Advertisement

Exploring the factors of pursuing a master’s degree in South Korea

  • Jisun Jung
  • Soo Jeung LeeEmail author
Article

Abstract

The aim of this study is to explore the various factors involved in pursuing a master’s degree for university graduates in South Korea. After reviewing theoretical frameworks, including human and social capital theories, an analytical model was constructed to examine the different academic and economic factors involved in pursuing a master’s degree, considering different institutional backgrounds. The data used were collected from the Graduates Occupational Mobility Survey conducted by the Korean Employment Information Service. We obtained the data from 11,960 respondents who graduated from university in 2013. Descriptive statistics and logistics regression were used in the analysis. The results show that gender, age and family socioeconomic status affected students’ decision to pursue a master’s degree. In addition, academic background factors, such as discipline, satisfaction with undergraduate study and intrinsic motivation for the choice of major, had positive effects on enrolment in master’s degrees. However, active participation in the job search process during undergraduate study had negative effects on the decision. Students in research universities in major cities were more likely to pursue a master’s degree than those in teaching-oriented universities in local provinces. This study has implications for the motivations, demands and career paths of postgraduate students taking master’s degrees.

Keywords

Master’s degree University graduates Academic motivation Economic motivation South Korea 

Notes

References

  1. Austin, A. E. (2002). Preparing the next generation of faculty. The Journal of Higher Education, 73(1), 94–122.Google Scholar
  2. Becker, G. S. (1962). Investment in human capital: a theoretical analysis. The Journal of Political Economy, 70(5), 9–49.Google Scholar
  3. Bilder, A. E., & Conrad, C. E. (1996). Challenges in assessing outcomes in graduate and professional education. New Directions for Institutional Research, 92, 5–15.Google Scholar
  4. Boylan, M. (2009). Undergraduate STEM research experiences: impact on student interest in doing graduate work in STEM fields. In R. G. Ehrenberg & C. V. Kuh (Eds.), Doctoral education and the faculty of the future (pp. 109–119). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Committee on Enhancing the Master’s degree in the Natural Sciences. (2008). Science professionals: master’s education for a competitive world. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  6. Conrad, C., Haworth, J. G., & Millar, S. B. (1993). A silent success: master’s education in the United States. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Dinwoodie, J. (2001). Motivational profiling of logistic master’s students in Great Britain. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics, 31(3), 187–202.Google Scholar
  8. Drennan, J. (2012). Masters in nursing degrees: an evaluation of management and leadership outcomes using a retrospective pre-test design. Journal of Nursing Management, 20, 102–112.Google Scholar
  9. Dumais, S. A. (2002). Cultural capital, gender, and school success: the role of habitus. Sociology of Education, 75(1), 44–68.Google Scholar
  10. Edirisinghe, R., & Fraser, K. (2015). The masters of sustainable practice: a review of a program for working professionals. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 30(2), 239–253.Google Scholar
  11. Edwards, D. (2011). Monitoring risk and return: critical insights into graduate coursework engagement and outcomes AUSSE Research Briefing (Vol. 9). Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research.Google Scholar
  12. English, D., & Umbach, P. D. (2016). Graduate school choice: an examination of individual and institutional effects. The Review of Higher Education, 39(2), 173–211.Google Scholar
  13. Fox, M. (1992). Student debt and enrollment in graduate and professional school. Applied Economics, 24, 669–677.Google Scholar
  14. Glazer-Raymo, J. (2005). Professionalizing graduate education: the master’s degree in the marketplace. ASHE Higher Education Report, 31(4).Google Scholar
  15. Hartman, D. E., & Schmidt, S. L. (1995). Understanding student/alumni satisfaction from a consumer’s perspective: the effects of institutional performance and program outcomes. Research in Higher Education, 36(2), 197–217.Google Scholar
  16. Haworth, J. G., & Conrad, C. E. (1997). Emblems of quality in higher education: developing and sustaining high-quality programs. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  17. Hearn, J. C. (1987). Impacts of undergraduate experiences on aspirations and plans for graduate and professional education. Research in Higher Education, 27, 119–141.Google Scholar
  18. Heller, D. E. (2001). Debts and decisions: student loans and their relationship to graduate school and career choice. New Agenda Series. Volume 3, Number 4. Lumina Foundation for Education.Google Scholar
  19. Hirt, J. B., & Mufflo, J. A. (1996). Graduate students: institutional climates and disciplinary cultures. New Directions for Institutional Research, 92, 17–33.Google Scholar
  20. Hultberg, P., Calonge, D. S., & Kim, S.-H. (2017). Education policy in South Korea: a contemporary model of human capital accumulation? Cogent Economics and Finance, 5(1), 1–16.Google Scholar
  21. Jung, J. (2018a). Domestic and overseas doctorates and their academic job entries in South Korea. Asian Education and Development Studies, 7(2), 205–222.Google Scholar
  22. Jung, J. (2018b). Higher education in Korea: Western influences, Asian values and indigenous processes. Journal of Asian Public Policy, 11(1), 1–13.Google Scholar
  23. Jung, J., & Lee, S. J. (2016). Influence of university prestige on graduate wage and job satisfaction: the case of South Korea. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 38(3), 297–315.Google Scholar
  24. Kim, C.-U., & Lim, G. (2012). Social returns to college education: evidence from south Korean college education. Applied Economics Letters, 19(16), 1537–1541.Google Scholar
