Graduates with their master’s, for instance, are less than half a percent more likely to be employed than those with only undergraduate educations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, although master’s degrees are associated with an average salary increase of nearly $12,000, earnings benefits vary greatly by discipline. Data from Payscale.com suggest that master’s graduates in some fields (such as literature and history) do not increase their earnings at all. For students in those fields, earning a master’s degree may most notably lead to a large amount of debt. The biggest boost from a master’s degree accrues for students in science and engineering fields.
While employment and earnings data do not suggest that a master’s degree boxes out bachelor’s recipients from getting jobs, master’s degrees may have different benefits beyond measurable employment data. A key advantage of a master’s degree may be helping grads boost their job satisfaction instead of salary. For example, a master’s degree could secure a history- or literature-related job for a worker even though bachelor’s graduates could have earned a similar salary doing work unrelated to their field of study. The job of a worker with a bachelor’s degree would be less satisfying to them than the one they would hold after earning a master’s degree. In other words, master’s degrees may give the same edge over fellow job applicants and entry-level employees that used to be the benefit of a bachelor’s degree.
The sharp increase in master’s degrees indicates that undergraduate degrees—once the hallmark of intellectualism and achievement—are now losing their relative value. What was once exceptional has become a basic requirement. Despite the extra expense, the growing market for master’s degrees suggests that students see value in earning one.
Yet, for the edge it gives workers during the job hunt, choosing to earn a master’s has a hefty cost: Of graduates with educational debt, those with master’s degrees owed a median of $56,049 in 2016 for their undergraduate and graduate degrees, more than double the debt of those with only undergraduate degrees. And the debt burden is increasing—since 2012, theaverage master’s graduate’s debt has gone up almost $5,000.
Outside of STEM most Master’s Degree programs are pure garbage. Nothing but cash cows for schools that only make the student debt crisis worse.