Business Degrees Not In Demand Anymore


The mainstream media is apparently telling us that business degrees are no longer in demand. We are told a law degree can command a salary as high as $8,500 while arts and science courses are getting popular now.

On the front page of yesterday’s Business Times printed edition:

Trainee lawyer bags $8,500 monthly pay
Foreign law firm pays record starting salary to NUS grad
LAW firms may be trimming costs and easing up on new hires, but a freshly minted young lawyer has just snared a record starting salary. She starts her working life on a pay of $8,500 a month.” (article is now available online)

Also on front page of today’s Sunday Times printed edition:

Business degrees lose their attraction
Varsity applicants opt for science & arts as they scan the job scene down the road
The eye-popping six-figure salaries that banks were throwing at freshly minted graduates in recent years made business faculties the first choice for many university applicants… But the recession has provided a reality check this year… There is a shift away from business to courses such as arts and social sciences, which offer surer job prospects in teaching and the civil service.”

Before students flock to these other arts and science degree courses, maybe they should take a loot at our Dumping Ground rankings, which we derived from – guess-what – the graduate employment surveys from NUS, NTU and SMU.


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  1. the 8.5k is clearly a one-off in this kind of market. the top 4 local law firms are only offering 4k now. even less at smaller law firms. and with the influx from the graduating batch of smu law students, expect salaries to be even more depressed.

    the demand just isn’t there now… not only for business grads.

  2. That law firm that gave $8.5 K is kinda illogical.

    Firstly, if it is true that top law firms are giving 4K…then its really ridiculous that a firm will pay more than twice …

    Unless this girl is really special and twice as efficient as those hired by the top 4 law firms.

    Sorry speaking from a return on investment view point

  3. The 4k is only for those that are retained. There is a significant increase in law grads not retained after their pupillage this year.

  4. good man, you goon. he’s an oms scholar who went to cambridge, became an elite ‘AO’ civil servant upon graduation, and went on smooth sailingly to be natsteel ceo before joining politics. the teacher guy is another senior-level minister, you goon.

  5. Despite of what the mainstream media is saying, it is still worthwhile to take business degrees. The current downturn is affecting all sectors including the financial sectors. By the time you completed your business degree, the economy would have recovered by then. Singapore is a financial hub in this region and I don’t see why business degrees are a lousy bet.

  6. still in banking too. unfortunately for some (i estimate abt 10%), they have been retrenched. so if u have the stomach for this risk of being laid off (rather low in my opinion), banking is still a very attractive sector. it pays much better compared to other sectors for such a ‘risk’ u take on. but it’s hard to get in at this pt in time as banks are simply not hiring or are hiring very selectively. i pity the freshies cos once u start off in another sector, it’s harder later to switch- u’d then be competing with other pple like u as well as other freshies then. i know, cos i managed to switch years ago, just barely.

  7. no longer in banking on

    banking sucks…i got out recently and i am now earning more and enjoying my work more in another industry

  8. I agree that it is not wise to conclude business degree is not good from what is said in Sunday Times.

    Eventually, things learned in Arts courses like some European Studies(or whatever regions studies), Political Science are less useful both in job and in life compared to Business Studies.

    If I am entering uni now, I would definitely prefer Business to arts and social sciences.

    First is that both can become a teacher or work in government stat board as these 2 career options don’t need a specialized degree, just any good honors degree.

    Second is that you will more useful things in Business Studies.

    Third is that if you can make it into the lucrative banking and finance sector as a fresh graduate and work there for some years before being retrenched. I don’t see why MOE won’t employed you as a teacher. Bear in mind that MOE also got recruit mid-career entry.

    I already sort of known the smell of our government and the type of news being reported in local media.

    After a few years of encouraging own citizens in business/entrepreneurship (after life science trend), together with phenomenon created by Rich Dad Poor Dad, you can see that top A level students flocking to business studies in NUS/NTU/SMU, then no one wants to study engineering and it become a dumping ground.(No matter what the trend is, Medicine and Lawyer courses still got high demand).

    Now the government wants to simulate demand for other courses, that’s why you see Mediacorp got a drama encouraging engineering.(P.S. Mediacorp seems to be acting as a agent for spreading government messages, with the IR nearly completed, I foresee that there will be more dramas encouraging us not to gamble, by now, already got more than 2 dramas before with anti-gambling messages already)

    Before deciding on your courses, take into considerations your interest or at least what you confirm dislikes, rather than flocking to this or that based on the trends that the government created/mainstream media.

    Remember the life science trend lesson.

  9. having gs on ur resume is definitely a gd thing. r u in mgmt consulting now? care to share why u left gs and how u got into another industry? thanks in advance for sharing.

