Bankrate.com, a website by and for the financial services industry, recently published an article titled 5 graduate degrees that don’t pay off . Among those listed were computer engineering (#2), PR, advertising and mass-media programs (#3), a law degree from a fourth-tier school (#4), and atmospheric sciences and meteorology (#5).
The list makes a partial degree of sense to me but I don’t understand what relationship most of the entries have to financial services, and I’d go a step further by suggesting that any degree in any subject from a fourth-tier school is probably a waste of time and money unless your sole objective is adding initials and abbreviations to your business card to make it more awe-inspiring. I also note a question of morality in a great deal of PR, advertising and mass-media programs which, ironically, benefit Wall Street greatly.
Whether or not the other three are applicable to financial services is beyond my ken but at least they can generate a decent income, self satisfaction and, in the case of atmospheric sciences and meteorology, serve the greater good (see my Global Warming and Incoming Bad Stuff.)
What really caught my eye was Master of Fine Arts at #1 on the list.
There is more going on here than a list of disciplines that generally don’t make money for the financial services industry. 5 graduate degrees that don’t pay off says a great deal about how we see ourselves and value (or don’t value) ourselves and our society overall. It is an indictment that brings to mind an observation by Herbert Marcuse in One Dimensional Man (1964) to the effect that when surrounded by an irrational environment the only rational response is to behave irrationally.