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The Effects of a Master’s Degree on Wage and Job Satisfaction in Massified Higher Education: The Case of South Korea

Abstract

Despite the massive expansion of postgraduate education in many countries, few studies have been performed to examine the association between graduates possessing a master’s degree and their labour market outcomes. We therefore used panel survey data from the 2011 to 2013 Graduates Occupational Mobility Survey to analyse the effects of master’s degrees on wage levels and job satisfaction in South Korea, which has experienced a rapid expansion of postgraduate education. We found that master’s degrees are, overall, associated negatively with wage levels, but positively with job satisfaction. These effects, however, differed by discipline, with a master’s degree in a hard discipline being significantly associated with higher job satisfaction, but a master’s degree in a soft discipline being significantly associated with lower wages. We interpreted these results in light of the economic and social contexts of higher education and the labour market for graduates in Korea. Our results have policy implications at the national and institutional levels in terms of qualification frameworks, curricula, employability and institutional support for career development, with consideration for differences between disciplines.

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Lee, S.J., Kim, S. & Jung, J. The Effects of a Master’s Degree on Wage and Job Satisfaction in Massified Higher Education: The Case of South Korea. High Educ Policy 33, 637–665 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41307-020-00200-2

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Keywords

  • master’s degree
  • labour market outcomes
  • wage
  • job satisfaction
  • South Korea