid 1/3rd more than I do and crank on MY phone at every hour of the day. The whole God Damn system is broke. Fuck this, I'm going to get a masters so I too c

  • I came to this conclusion a while back when I was looking into the job market and I was running across a very significant number of "entry level" positions that were requiring masters degrees.

    These days completing a A.S. degree basically means you can learn, something that graduating high school should prove but hasn't for decades. A B.S. degree typically means you've been exposed to the fundamentals of your field but will likely require extensive training. While a Masters implies some sort of competence

  • by Moof123 (1292134) on Monday July 25, 2011 @04:47PM (#36875512)

    Of all the PhD's I've interviewed for engineering positions, only a couple got my vote. Most are too specialized, too arrogant, and generally too stuck in the clouds.

    Master's folks are 50/50'ish. Same story, but there are a lot more mixed in that turn out to be great engineers and simply wanted to know (or earn) more. I still greatly adjust the thrust of my interview questions when I see the advanced degrees, as nothing is worse than a dolt in sheeps clothing, as management is usually too slow to catch onto the real score in time.

    Bachelor's folks who slip in and are idiots are SO much easier to get rid of later, or at least much easier to train into someone who can hold the right end of a soldering iron. Generally bachelor's folks realize they have a lot to learn, while the PhD's not only don't know any more, but they adamantly believe they know it all.

  • makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 25, 2011 @04:47PM (#36875522)

    People live longer, work longer, so why not go to school longer? Its not like the world is getting simpler, in fact quite the opposite.

  • college degree format is a poor fit for lots tech fields but it seem to be like some certs that all it can prove is that you can pass tests or get away with cheating at them.

    Now by cut downing the math a bit, downsizing the gen ed, cutting filler classes then maybe you can get a masters level in 4 years and a BS level in 2-3. But even then in some tech jobs the theory is next to useless and more hands on based work is much much better some jobs some theory is a better fit but still take a theory loaded CS B

  • by nimbius (983462) on Monday July 25, 2011 @04:58PM (#36875638) Homepage
    listen, the correlation being made isnt valid.. The majority of the planet is facing one of the largest economic recessions in history. when you factor in jobless, many places in the united states harbor as much as 25% real unemployment. around 40 states in the united states of america are actively borrowing money from the federal government to pay for unemployment.

    people are gobbling up loans and going back to college under a historically burdenous debt, but this isnt because one degree has suddenly become any more enticing than another. People have equated a masters degree with a greater potential to find work; this conjecture wasnt even remotely true before the recession. loan officers are encouraging this because they have a monetary incentive to do so.

    expect upon graduation the same fate to befall education as has housing. These newly minted masters graduates will find themselves declaring bankruptcy and defaulting on education loans.
  • I think the problem is more like it is way to easy to get a BA, and a Masters. Seriously. They pretty much rubber stamp it in the California educational system.

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday July 25, 2011 @05:07PM (#36875736)

    As a collection of humans, we learn more and know more. Perhaps more knowledge is now necessary to be generically knowledgeable about things in general.

    Did I learn super focused job skills with my BSc in Computer Science? No. Did I learn? Yes. Was it useful? Yes, it has been.

    Did I learn super focused job skills with my BM in Theory and Composition? No. Did I learn? Yes, tons. Was it useful? Yes, very. Not for my money-making job... but there's more to life than making money.

  • plumbers
    electricians
    Lineman
    are very hands on and IT is in own way much of the same and job like the ones listed have a apprentice system that is a mix of class room + hands on.

    Now in IT there is lot that you can only pick up by doing hands on well maybe high level stuff is better picked in the old fashion class room system but that still makes you lacking in the area of doing the install, support, roll outs, on the fly fixes, shoehorning it in to a older system and so on.

  • by Gavin Scott (15916) on Monday July 25, 2011 @05:10PM (#36875776)

    "Laura Pappano writes that the master's degree, once derided as the consolation prize for failing to finish a Ph.D., or as a way to kill time waiting out economic downturns, is now the fastest-growing degree[.]

    Er, doesn't this sentence totally explain the current phenomenon, thus rendering the whole discussion rather, um, academic?

    G.

  • There people out that are disabled and can do IT jobs but there Disability's make it hard to go though a college program and maybe more a hands on or tech school is a much better fit for them but stuff like this just makes it easier not to hire people with Disability's now do you want people with Disability's to work a good JOB or to sit on welfare?

  • Not to contribute to the general level of blather and misplaced angst generated by this discussion. I think it is useful to point out what college can be helpful for after all the screaming about grade inflation, tuition costs and how pointless all this education is (thank you Slashdot). The real question that should be asked of any undergraduate at the end of their 4 year (or five in my case, I had Coop rotations and problems with depression) is "Did you learn how to learn?" If the aspiring young person ca

  • Everything in the summary is entirely too true. The situation is ridiculous. One of the root causes is the dumbing down of higher education into yet another consumer product (the customer is always right --graduated that is). In my brief time as a T.A. I saw people who thought I was giving them unacceptable customer service when I failed them for not turning in anything all semester. Then there's lazy/inept employers who, instead of taking the trouble to assess applicants' abilities, look for a degree
  • My comment is in the context of whether a Masters gets you any closer to a job in your field or more pay. If you want to teach or do something highly specialized, that's another topic.

    I graduated with a BS in Computer Science, Summa cum Laude. The only thing that degree did for me in terms of real practical programming, was in terms of all the coding jobs I did to pay for it, and the experience I could write down from those jobs on my resume.

    My current job is with a Fortune 20 defense contractor. T
    • Well yes, but if you ever lied about your education and got caught in the process (via promotion review or whatnot), your ass would be shown the door. Despite the HR and the person hiring you going "meh", you made the right choice pursuing your education.

  • In the energy industry where I work a masters is the current optimal entry point for maximum career salary. PhDs dont go into management as much.

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