Business Majors Could Need a Graduate Degree to Land a Well-Paying Job

Posted By Terri Williams on March 18, 2016 at 10:40 am
Business Majors Could Need a Graduate Degree to Land a Well-Paying Job

A bachelor’s degree in a business-related major typically leads to an in-demand job that pays a starting salary that trumps many other 4-year degrees. In fact, in the 7 major supergroups only STEM and health majors rank higher than business majors in terms of the highest-paying bachelor degree. And 2016 appears to be another stellar hiring year for business grads.

However, a recent report reveals that some employers may be looking for more than just a bachelor’s degree. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2015 Year-End Report, candidates who pursue a graduate degree may have an advantage. Employers are still more likely to hire a candidate with a bachelor’s degree, but graduate degrees are quickly gaining ground:

2016 Hiring Plans by Candidate Type

87% Experienced direct-from-industry hires
80% Bachelor’s degree
75% MBA
59% Nonbusiness Master’s
34% Master in Management
34% Master of Accounting


Employers also plan to increase annual base salaries above the rate of inflation as follows:

2016 Average Annual Base Salaries Compared with 2015 Salaries by Candidate Type

22% Experienced direct-from-industry hires
14% Bachelor’s degree
24% MBA
23% Master of Accounting


Will a bachelor’s degree in business no longer be enough to satisfy employers?

“Undergraduate business majors need a graduate degree in business now more than ever to gain a competitive advantage in the workforce, according to Dr. Neil Trotta, dean of the Fisher College School of Graduate Studies. Trotta tells GoodCall, “An undergraduate degree just scratches the surface; a graduate degree in business provides an education where the students are learning from the end-users’ perspectives,” And as a result, Trotta says the students are making real-world and case-based decisions. And this can provide them with a competitive advantage. But Trotta isn’t the only person who shares this view.

Dennis Yim, director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs for Kaplan Test Prep, thinks it is definitely an advanced-degree holder’s market.  Yim tells GoodCall, “Specifically for MBAs, job placements are up, compensation packages are up and business schools have been doing some serious innovating over the past few years, integrating into their curriculum courses to teach such high in-demand skills like coding and data science.”

And Yim also thinks another interesting trend is developing. “The tech industry is warming up to MBA holders.” Historically, Yim says that many employers in the tech sector didn’t place the same value on MBAs as other traditional sectors, such as consulting and finance, but now the MBA has become quite versatile, making it an in-demand degree in many industries.

However, a degree – in and of itself – is not a guaranteed ticket to career gold. “Success generally comes to an individual who is driven, has a good, solid work ethic, and focuses on the ultimate goal,” says Trotta. And that means that education and/or credentials aren’t the driving force.  He explains, “That is something that inherently comes from within — it’s a reflection of the character of the individual and who he or she is.”

On the other hand, Trotta admits that some companies seek out candidates with advanced degrees because those credentials boost the company’s credibility. “So regardless of how good an individual is or could be, that individual could potentially be overlooked if they don’t have that degree, so they will never really have the opportunity to show what they are capable of in an environment where they could thrive.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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