Who respects fancy degrees?

Apparently, attending a top-tier law school is more useful if you want to become a professor at a top-tier school than if you want to work for a top-tier firm. Quite plausibly, academics are impressed by people who have attended institutions they themselves respect, while law firms may be more focused on a person’s actual performance than the name at the top of their diploma.

I wonder if something like that is true about academia generally: that a doctorate from Harvard is more impressive to the hiring boards of universities than to the governance boards of major non- and inter-governmental organizations, charities, think tanks, governments, etc.


The value of a doctorate

On recession and the value of graduate school

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

2 thoughts on “Who respects fancy degrees?”

  1. The idea of tiers of law schools is more of an American concept, than a Canadian one. The Canadian law schools tend to provide fairly similar education. Generally I have seen that the preference is to hire law chool graduates from the law school in the province you are located. That experience builds connections that become most useful in the practice of law.

  2. Do employers care about a university’s reputation?
    Frances Woolley

    Which university should you choose if your goal is to get a job when you graduate?

    The question is surprisingly difficult to answer. Raw job placement numbers confound the myriad factors that influence labour market success. For example, students from Mount Royal University graduate into the Alberta labour market, while students from University of Windsor head into the Ontario labour market. That makes more of a difference to the students’ job market prospects than the quality of their undergraduate instruction.

    Reliable information comparing the long-term success rates of graduates across universities is extremely hard to find. Universities lose track of their alumni, especially the unsuccessful ones. Government surveys, such as the Census, collect information about a person’s field of study, but not the name of their undergraduate university.

    A university degree is a signal, an indication of the type of person a potential employee is, and the abilities he has. The results reported here suggest that employers interpret signals differently, depending upon who sends them. If a job candidate is smart, well-qualified, and a little bit lucky, she might still get ahead. If she’s not, it’s a tough labour market out there.

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