Future of Work

Which degree will get you hired?

Image: Profile of students taking their seats for the diploma ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge

Image: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Arwen Armbrecht
Writer and social media producer, Freelance
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Future of Work

How much education is enough to get your dream job? If you aim to be an accountant, a bachelor's should suffice. But a master's in computer science might give you an edge. If you want a job in electrical engineering, you might need to stay at university a few years longer to get a doctorate. It really depends on what you study, according to a new poll by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

The NACE asked 201 US companies which degrees they look for most when hiring. While those who had achieved a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance or business management were highly valued, there was substantially less demand for such skills at a higher level. Computer science was the most consistent degree, scoring second for bachelor's, first for master's and second again for a doctorate. STEM studies were the big winners, which seems to underline the increasing need from companies for people who can adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Bachelor's degree

Accounting scored highest for those with a bachelor's degree, followed by computer science and finance.

Master's degree

The much-coveted MBA came in at only sixth place, while STEM degrees dominated the top five.

Doctorate

As with master's degrees, STEM studies were most highly valued by companies considering candidates with a doctorate.

But those who studied social sciences need not despair. While social science and humanities majors didn't make any of the lists, 40 of the 201 surveyed companies said they were hiring communications majors, while a further 33 were looking for economics graduates. Language and literature graduates have the toughest time, according to the data. Only eight employers said they were interested in such degrees.

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