The Ministry of Education has asked universities to reduce enrollment of academic or research master’s programs by 5-10%. To replace this they should offer the places to students who want to study for professional master’s degrees.
At the moment, China’s graduate schools award predominantly academic master’s degrees, with only 15 types of professional master’s degrees such as MBA or a clinical master’s degree.
In the West, academic master’s and professional master’s students are both required to take core graduate courses. The main difference is that research candidates need to complete a research thesis, while those on the professional track can submit a project report after internship.
In China many employers, including universities, will hire doctoral or master’s degree holders only if they have graduated with a bachelor’s degree from an elite university. Their logic is simple: one has to pass through tough and competitive national college exam to enter a top university.
With the introduction of more professional degree programs, graduate students on the professional track may find their graduate study experience more useful as they are required to undergo internship and skills training, instead of conducting research by themselves.
China Daily suggests that this in turn may also help improve the employment prospects of those graduate students who do not have a degree from an elite university. This change in focus and emphasis on professional degrees is not unique to China. It is something of a worldwide phenomenon.