  10. no longer in banking on

    left GS because i got a better offer elsewhere….though i can definitely make alot more in future if i stay in GS…i think the life out of GS is definitely more enjoyable…good money doesnt always guarantee you a better life…i rather make a little lesser to have a more balanced and enjoyable lifestyle

  11. no longer in banking on

    people always say that they dont mind working long hours if they are paid well (esp in banking)…but when they are in it for a few years…they will dread it and look for their way out…its common especially in the IB environment

  12. no longer in banking on

    when i was still in GS..i was earning more than most others in other industries and i was driving a Audi TT…but so what? i dont even get the chance to flaunt my car or $ as i will usually either be working in office or recuperating (after a long busy week or day) at home

  13. some work long hours but some don’t. i bet there are those around you in gs that don’t work long hours and yet get fat paychecks and enjoy life. the lucky ones. i’m one of them, but not in a ib setting. not getting ib comp but high enough to be in the Audi TT league. 🙂
    so care to reveal – no need specifics – where u r working now? what pays as well as ib? mgmt consulting or administrative service? oil & gas?

  14. no longer in banking on

    banking2, of course there are people who work shorter hours and yet earn a fat paycheck but what i am saying is the general people in GS. Obviously i know you are trying very hard to tell all of us that you work short hours and yet you are getting a fat pay check. Dont worry, i am sure everyone here got your hint. Well i have no idea what is your definition of “fat” paycheck as it differs from one person to another. To my ex-boss, 2-5mil/year is considered a fat pay check but to me, 500k/year and above is “fat” enough. There will always be someone who is earning more than you and there will always be someone who is earning less so i guess this is very subjective and i believe that we should not be too full of ourselves even though we might be doing well. It is not important to reveal my current industry. Like what i have said previously, i might be getting less $ now but i fully enjoy it.

  15. its all relative, dun get too upset over it. as long as your lifestyle is manageable and comfortable be contented.

    I do noe of folks in SG who earn less than 500 per mth and the folks who can afford to bum around and yet gets millions a year.


  16. No longer in banking, would you know how much does someone from product origination side (not investment banking) typically earn in an international bank after 4 to 5 years? Would they earn more than investment banking people? What’s the career progression for such guys?

  17. Just wondering why so many ‘A’ level / Poly students want to take Local University courses at FASS & Business?
    It seems to be a trend for especially straight A scorers! Have Singaporeans gone soft & want only easy options? Shouldn’t straingt ‘A’s scorers be taking challenging courses like medicine, law, sciences & even engineering? Instead of all flocking to Business & the Arts courses…
    It is pretty hard to fathom why so many people these days just want to take the softer options…Is there really a great future ahead for FASS & Business graduates? are there really so many CEO & CFO positions awaiting these grads?

  18. To shu shu: I think there’s a song for it called it’s a materialistic world. There is also this thing called supply and demand. Eventually supply is going to be so plentiful such that compensation in the other industry will be comparatively more attractive and people will go there again.

  19. Biomedical Hub should be getting hype soon as the govt is pumping in millions of dollars to build another building in Biopolis. Also, recently a spokesman for USA has indicated US interest in the Biomedical industry in S’pore.

  20. errr… biomed is so last decade. even the dynamic philip yeo has stepped down and moved on to do non-biomed things like helping the SMEs.

  21. Life science in fact is a growing necessity of the future to help the human race to improve quality of living. It is popular and has great demand in advanced countries like USA, Japan and Australia. Perhaps the government should try to make a concerted attempt to uplift this industry again. Biomedical industry is in reality a very important industry to concentrate on if Singapore is to catch up with the developed worlds.

  22. Shouldn’t the govt & universities do their annual survey on job market demands before deciding on opening the number of university places for the respective course. This way, the unis will not be overproducing too many grads in those fields which are not so in demand, so as not to generate a glut in those industries. Otherwise this could cause disllusionment for jobless grads.

  23. It’s not realistic. There’s a 3-4 year lag time from enrollment to graduation. By then what’s hot may have cooled off.

    The university is suppose to teach you only one thing, the capability to process knowledge for analysis and life-time learning.

    Most of the jobs available in the next 20 years would not have been conceived at this point in time.

  24. then they should not have so many departments / faculties in uni. simply teach “capability to process knowledge for analysis and life-time learning” and their job is done. 🙂

  25. In my opinion, universities are only good in teaching science disciplines and by that I mean real science like Physics, etc not social “science”, econ or business.

    I somehow agree with Kevin’s opinion, but there’s a better teacher that will teach those kinds of skills it’s called Slumdog Millionaire or life. If you are too daft to reflect on your life experiences, nothing will save you.

    The fact is university degrees are really necessary nowadays to put you in equal standing with everybody else. Since everybody else has one, you need one too so that you don’t stand out awkwardly. Outstanding people will be successful whether they attend a university or not and there are just too many examples of that.

  26. >Shouldn’t the govt & universities do their annual survey on job market demands

    they will say it is hard to predict the job market. but when it is time to justify their huge salaries, they will say they have done a good job. one of them even hint that he can control the price of oil! isn’t it amazing?

  27. Chill: Didn’t you realize at the end of higher learning, everyone ends up with the same degree, Doctor of Philosophy, PhD?

    But there’s more than one way to skin a cat, so you have different faculties and disciplines.

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