MA degree vs BA degree (석사 학위vs학사 학위)

Recently, I have been debating with my family about why I still do not want to pursue a PhD after obtaining two master degrees.  To summarize our lengthy discussion I tried convincing them that living with a MA degree is more valuable than a BA degree – because the job market in my ideal field has exponentially widened based on the degrees that I possess.

However, nearly two years since I graduated from graduate school I have learned that MA degrees (see my other blog on Career Exploring) are valuable, but only in specific agencies, organizations, and companies that want to make sure their staff are not only experienced, but possess further knowledge, research, and practice received from graduate school. These jobs account for roughly 1/3 of jobs on the market.

While looking for employment just like many of my classmates after my graduation in Korea I came to a stark realization that finding work abroad (i.e. in Korea/Asia/ outside of the U.S.) would be harder than once presumed. We, like many former classmates applied to global companies with foreign branches, non-profit organizations, and even rising start-up companies.  However, out of 20+ foreign classmates I talked to only 2 or 3 successfully found work in Seoul, Korea. As for me I managed to receive a handful of interviews with offices related to my area of studies, however, unsuccessfully I was never a final candidate. But, that did not stop me from continuing my job search.

Picture: A draft copy of my Korea University MA Thesis Dissertation (2013)

One benefit to possessing a MA degree in my field of study is the possibility to apply for higher positions within organizations such as The World Bank, IMF, World Vision, UNDP, etc.  in offices around globe. The only pertinent condition is being flexible with re-locating to an office – possibly located in a remote area or region.  Ruling this out leaves small routes for some MA degree holders. In my own case I ruled out this route due to promises I’d made to special people in my life. That being said I based some of my past decisions on poor judgement.

While my past can not be changed I know that I can certainly enter into my desired career path. Being back home has proven that with much more opportunities available across the country. However, competition is the newest issue I am facing. Many millennials like myself have returned or are pursuing higher educational degrees. But, not for MA degree positions, rather for more knowledge. In reality, there are fewer MA degree required positions that I have seen and applied to within the last year. Not because an MA degree possesses no weight, but because BA degrees are sufficient enough.

In my both my recent and current position I did not need to be a MA degree holder. However, due to possessing a MA degree I was viewed as a more refined candidate based on my educational background. This is where MA degree holders might have a higher advantage.  However, I would advise MA degree holders to use this advantage at a company or organization that they’d like to advance their career in. Finding work within your degree field and specific focus should always be viewed as important, as long as your field of study remains an interest of yours. For me, I would like to continue to build up skills & experience in my current position, for my next position. My hope is that alongside with the skills & experience I obtain in my diverse work field, my MA degree will continually be perceived as a strong factor.

While higher educations is important (*in the U.S.) the amount of education needed to work in a basic or non-specialized field is a high-school diploma (GED).  These jobs surprisingly are large in number. However, due to the value and prestige of higher education possessing a BA or even a MA degree is the best choice for young adults today.  For me, possessing a MA degree as mentioned earlier does open up many doors for me, but it also can restrict me based on the actual demand for MA degree holder candidates.

Video Link: me as a grad student at Korea University: Fall/Winter 2013 Gradschool in Korea Video



*Note: All  pictures/ video links posted on this specific blog post are owned by the Yeppunshikan author, usage of these pictures and/or video without the owners consent is strictly prohibited.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. gracecklu says:

    Makes you think: more school or less school, another “traditional” degree (MBA, PhD) or a specialist programme- these are decisions that are no more straight forward. I’m still trying to make peace with some of my professors because I am not convinced that a PhD will solve my problems and they (and a lot of other well-meaning people) just don’t see what I see. God help us. Nice perspective 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. yeppunshikan says:

    I second that. Degrees are a dime a dozen. Some of my close friends presently work in completely opposite fields that they studied in college. After college and 1-2 years of working they all focused more on specialized work and went to boot camps/ weekend & night programme courses to earn new certificates in differing areas from their own degrees. I understand why though. To go where you’ll find the best income. In my case, I am taking the long route and climbing a ladder.


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