Master’s degrees are a big scam and have essentially become a money-making scheme that is blurring the line between for-profit and nonprofit educational institutions.
The greed of elite universities is to blame for the growing student debt accumulated while students pursue master’s degrees in fields where job opportunities are limited, making it hard to repay their loans, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
For instance, the Columbia School of Journalism offers a 10-month master’s degree from September to June that costs around $70,000. This is among thousands of career-oriented programs out there. You can enroll at Harvard University from any laptop on the planet as long as you can pay the right amount.
Students have accumulated massive debts while pursuing master’s degrees at elite universities in fields such as drama and film, where the job prospects are limited and there is little chance of earning enough to repay the debt.
“Graduates of Columbia University who took out federal student loans had a median debt of $181,000.
Half of the borrowers were making less than $30,000 a year,” WSJ reported.
Several things lure people across the world to take on a master’s degree. Some feel that a master’s improves their credentials and thus employment opportunities. They expect that the advanced education will allow them to outcompete the growing number of people with bachelor’s degrees.
Twitter user Abdul Golden learned the hard way. “As a man with 2 masters degrees i can say the truth hurts..Unless ur going into something like medical field or law where u need specific credentials..College is a big ass scam,” he tweeted.
Master’s degrees and one-year certificate programs have a lot in common. Many of them are one-year work-oriented programs, marketed aggressively through online advertising and offering very specific economic activities in each field.
What makes master’s degrees a little different from the one-year certificate programs offered by night schools is that the former targets students who have just finished their bachelor’s degrees and the latter targets people who have just finished high school.
“Probably the biggest scam in higher education remains one-year certificates offered by shady for-profit colleges that cost like $25,000 and do not lead to a job” said Kevin Carey, director of the education policy program at public policy think tank New America, in a Slate interview.
“Master’s degrees are probably No. 2,” Carey added. “Certainly, within the confines of colleges that are not legally for-profit, they are the biggest scam thus far.”
Nonprofit universities ranging from small schools like Oregon’s Concordia University to major ones like Yale are increasingly turning to online program managers (OPMs) to build their online offerings. An educational technology company, 2U contracts with colleges and universities to offer online degree programs. It gives its client institutions a cloud-based software-as-a-service platform, coursework design, infrastructure support and capital.
Companies such as 2U design and operate courses on behalf of the universities and the online program managers (OPMs) take as much as 70 percent of the tuition revenue. That money is largely being funded with government loans which may never be paid back, according to Carey.
“The system is broken,” tweeted the Albertus Magnus Institute, a nonprofit that says it is “dedicated to the promotion of education that is truly liberating.”
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