Saturday, September 15, 2007

Master's Degrees More Popular Than Ever

An article in the September 12, 2007, edition of the New York Times entitled "Master’s Degrees Abound as Universities and Students See a Windfall" by Hannah Fairfield says that the number of students earing master's degrees in the United States "has nearly doubled since 1980. Since 1970, the growth is 150 percent, more than twice as fast as bachelor and doctorate programs."

Students and universities alike see the master's programs as "targets of opportunity," according to George L. Mehaffy, a vice president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Even though the degrees are often expensive and scholarships and fellowships are rare, many say "the price is worth it."

". . . In his two-year master’s program in science technology and environmental policy from the University of Minnesota Craig Nelson had $35,000 in loans. Now, he works in regulatory affairs at the 3M Company.

“'Without the degree, I wouldn’t have the job,' he said. 'So even though I’ll be paying the loan for 10 years, it was a good move for me.' "

Some universities are also "luring master’s students into staying for multiple years by offering dual-degree programs: two master’s degrees at twice the cost. Some programs join international affairs and journalism, science and public policy, business and education. Other schools extend programs; for example, the University of Wisconsin’s two-year master’s degree in anthropology can be lengthened to three years if students want to add a museum studies concentration.

"Rey A. Phillips Santos has three graduate degrees gracing his résumé: two master’s and one in law. After completing the master’s of arts program in the social sciences from the University of Chicago, he decided to go on to the Chicago-Kent College of Law, in a joint-degree program in environmental management with the Stuart Graduate School of Business.

“'There is a huge demand for credentials in high-level jobs now,' said Mr. Phillips, who is a lawyer for the Chicago city government. 'Each of my degrees helped me to get a leg up in the job market, and earn higher salaries than I would have otherwise. They were great investments.'”

Universities are also benefitting from the surge in demand for master's degrees. They can charge higher tuition because the students are often already in the working market and will get even high salaries because of the degrees. They are willing to take out the loans as investments in their future. Universities do not have to provide housing for these students and, as stated earlier, there is not much financial aid involved.

To read the whole article, follow the link at the top of this posting.


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