• C++ Programming for Financial Engineering
    Highly recommended by thousands of MFE students. Covers essential C++ topics with applications to financial engineering. Learn more Join!
    Python for Finance with Intro to Data Science
    Gain practical understanding of Python to read, understand, and write professional Python code for your first day on the job. Learn more Join!
    An Intuition-Based Options Primer for FE
    Ideal for entry level positions interviews and graduate studies, specializing in options trading arbitrage and options valuation models. Learn more Join!

Is Master the new Bachelor degree?

Do you think employers are using Master as the new filter now? Do you think the increasing popularity of Master degree is a reflection of degree inflation, employer demand or else?

NYT has a very interesting article today. Follow are some selected quotes
Call it credential inflation. Once derided as the consolation prize for failing to finish a Ph.D. or just a way to kill time waiting out economic downturns, the master’s is now the fastest-growing degree. The number awarded, about 657,000 in 2009, has more than doubled since the 1980s, and the rate of increase has quickened substantially in the last couple of years, says Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools. Nearly 2 in 25 people age 25 and over have a master’s, about the same proportion that had a bachelor’s or higher in 1960.
Colleges are turning out more graduates than the market can bear, and a master’s is essential for job seekers to stand out — that, or a diploma from an elite undergraduate college, says Richard K. Vedder, professor of economics at Ohio University and director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
Not only are we developing “the overeducated American,” he says, but the cost is borne by the students getting those degrees. “The beneficiaries are the colleges and the employers,” he says. Employers get employees with more training (that they don’t pay for), and universities fill seats. In his own department, he says, a master’s in financial economics can be a “cash cow” because it draws on existing faculty (“we give them a little extra money to do an overload”) and they charge higher tuition than for undergraduate work. “We have incentives to want to do this,” he says. He calls the proliferation of master’s degrees evidence of “credentialing gone amok.” He says, “In 20 years, you’ll need a Ph.D. to be a janitor.”
Laura Georgianna, in charge of employee development at Welch Allyn, confirms that given two otherwise equal résumés, the master’s wins. A master’s degree “doesn’t guarantee that someone will be much more successful,” she says. “It says that this person is committed and dedicated to the work and has committed to the deep dive. It gives you further assurance that this is something they have thought about and want.”
It may be uncomfortable for academia to bend itself to the marketplace, but more institutions are trying.

In what could be a sign of things to come, the German department at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is proposing a Ph.D. aimed at professionals. Candidates, perhaps with an eye toward the European Union, would develop cultural understanding useful in international business and organizations. It would be time-limited to four years — not the current “12-year ticket to oblivion,” says John A. Stevenson, dean of the graduate school. And yes, it would include study abroad and internships.
 

atreides

Graduate Student
Back in the day you could easily get by, get a decent job and raise a family with a high school degree.
 
Back in the day you could easily get by, get a decent job and raise a family with a high school degree.

After WW2, yes. Then gradually it became an associate's degree, then a bachelor's degree, now a master's degree. And I'm not convinced that the extra credentialing and extra time spent is making those undergoing the process more "educated."
 
Well, I did learn R from my MS degree. And got some exposure to some more advanced statistical concepts. So I don't think it was a *total* rip-off.

But yeah, any MFE/MSMF/whatever you want to call them = cash cow for any university these days.
 

Diego Calderon

Grad Student
Education is no longer intended to educate, instead U.S. colleges and universities have for the most part turned this process into a $-making machine like everything else. The U.S. was after all founded on capitalism, and still is a capitalist society.

Every part of my graduate experience is centered around COSTS; right down to the graduate cafe charging higher prices than the undergraduate cafe...WTF!?
 

Diego Calderon

Grad Student
I was actually thinking the other day that they should invent a new degree in between the Masters and the PhD - but it's probably cheaper to just get your CFA ;)
 
this thread was started a while ago : What is the true half - life of a bachelors degree? Interesting to see these topics keep coming up
And just as the NYT wonders at the end of the article: "It does, however, prompt the question: Will the Ph.D. become the new master’s?"
In the absence of a degree between MS and PhD like @groutgass suggests, it may not be of a stretch to think of PhD replacing MFE degrees for quant roles 30 years from now.
 
It's a vicious cycle. Employers start filtering candidates by masters degree, which forces students to get a masters which creates the opportunity for employers to filter....

But I don't think that a PhD will ever become the new masters so I'm curious to see what happens next.
 
I was actually thinking the other day that they should invent a new degree in between the Masters and the PhD - but it's probably cheaper to just get your CFA

In Britain there is such a degree and it's called an "M.Phil." You take some courses, and you write a little dissertation -- but it need not contain anything original. It merely has to show deep reading and understanding of a particular area. Ph.D. students typically start as M.Phil students and then if their advisor thinks they're making real progress, puts them on the Ph.D. track.

Grade and credential inflation is not confined to the US. It's more or less throughout the world -- Europe and Asia.
 

Abdel

Economist
It is symptomatic of governement intervention in any sector.

Health care, education, transportation etc. prices go up and quality goes down
 
Well if one school grade inflates and the other one doesn't, then the first school's grads have a massive advantage.