  25. Kniola, D., Chang, M., & Olsen, D. (2012). Transformative graduate education programs: an analysis of impact on STEM and non-STEM Ph.D. completion. Higher Education, 63, 473–495.Google Scholar
  26. Korean Statistical Information Service (2014) Household survey data. http://kosis.kr/eng/. Accessed 27 Sept 2017.
  27. Lee, S., & Brinton, M. C. (1996). Elite education and social capital: the case of South Korea. Sociology of Education, 69(3), 177–192.Google Scholar
  28. Millett, C. M. (2003). How undergraduate loan debt affects application and enrollment in graduate or first professional school. The Journal of Higher Education, 74(4), 386–427.Google Scholar
  29. Ministry of Education (MOE). (2005). Strategies for mission stratification in higher education institution, Korea. South Korea: Ministry of Education (In Korean.).Google Scholar
  30. Monk, J., & Foote, K. E. (2015). Directions and challenges of master’s programs in geography in the United States. The Professional Geographer, 67(3), 472–481.Google Scholar
  31. Monk, J., Foote, K. E., & Schlemper, M. B. (2012). Graduate education in U.S. geography: students’ career aspirations and faculty perspectives. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 102(6), 1432–1449.Google Scholar
  32. Morelon-Quainoo, C., Johnson, S. D., Winkle-Wagner, R., Kuykendall, J. A., Ingram, T. N., Carter, G. D., et al. (2009). The advanced-degree pipeline for graduate and professional students of color. In M. F. Howard-Hamilton, C. L. Morelon-Quainoo, S. D. Johnson, R. Winkle-Wagner, & L. Santiague (Eds.), Standing on the outside looking in: underrepresented students’ experiences in advanced degree programs (pp. 5–24). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.Google Scholar
  33. Nerad, M., & Miller, D. S. (1996). Increasing student retention in graduate and professional programs. New Directions for Institutional Research, 92, 61–76.Google Scholar
  34. O’Donnell, V., Tobbell, J., Lawthom, R., & Zammit, M. (2009). Transition to postgraduate study: practice, participation and the widening participation agenda. Active Learning in Higher Education, 10(1), 26–40.Google Scholar
  35. Paulsen, M. B., & Pascarella, E. T. (2016). Understanding graduate school aspirations: the effect of good teaching practices. Higher Education, 71, 735–752.Google Scholar
  36. Paulsen, M. B., & Toutkoushian, R. K. (2008). Economic models and policy analysis in higher education: a diagrammatic exposition. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: handbook of theory and research (Vol. XXIII, pp. 1–48). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  37. Perna, L. W. (2004). Understanding the decision to enroll in graduate school: sex and racial/ethnic group differences. The Journal of Higher Education, 75(5), 487–527.Google Scholar
  38. Perna, L. (2006). Studying college access and choice: a proposed conceptual model. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: handbook of theory and research (Vol. XX, pp. I99–I157). The Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
  39. Poock, M. C., & Love, P. G. (2001). Factors influencing the program choice of doctoral students in higher education administration. NASPA Journal, 38(2), 203–223.Google Scholar
  40. Shin, J. C., Jung, J., & Lee, S. J. (2016). Academic inbreeding of Korean professors: academic training, networks, and their performance. In J. F. Galaz-Fontes, A. Arimoto, U. Teichler, & J. Brennan (Eds.), Biographies and careers throughout academic life (pp. 187–206). Springer.Google Scholar
  41. Solem, M., Kollasch, A., & Lee, J. (2013). Career goals, pathways and competencies of geography graduate students in the USA. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 37(1), 92–116.Google Scholar
  42. Syverson, P. D. (1996). Assessing demand for graduate and professional programs. New Directions for Institutional Research, 92, 17–29.Google Scholar
  43. Thomas, S. L., & Perna, L. W. (2004). The opportunity agenda: a reexamination of postsecondary reward opportunity. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: handbook of theory and research (Vol. XIX, pp. 43–84). The Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
  44. Uhm, J.-Y. (2011). An efficiency analysis of the graduate schools using data envelopment analysis. The Journal of Economics and Finance of Education, 20(2), 29–56 (in Korean).Google Scholar
  45. Useem, M., & Karabel, J. (1986). Pathways to top corporate management. American Sociological Review, 51, 184–200.Google Scholar
  46. Van de Werfhorst, H. G., & Anderson, J. (2005). Social background, credential inflation and educational strategies. Acta Sociologica, 48(4), 321–340.Google Scholar
  47. Waters, J. L. (2009). In pursuit of scarcity: transnational students, ‘employability’, and the MBA. Environment and Planning, 41, 1865–1883.Google Scholar
  48. Weiler, W. C. (1991). The effect of undergraduate student loans on the decision to pursue postbaccalaureate study. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 13(3), 212–220.Google Scholar
  49. Wright, E., & Horta, H. (2018). Higher education participation in “high-income” universal higher education systems: “survivalism” in the risk society. Asian Education and Development Studies, 7(2), 184–204.Google Scholar
  50. Wulff, D. H., Austin, A. E., Nyquist, J. D., & Sprague, J. (2004). The development of graduate students as teaching scholars: a four year longitudinal study. In D. H. Wulff & A. E. Austin (Eds.), Paths to the professoriate: strategies for enriching the preparation of future faculty (pp. 46–73). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  51. Youn, H. H. (2015). Linkage between master’s education and employment. In Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (KRIVET) (Ed.), HRD Policy Forum: transition from higher education to labour market to build competency based society. Seoul: Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training, KRIVET Press (In Korean).Google Scholar
  52. Zhang, L. (2005). Advance to graduate education: the effect of college quality and undergraduate majors. The Review of Higher Education, 28(3), 313–338.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of EducationSejong UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

Personalised recommendations