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Celestine Joy S.

Rosales Inquiry paper


2018-00798 Eng 13 WFU3

The Value of a Post-Graduate Degree in the Philippines

Introduction

Year after year, colleges and universities in the Philippines produce more than

500,000 fresh graduates that are ready to apply their learned skills and penetrate the

workplace. Amongst them, only 4 out of 10 will get a job one year after their graduation

(Flores qtd. by Orbeta, Gonzales, Cortez, 2016). Besides the high risk of unemployment,

certain barriers can also hinder the hiring of fresh graduates. Some of these could be the

conflict between the graduates’ skills and the demand of employers, the surplus of graduates

and/or lack of opportunities in the area of specialization, or lower pay than the graduate’s

expectation (Orbeta, Gonzales, Cortez, 2016).

One of the options that a job seeker can do to increase employability in this overly

competitive job market is to apply for a postgraduate degree. This could be a great addition in

a curriculum vitae and enables one to apply for higher-level jobs, which can be likened to a

better pay (“Can Graduate Schools Make you Rich?).

This value runs true and can be manifested in the education sector. In S.Y. 2018-2019

alone, 40.6% of the University of the Philippines Diliman enrollees are postgraduate students

(“UP Diliman - Enrolment Statistics”). This includes those enrolled for obtaining a Juris

Doctor as well as master’s degree and doctor’s degree of various disciplines. If almost half of

the national university’s enrollment is composed of those in the postdoctoral degree, then it

can be said that the institution and the students' place postdoctoral degree in high importance.

It can be further said that such importance can be in hopes of becoming a better job candidate

in the excessively competitive job market of the Philippines. This paper aims to make an

inquiry of why we place such values in a postdoctoral degree and what we sacrifice in

partaking in such value.


Body

What are the immediate merits of having a postdoctoral degree? According to

Northeastern University Graduate Programs (Shulsinger), having at least a master’s degree

enables one to advance their career and increase their earning potential. In the Philippines, a

person with at least tertiary education or higher earns 77.24% than those with a secondary

degree in 2006. This margin is also expected to grow since having tertiary education or

higher is estimated to have an annualized growth rate of 0.94%, highest if stratified according

to educational status (Hasan & Handoc, 2009 12). Employers are also looking for hiring those

with more advanced degrees, saying that companies have raised their educational standard

requirements in the last five years (Nauen). Training received in the master's program can

help increase exposure in a person’s chosen field and as a result, gives specialized knowledge

to advance in this chosen field. Obtaining a master’s degree and other further studies allow

increased contact to meet people related to chosen fields and enhance a person’s professional

network (Shulsinger).

While some may argue that postgraduate degrees supplements employability

and helps in getting a promotion, in some institutions, having postgraduate degrees is

obligatory. It serves as a requirement of qualification for hiring and promotion. In the

University of the Philippines System for instance, instructors are hired based on the

expectation that they are to undertake graduate courses. The university also requires that the

instructor enroll in a reputable institution that is recognized by the university and must finish

within prescribed time periods. To climb up the ranks, the teacher must have finished his or

her master’s degree and must have started doctoral studies to be promoted to assistant

professor levels. Associate Professor and Professor titles on the other hand, require a PhD or

any equivalent terminal degree. On top of postdoctoral studies and teaching, the faculty

member is also expected to participate in research or creative work and provide service to the
university and the larger community (UP Systems Manual Series 2: Shaping Our Institutional

Future: A Statement on Faculty Tenure, Rank, and Promotion 17; 21)

Ideals like these also persists in elementary and secondary educational

institutions. The Department of Education for instance, promotes teachers from Teacher 3 to

Master Teacher 1 if the teacher has been regularized, has had at least three years of

experience, and have very satisfactory performance. However, to reach Master Teacher 2, the

teacher must have already completed his or her master’s degree (Tanauan).

The salary grade of teachers working in the government with a rank of teacher

3 falls under salary grade 13, earning about PHP 25,232. Promotion to be a Master Teacher 1

raises it to salary grade 18 while earning the title Master Teacher 2 increases it to salary grade

19. Salary grade 19 allows one to earn PHP 45,269. (“DepEd Teachers Salary Grade | SSL

Third Tranche (2018)” ). This implies that a teacher in the government service could either

mature in years and experience waiting to be promoted to Master Teacher 1 or hasten the

process by just getting a master’s degree among other requirements. In this example,

postgraduate degree units made a difference in earning potential by 20,000 pesos more

monthly.

Since employers use postgraduate degrees as prerequisite for job opportunities and

promotion, most people opt to work and study higher degrees at the same time. Studying full-

time is not an option to all since not everyone has the financial capacity to pursue extra

education without compromising earning for basic needs. Thus, pursuing post-graduate

studies while managing work can have pronounced lifestyle impact.

In the article “How hard did they have to work for their Ph.D.?”, Dr. Jofre M. Alajar,

who has earned his Doctorate in Business Administration in San Beda College recalled how

the experience was for him during those times:


“But pursuing graduate studies involved some self-sacrifice, like

waking up at 3 a.m. to work on the voluminous research assignments, to write

my doctoral dissertation, etc. Sundays were also devoted to study. Being a

working student, time management was important to be able to study well for

my post-graduate course, and still be efficient and effective at work.” (Alajar

as qtd. by Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Sleep deprivation is an issue notorious even during undergraduate studies (Heshner,

2015). Such habits have seemed to continue in post graduate studies. It was found in a study

that 65% postgraduate students have inadequate sleep and poor sleep quality. Fifty percent of

the participants even recall daytime dysfunction while sixty percent report night time waking

or early morning waking (Garg et al). Increase in workload brought about by studying and

working have seemed to aggravate sleeping conditions among post graduate students. Aside

from which, it can also be noted that graduate students have life outside work and academe

and are also in their adult formation years, where there is a need to build relationships and

satisfy current responsibilities.

Conclusion

The value of a postgraduate degree lies in its ability to hasten career goals and

get better job opportunities while increasing specialized knowledge and professional network

in the field of interest. Some institutions, more commonly in the academe settings, hold

postgraduate degree in high regards such that acquiring it becomes the standard of

qualification for both hiring and advancing in the career ladder. This pushes most of the

students to pursue higher education while working in the job that uses it as a criterion for

growth. However, this inquiry does not in any way intend to degrade or belittle the standards

placed upon by educational institutions, as the demonstrations cited were mostly from
education, in safeguarding the quality of instructors and the education system alike. In this

context, postgraduate education was seen as an objective qualifier of ensuring that a person

holds credibility to acquire a position, when it is not always the case. This paper recognizes

its limitation of not looking into how a postgraduate degree affects other field aside from the

academe such as engineering, law or medicine.

In conclusion, in the Philippine setting, post graduate degrees is seen as a costly

investment that expects its students to undergo physical, mental, and financial strains with an

expectation of greater return in the future. However, acquisition of post-graduate degree

allows only greater chance at survival in the labor market but does not systematically solve

the unemployment and job mismatch problem in the Philippines. The society that values a

postgraduate degree promotes a survival of the fittest idealism wherein the one with the best

skill set and had better opportunities will thrive. It further begs the question of whom has set

the standard that allows these ideals to persist regardless of how it affects the people under it,

may it be having or not having a higher degree. More analyses are recommended on

answering what forces the system to view education as investment and humans as capital

regardless of its cost.


References
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“The Benefits of a Master's Degree in Today's Job Market.” Northeastern University

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