The Master’s Degree bubble has burst


The student loan scam flooded our schools with students when it went into full swing over a decade ago—triggered by the 2008 crash/recession, when many “no degree required” jobs vanished, never to return. A half dozen or so years later, these students flooded the market with their shiny new degrees.

These students were told their degrees would be valuable, and before the degrees were awarded, they were, up to a point. Trouble is, much of the value of a degree comes from its scarcity. Most of the degrees, the common ones, were worth nothing in the job marketplace.

Many of those graduates floundered for a few years before deciding “hey, I need a graduate degree to get a good job.” The same vicious admissions officers who suckered people into getting worthless undergraduate degrees simply repeated the game, enrolling far too many people into Master’s degree programs.

Whenever I look at people with unpayable college debt, invariably the largest numbers come from the poor souls to when back for graduate school, which can easily be twice as expensive as undergraduate, even for a 2 year degree like a Master’s degree.

In any event, the cohort of students who got creamed by undergraduate loans starting in 2008 are now getting creamed by graduate loans. Word has gotten out that Master’s degrees (particularly in Fine Arts, but in many other fields as well) are basically worthless now, for many of the same reasons undergraduate degrees are of little value.

In 2014, the 10 year projection for Master’s awarded was well over a million—our schools hugely expanded their graduate program, as the “leaders” running our system lack even rudimentary understanding of what they’re doing.

In 2019, the 10 year projection is more like 840,000, roughly a 20% drop. As this projection is from the same fools who estimated over a million in 2014, I suspect the drop will be much, much worse.

Has the Master’s Degree Bubble Burst?

Analysis suggests projections of rapid growth in the master’s degree market were vastly overstated.

The article I’m reading here phrases the bubble bursting as a question, but this is rubbish. With undergraduate enrollments falling, with widespread information of just how worthless most Master’s degrees are, this is only going to drop.

…many colleges have overestimated the popularity of new degree programs. They may anticipate awarding hundreds of degrees per year, but the true number is often a single digit…

The article doesn’t address it, but I would like to highlight the horrific mismanagement here. A college opens up a new program, say, a Master’s degree in Dog Breeding, and then uses adjunct, “temp” faculty to teach the dozen or so courses. The administration who came up with the idea gets a fat pay raise based on the ridiculously huge growth projections revolving around 10 year old data.

And then perhaps half a dozen people sign up for the program. Huge money flows into administrative pockets for the loan money even when you have this disaster. But suppose 300 people ended up with a Master’s in Dog Breeding in a couple of years…what lunatic thinks there’s even a minute chance things will go well for more than a handful of the new graduates?

Many Master’s degrees are based around very specialized topics. There are a few general degrees, and those have their own problems.

The Master’s in Education is the most common Master’s degree. Teachers have the loosest schedule, are most able to “take time off” from work to complete a degree program (more accurately, they’ll take most of their coursework over the summer). It’s all well and good, I suppose, but every examination (including my own) of these programs find them to be loaded down with ideology. Granted, “education theory” is such proven rubbish, repeatedly shown to harm students, that replacing that false knowledge with the false knowledge of ideology doesn’t sound all that horrible at first glance…but a look at our schools’ steady conversion into indoctrination camps for the ideology quickly reveals the massive extent of horror here. We really should just annihilate the Master’s in Education and instead insist on our teachers having actual degrees in the subjects they’re supposed to teach (instead of what we have now, where teachers all too often morph their subjects into ideological indoctrination).

Trace Urdan, managing director at Tyton Partners, agrees that the growth in the master’s degree market is a bubble fueled by the “basically unlimited funding” offered by Grad PLUS loans. But he doesn’t agree that the bubble has burst, at least not yet. Growth could easily pick up if the economy took a downward turn, he said.

Seriously, the bubble has burst, despite what the guy above said. I used to never be asked by friends and family (most don’t know me as Professor Doom) about grad school, but now it’s a regular event. I do what I can to steer them away or guide them to what few programs remain which are viable…but years ago, everyone was always just so happy to see their kids go into grad school.

There are still some good schools, some good plans…but far too many traps are laid out for the unsuspecting, and much like with undergraduate school, far too many were enrolled.

Now, I concede that if we get the repeatedly predicted massive economic crash, then perhaps we’ll see massive growth in Master’s again…but I assure the gentle reader, this isn’t a good thing, as one reader reinforces:

We are conferring an astonishing amount of master’s degrees in this country, to the extent that in cities like Boston and DC and San Francisco, they have become the de facto bachelor’s degree.

Perhaps it’s wishful thinking on my part that this bubble has burst, but the fact remains: it really should burst. We’re not doing any good churning out these degrees, any more than we were at the undergraduate level.