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Career orientations of business master's students as compared to social work students: Further inquiry into the value of graduate education

F. Robert Buchanan (Department of Management, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, Texas, USA)
Kong‐Hee Kim (Department of Management, St Cloud State University, St Cloud, Minnesota, USA)
Randall Basham (School of Social Work, The University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 15 May 2007




The purpose of this study is to explore career orientations of business master's degree seekers in comparison with social work degree pursuers in an effort to provide insight for educators and policy makers.


A web‐based survey of current master's students from two graduate schools at a large university provided 388 respondents who were employed full‐time while pursuing their degrees. Hypotheses were tested with hierarchical regression and MANOVA analysis.


Business degree pursuers are more strongly influenced by the motive to achieve professional advancement than the motive to acquire knowledge. The findings indicate that careerism and educational motives for business master's students are related to recognition of job alternatives that are an improvement over the current job being held. Social workers' organizational mobility perceptions were influenced by careerism and a desire to gain knowledge, and less influenced by professional advancement motives. Interestingly, the results show that social work graduate students were more careerist than business degree pursuers.

Research limitations/implications

Although this research focuses on the career orientations of business master's students in a comparison to social workers, a broader sample employing samples in other study fields would further expand the knowledge regarding the career orientations of graduate students.

Practical implications

Previous research has mostly dealt with cost/benefit analyses of the value of master's level education. The findings in this research would help policy makers and graduate program educators in a better understanding of students, to assist in marketing, placement, and curriculum design.


The value of master's level education is under‐researched. Much of the existing information is anecdotal. This study deals with specific elements of educational motivation, career orientation, and human capital.



Buchanan, F.R., Kim, K. and Basham, R. (2007), "Career orientations of business master's students as compared to social work students: Further inquiry into the value of graduate education", Career Development International, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 282-303.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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