I mean let's see...

3.8, 3.73, 3.91, 3.65, and a 3.32.

Do they say "inflated" x4, and "legitimate grades" x1, or "smart" x4 and "dumb" x1?

What I hear is that Ivy League schools make sure to grade inflate so that their grads get good jobs because once you have that name on your resume, why would your own alma mater want to shoot you in the foot?

I remember one story that one university just up and raised everyone's GPAs by .3 one morning. That is, Joe Schmo could have been running a 2.9, suddenly wakes up, and wham, 3.2.

Just goes to show that the GPA is a garbage metric to begin with. IMO it should be done away with completely, and if employers want to know the quality of a candidate, then look at his transcripts please.
 

atreides

Graduate Student
Well if one school grade inflates and the other one doesn't, then the first school's grads have a massive advantage.

I mean let's see...

3.8, 3.73, 3.91, 3.65, and a 3.32.

Do they say "inflated" x4, and "legitimate grades" x1, or "smart" x4 and "dumb" x1?

What I hear is that Ivy League schools make sure to grade inflate so that their grads get good jobs because once you have that name on your resume, why would your own alma mater want to shoot you in the foot?

I remember one story that one university just up and raised everyone's GPAs by .3 one morning. That is, Joe Schmo could have been running a 2.9, suddenly wakes up, and wham, 3.2.

Just goes to show that the GPA is a garbage metric to begin with. IMO it should be done away with completely, and if employers want to know the quality of a candidate, then look at his transcripts please.

solution -> force all schools to inflate which normalizes things (of course, this will never happen). At school A the maximum GPA is 4.3/4.0 and school B 4.0/4.0. If John Doe's GPA from school B is rescaled to school's A standard he ends up with a higher GPA... but my guess is a good majority of HR folks are only concerned with absolute numbers.
 
but my guess is a good majority of HR folks are only concerned with absolute numbers.

The grade inflation is directed at HR departments -- personnel, computers, and sifting algorithms. If you're personally interviewing two or three candidates, and one candidate can't respond intelligently or coherently, you're going to strike him off regardless of his GPA.

The grade inflation has been taking place at the same time as the overall quality of education has been going down. It shows the perils of looking at numbers while ignoring the changing reality behind those numbers.
 
solution -> force all schools to inflate which normalizes things (of course, this will never happen). At school A the maximum GPA is 4.3/4.0 and school B 4.0/4.0. If John Doe's GPA from school B is rescaled to school's A standard he ends up with a higher GPA... but my guess is a good majority of HR folks are only concerned with absolute numbers.

How do you know which schools inflate? Plus, say you do have a grade inflating school that's never ever showed a GPA above 4.0. Rather, instead of a bell-shaped curve with mean 3, SD of .3 or something, now it's right skewed with the median at 3.5--meaning that many more students are just that much more studious (which can be true at Ivy leagues), or there's some inflation going on.

Either way: if people in HR could do good enough statistical analysis to know which schools were inflating and which weren't, they wouldn't be in HR.

Grade inflation exists simply to fool HR and sifting algorithms. That's all.
 

Diego Calderon

Grad Student
I went to a school that has had near 0% grade inflation since its inception: Reed College. Check it out. I worked my ass off only to graduate with < 3.0 GPA and ever since then I've realized that other people who graduated around the same time as me and received Sigma Cum, actually learned very little. GPA is no indication of what you learned, only how easy the profs were on you.
 

Diego Calderon

Grad Student
In Britain there is such a degree and it's called an "M.Phil." You take some courses, and you write a little dissertation -- but it need not contain anything original. It merely has to show deep reading and understanding of a particular area. Ph.D. students typically start as M.Phil students and then if their advisor thinks they're making real progress, puts them on the Ph.D. track.

Grade and credential inflation is not confined to the US. It's more or less throughout the world -- Europe and Asia.

Just another indicator that the UK is ahead of the US - it is my opinion that the US should just give up wholeheartedly its position as world hegemon and take a back-seat position like the UK....they would be much more happy this way.
 
Just another indicator that the UK is ahead of the US - it is my opinion that the US should just give up wholeheartedly its position as world hegemon and take a back-seat position like the UK....they would be much more happy this way.
Ummm...I can't tell if you're being serious or not...
 
I went to a school that has had near 0% grade inflation since its inception: Reed College. Check it out. I worked my ass off only to graduate with < 3.0 GPA and ever since then I've realized that other people who graduated around the same time as me and received Sigma Cum, actually learned very little. GPA is no indication of what you learned, only how easy the profs were on you.

It's the curse of our modern era that everything has been reduced to numbers. Our intelligence (IQ), our scholastic potential (SAT, GRE), our academic achievement (GPA). And these numbers are so misleading. Yet these are what are used to assess our suitability for further "education," and our suitability for employment. As #6 says in The Prisoner, "I am not a number! I am a free man!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zE-EMinj69o&feature=fvwrel

(Incidentally the clip also demonstrates the way one should submit one's resignation.)
 
Top