In a July 2011 article, the New York Times indicated that the master’s degree was the new bachelor’s degree. The article argued that this was due to phenomenon economists call “degree inflation."(i) In practical terms, degree inflation means the bachelor’s degree is now what the high school diploma once was in the job market, or in other words an entry-level credential. In turn, with degree inflation the master’s degree becomes less of a point of difference and more of an entry ticket for many positions. This additional diploma provides evidence of a deeper dive into a field of expertise and the development of analytical skills and tools of that profession.
In a competitive job market, applicants with the master’s credential often receive preference for a vacancy (resumes being equal).(ii) Further, applicants with a master’s degree often comprise the first round of finalists for professional positions, meaning that applicants with just a bachelor’s degree often do not receive the opportunity to interview. Consequently, working professionals seeking to enhance their career trajectories, change career paths, or just gain knowledge that will make them more successful in their careers are making the master’s degree the fastest-growing degree awarded.
The good news is that there are an increasing number of master’s degree options offered both locally and online that can be used to meet the needs of busy professionals. One of the meaningful trends in graduate education is the increasing availability of accelerated programs. Accelerated programs allow students to complete a graduate degree in a more condensed time, often just one year, usually in an area of specialization. At UNCW in the Cameron School of Business, we have three specialized master’s degrees that fall into this category: Master of Science in accountancy, Master of Computer Science & Information Systems, and our International MBA program.
Other programs cater to a flexible schedule for those employees who need to manage their careers and their education simultaneously. This includes online and hybrid options. Cameron’s Professional MBA program combines one night a week on campus with online learning. The program can be completed in less than two years. While there are many terrific online only options available (and Cameron is working on our own online MBA offering), most students are more motivated to learn when engaged in a real classroom with other students and a dynamic instructor. The professional MBA from UNCW is a great option for those who prefer face-to-face learning, but need to stay in their current jobs to help pay the bills.
Is a master’s degree in your future?
(i) Boldt, Josh. (2013, February 28). Order of Education. Retrieved from: http://orderofeducation.com/degree-inflation/
(ii) Pappano, Laura. (2011, July 22). The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/education/edlife/edl-24masters-t.html
Robert T. Burrus, Jr., Ph.D., is the dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, named in June 2015. Burrus joined the UNCW faculty in 1998. Prior to his current position, Burrus was interim dean, associate dean of undergraduate studies and the chair of the department of economics and finance. Burrus earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics from Wake Forest University. The Cameron School of Business has approximately 60 full-time faculty members and 20 administrative and staff members. The AACSB-accredited business school currently enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students in three degree programs and 200 graduate students in four degree programs. The school also houses the prestigious Cameron Executive Network, a group of more than 200 retired and practicing executives that provide one-on-one mentoring for Cameron students. To learn more about the Cameron School of Business, please visit http://csb.uncw.edu/. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].
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