Global Survey Confirms Most Career Expectations Match Reality Among Specialised Masters Graduates

The future remains bright for business education graduates, but survey organiser cautions against unrealistic expectations

A combined 60% of Masters graduates got a higher salary or their first job as a result of their degree. These and other trends have been identified by Advent Group in a voluntary annual survey among 2,000 prospective, current and past business education students from 24 countries around the world. The study, called “Trends in International Postgraduate Business Education” aims to discern expectations from reality by asking the same questions to candidates and students on one hand, and graduates on the other.

“We wanted to compare the current success of Masters and MBA graduates to the initial expectations of candidates, whom we consult every day”, Christophe Coutat, CEO and Founder of Advent Group said.

“What we can say is that business education continues to net good results for those who choose to pursue it, but preliminary expectations often differ from reality”.

Masters candidates expect bigger impact on salary

The Masters segment in the survey is comprised of three groups: candidates who have either just graduated undergraduate school or have little professional experience, usually around 2 years; students undertaking full-time or part-time Specialised Masters degrees, and graduates with more than 5 years of full-time work experience.

Almost half of Masters candidates (45%) expect that their postgraduate degree will get them a better-paying job, while more than a quarter hope that their education will help them specialise in a different professional field or subfield. Less than 10% say that they hope to secure their first job as a result of their degree.

However, only 29% of graduates acknowledge that they are able to attain higher salaries as a result of their degrees.

This is a critical deviation from reality faced by Masters graduates, not only because the gap is considerable percentage-wise, but also because it represents the most impactful factor for better quality of life, according to Advent Group’s Candidate Management Director, Kalin Yanev, PhD.

“When it comes to specialising in a different career fields or subfield, however, Masters students appear to be closer to reality with 29% of candidates expecting this result, and 28% of graduates achieving it”, Yanev acknowledged.

Masters programmes meet expectations for practical skills

The most common answer out of seven possible options on the expected academic impact of a Masters education among candidates is the ability to receive “practical skills and knowhow” (22%). In a crucial corroboration between expectations and reality, this was also the most popular answer among graduates (26%)

“There is a certain feeling of satisfaction when looking at these numbers”, said Advent Group’s CEO, “In the minds of most people, this is exactly what Masters programmes are supposed to accomplish – turn college graduates into practising professionals”

An optimistic confirmation of this trend is the fact that a mere 6 percent of Specialised Masters graduates are currently unemployed, according to the study.

Unrealistic Masters expectations for a global career

More than 70% of prospective and current Masters students claim that they expect the Masters degree to open the door for an international career, which will take them around the world, but the majority (more than 60%) of graduates end up staying and working in the country where they studied.

“Although the exact numbers differ from segment to segment, the trend here is obvious”, remarked Yanev, “candidates and students in both the MBA and Masters markets expect an international postgraduate degree to lead to an international career”.

“However, many jobs out there simply do not require this level of mobility, and this is especially true for Masters graduates, who are mostly valued for their professional skills”

“And professional skills are often about being “in the now”, providing daily expertise and solving immediate problems”, concluded Dr. Yanev.  

Advent Group is an independent media agency specialised in the higher education sector, and the organiser of the Access MBA and Access Masters Tours. Each year the Access MBA and Access Masters Tours introduce 40,000 candidates to 200 top business schools at over 100 events around the globe.



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