Go to contents

Graduate Degree Holders Are Paid Less

Posted December. 02, 2005 07:02,   


Kim (24, female) graduated from a university in a local province with a major in biology. With a 3.0 GPA, she scored lower than 700 on the TOEIC test.

In an effort to get a job in finance at a large conglomerate, she applied for positions with scores of companies, but to no avail. She is now working as an instructor for middle school students at a private institute.

Park (28), who will graduate from a university in the Metropolitan area with a major in mechanical engineering, joined an electronics subsidiary of a large company this October. With a 4.0 GPA, he scored higher than 800 on the TOEIC test.

It was found that a number of factors, including the location of a university that an applicant graduated from, the major, the undergraduate GPA, and TOEIC score have a great impact on employment prospects. Furthermore, SAT score has a significant impact on the level of wages.

This is what the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (KRIVET) has found in one-on-one interviews with, and statistical analysis of 2,000 people who graduated from universities in 2001.

According to KRIVET’s report on the employment of university graduates, which Dong-A Ilbo obtained exclusively, graduates of universities in the Metropolitan area who scored higher than a 3.0 GPA and higher than 800 on the TOEIC test turned out to have advantages in seeking employment. And contrary to the general perception, graduate school graduates were found to land lower-quality jobs than undergraduate graduates.

The survey indicated that university graduates in the Metropolitan area are 9 percent more likely to land regular jobs than local university graduates, while those who scored higher than 800 on the TOEIC test are 10 percent more likely to get regular jobs than those who scored lower than 700.

And only 69.9 percent of graduates with the GPA of 2.0 or worse became regular workers, while 80 percent of graduates with A or B averages landed regular jobs. The difference in the employment rate between graduates with A and B averages stands at a meager 0.2 percent.

SAT score is also found to be an important factor in deciding wages. The top 30 percent of graduates were found to earn an average of 610,000 won more a month than the bottom 30 percent of graduates.

Those who scored more than 800 on the TOEIC test made an average of 180,000 won more a month than those who scored less than 700. The average salaries for each major are 2.17 million for engineering majors, 2.15 million for sociology majors, 1.98 million won for education majors, 1.94 million for science majors, 1.87 million for humanities majors, and 1.66 million for art and physics majors.

Those who continue their studies at a different university or at a graduate school after graduation turned out to have little advantage in salary and employment opportunity compared to other ordinary undergraduate graduates. Graduate school graduates earn an average of 220,000 won less a month than undergraduate graduates. And they are twice more likely to land non-regular jobs than undergraduate graduates, as 11.3 percent of them became non-regular workers. Their unemployment rate is 16.8 percent, higher than that of undergraduate graduates (12.2 percent).

Se-Jin Jung mint4a@donga.com ditto@donga.com