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ERIC Number: ED568521
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 198
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3038-5575-7
Major Employers' Hiring Practices and the Evolving Function of the Professional Master's Degree
Gallagher, Sean R.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Northeastern University
Across the last decade, master's degree attainment has grown dramatically in the United States, as bachelor's degrees have become more common and economic growth has been driven by knowledge industries. A significant value and purpose of degrees is their use as qualifications for jobs. Despite the prominence of degrees in the hiring process, why and how employers use degrees as professional credentials has largely gone unexamined. This study fills this gap by focusing on understanding the role and use of the master's degree in employer hiring decisions. The study used a qualitative, interview-based methodology, gathering data through interviews with human resources executives and other leaders at 19 major for-profit corporations that collectively employ 3 million individuals and represent $1 trillion in annual revenue. The study finds that employers' use of the master's degree as a professional credential is growing moderately and that the master's is a frequently preferred but rarely required qualification. Employers use the master's as a screening tool as much as a discrete demonstration of hard skills/competency, consistent with the screening and signaling variation of human capital theory. The study also revealed that the value of master's degrees is tightly coupled with professional experience and that the master's is often a key qualification for leadership roles; program-specific reputation is particularly valued; and that very few employers are analyzing the relationship between educational credentials and post-hire employee performance. As a result, there are numerous implications for universities, employers, students, and policymakers, including but not limited to: recognizing the function of the degree as a competitive differentiator; matching program elements and content with employer interests; monitoring the evolving market for graduate credentials; considering the importance of professional work experience; and evaluating opportunities for data-driven analytics and assessment. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A