According to a study by Georgetown University, the unemployment rate for people with advanced degrees is only 3.3 percent. Demand for master’s degrees has risen among college students in recent years as they take advantage of increased employment opportunities and higher earnings through advanced education.
Researchers from a May 2013 study by Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute noted that graduate degrees have helped college graduates increase their employment rates dramatically in recent years. It indicated that both work experience and graduate education were important factors in employment increases, but that graduate education brought unemployment down to the lowest levels.
College graduates in the social sciences without any work experience, for instance, suffered from a 10.3 percent unemployment rate in 2010–2011. After gaining some work experience, the rate dropped to 5.7 percent.
Students with a master’s degree, regardless of their experience level, saw the lowest unemployment rate, with only 4 percent. The researchers found that students who had earned master’s degrees in all degree fields experienced the lowest unemployment compared to both inexperienced and experienced college graduates with a bachelor’s degree.
Advanced degree holders also earn the highest amount of income, according to the Georgetown study. The study pointed out that, compared to college graduates with work experience, students with advanced degrees made more money in all fields of study. Median earnings for business graduates more than doubled from the bachelor’s degree without work experience ($39,000) to the master’s degree holder, with or without experience ($83,000). The bachelor’s degree holder in business with some work experience earned $63,000.
Upon entering higher education, college students are increasingly aiming for a master’s degree as their educational goal. In 2012, a research team at UCLA’s Higher Education and Research Institute found that 42 percent of college freshmen plan to attain a master’s degree. Master’s degrees are by far the most common aspiration, with only 22 percent of freshmen saying they aim for a bachelor’s degree and 19 percent saying they plan to get a Ph.D. or Ed.D.
The research data shows that more and more college graduates are choosing to expand their higher education to the master’s degree for better overall career opportunities no matter what career field they are entering.