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Need for More Advanced Degrees Requires Collaboration

If enough students with graduate degrees are going to be ready to meet the workforce needs of the future, a new report suggests, universities, businesses, nonprofits, and the government need to collaborate more closely.

A commission named by the Council of Graduate Schools and Educational Testing Service today released a report, Pathways Through Graduate School and Into Careers.

An advanced degree will be required for some 2.6 million new or replacement jobs by 2020, with a projected increase of 22 percent for jobs with a master's degree and 20 percent for positions requiring a doctorate or professional degree. But business leaders interviewed for the report say they want creative know-how, along with those college credentials.

Business expressed a need for employees with graduate degrees, but ones with a greater ability to innovate and think like entrepreneurs. Content knowledge is not enough; graduates also need to be able to problem solve, communicate, and have some business savvy, the report authors found. To bridge the gap, the report suggests employers partner with universities to provide internships, research opportunities, and finance graduate programs.

In turn, university officials should provide better career counseling, connect students with alumni, broaden curriculum to include professional skill development, work more closely with businesses, and better track the careers of their graduates, the authors suggest.

Finally, policymakers have a role to play in improving the connection between graduates with advanced degrees and the workplace. The Pathways report proposes the federal government fund studies on career pathways for graduate students and create a program with research assistantships to prepare professionals for a variety of career options.

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