Bachelor’s degree no longer key to future

Having a bachelor’s degree may not be as useful in the workplace now as it was in the past.

After deciding on a major, students are soon faced with the question of what degree is enough.

Next follows, “how marketable am I with a bachelor’s degree?” “Will I be missing out on opportunities because I chose not to get a higher degree?” And the infamous question, “how much money can I make with just a B.A.?”

The answers to these questions differ from individual to individual. They also differ depending on the area of study.

Some careers do not require a degree beyond the bachelor’s.

Law and medicine are areas in which education beyond the baccalaureate level is required, as explained by Jane E. Levy in an article on

Though many majors offer advanced degrees, many students opt not to pursue such a degree.

However, opting not to obtain a master’s or doctoral degree may make the student less marketable in the corporate arena.

A bachelor’s degree seems to be becoming less marketable and compatible these days.

It’s becoming the equivalent of a high school diploma now compared to 15 years ago, said Chanta M. Haywood, dean of graduate studies and research.

With thousands of students a year graduating with a bachelor’s degree, it may be hard to stand out in the crowd.

Delores Dean, director of FAMU’s Career Center, advises students to use a bachelor’s degree as a stepping stone to get a foot in the door.

“Once hired, see if the employer has a program that pays for additional degrees,” Dean said.

Even if the employer does not pay for further education, Dean still encourages students to take night classes or online classes to get an advanced degree.

Dean said she believes a graduate degree equips students with a competitive edge.

“Having a degree beyond the baccalaureate level makes students more marketable also because it shows that the student is focused and an expert in their field of study,” Haywood said.

Levy agreed.

According to her article, at the graduate level students are expected to have clearly defined interest, which leads to an area of specialization.

Another benefit of having a graduate degree is an increased salary.

“Those with a higher degree may earn $60,000 and up a year starting out as opposed to those with a bachelor’s earning about $35,000 to $50,000 a year,” Dean said.

Pay increases also come when there is movement up the career ladder. Advancing in a career field can be done with ease with a master’s or doctoral degree.

Haywood said there are drawbacks of having just a bachelor’s degree.

“A lot of students are coming back after being out in the workforce, and realizing their earning capacity,” Haywood said.

Dean and Haywood encouraged students to pursue a degree higher than a bachelor’s to make themselves more marketable and compatible in the workplace.

I encourage students to pursue degrees beyond the bachelor’s level to increase career advancement opportunities, to focus and become an expert, to increase chances of making money and to have flexibility and choices, Haywood said.

If a bachelor’s degree is not in the plans right now, there may be little to worry about just yet.

Many students use bachelor’s degrees to acquire entry-level positions.

Students may work in an entry-level position for a while and then go back to school.

According to Levy’s article, among the 20 fastest growing occupations, a bachelor’s or associate degree is the most significant source of education or training for 10 of them.

Students are to be commended for getting a bachelor’s degree because it’s hard work, Haywood said.

There seems to be no sure path to success. However, being marketable seems to be the best approach.

Whatever that entails depends again on the individual and the area of study.

For additional information on what may be the right path for a career, Dean encourages students to stop by the Career Center.

Contact Constance Rush at