Employers can be very selective in whom they hire as the unemployment rate rises. Combine that with the fact that a higher percentage of people now have bachelor’s degrees than they did 10 years ago, and careers are just looking bleak for recent college graduates.
The master’s is now the fastest growing degree, as 657,000 were awarded in 2009, twice as many since the 1980s. The rate has skyrocketed in the past few years as many with bachelor degrees could not find jobs.
About 2 out of every 25 people (aged 25 or older) now have master’s degree, which is about the same ratio that had bachelor’s degrees or higher in the 1960s.
Some education experts attribute the rise to more specific degrees. Typically, a bachelor’s degree is a very general degree in business or marketing. However, master’s degrees are becoming much more specific than they used to be.
Students can earn master’s degrees in supply chain management and in managing mission-driven organizations, which prove to be very useful because employers know they do not have to take a business major or a marketing major and mold him/her into a supply chain manager. Specific master’s degrees can help employers select more qualified employees and cut down on training time.
This type of job-specific education has helped create a new degree, the professional science master’s or P.S.M. Only a handful of schools offered this degree a few years ago; however, 239 programs now offer it, making the P.S.M. the fastest growing degree in America.
Many of the P.S.M. degrees are in the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and math) because these fields have grown to be very specific and complex.
College administrators figured that their students need to get jobs once they graduate. So, they are now adjusting their degrees to make their students more qualified to enter the labor force, rather than giving them a broad education.
Some economists believe that the college degree is devaluing. They argue that colleges have become too lenient in admissions and are simply turning out more graduates than the economy can handle. Therefore, students need master’s degrees to stand out.
Some employers admit that people don’t need master’s degrees to be successful in their fields. Some even say that bachelor’s degrees are not even necessary. But, when all three candidates are available – at about the same price – why wouldn’t they hire the most educated ones?