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Labour market results: masters

La inserció laboral dels titulats i titulades de màster de les universitats catalanes AQU Catalunya presents the results and findings of the 2nd survey of the employment outcomes of Master’s graduates from universities in Catalonia (2017). Surveys on graduate employment outcomes coordinated by AQU Catalunya are a consequence of the interest of the social councils of the universities in Catalonia in obtaining data and benchmarks on the quality of the labour market outcomes of graduates.

The study on Master’s degrees analyses access to the labour market as experienced by 8,747 people, accounting for 45% of all Master’s degree graduates in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years, with a sample error of 0.79%. In the 2017 survey have participated the public and private universities in Catalonia, and 12 attached centres.

The scope and continuity of the study on access to the labour market make it possible to place these results in context in longitudinal terms (comparing them with the data from 2014) and in a cross-disciplinary fashion with other education levels (comparing the data for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and PhDs).

PDF  Access to the labour market for graduates of Master’s degrees from Catalan universities

The following conclusions may be drawn from this study:

Population: Master’s graduates in Catalonia

Observing the trend in the population of Master’s degree graduates in Catalonia, we can highlight the following:

  • Master’s degrees have become firmly established within the educational offer. The number of individuals obtaining a Master’s degree has witnessed a 70% increase in 5 years and the proportion of Master’s graduates to Bachelor’s graduates has risen from a ratio of 1 to 3 in the 2011-12 academic year to 1 to 2 in the 2015-16 academic year.

Trend in the population of Master’s degree graduates based on the nature of the university
and the scope of the study

  • More than half of Master’s degree graduates follow social sciences, while the proportions of Master’s degree graduates qualifying in humanities and experimental sciences are each around 10%.
  • 56% of Master’s degree graduates are women. Women form a majority in all fields with the exception of engineering where they account for 32%.
  • Master’s degrees appeal to a substantial number of foreign students 30% of Master’s degree graduates were foreign nationals in the 2015-16 academic year.

Employment and suitability

The employment rate shows a recovery, as indeed does the suitability rate (i.e., the number of individuals in work performing university-level functions), due to the economic upturn:


  • 9 in every 10 Master’s degree graduates are in employment. The employment rate varies from 83% among those who follow fine arts and 100% among those who follow mechanical engineering and industrial design. Accordingly, the specific degree programme has a significant bearing on access to the labour market..
  • The higher the education level within the university system the better the suitability rate.

 Employment according to the university level reached in 2017


  • Long-term unemployment down compared to 2014, 1 in every 10 unemployed graduates have been looking for work for over 2 years, a similar proportion to the percentage of Bachelor’s graduates. As for the 6% of unemployed Master’s degree graduates, the primary reasons for not finding work are: seeking a fulfilling job and a suitable level of remuneration.


  • 9 in every 10 graduates perform university-level functions at work, and of the foregoing, 6 perform functions linked to the specific Master’s degree and 2 perform functions linked to the earlier degree programme. Only 9% do not perform university-level functions, while this proportion is twice as high at Bachelor’s level.

 Trend in the percentage of graduates performing functions specific to the Master’s degree broken down according to sub-field for 2017


Quality of employment

An improvement can also be seen in employment conditions compared to 2014 (for instance, full-time employment, greater proportion of permanent contracts, higher earnings, a greater level of responsibility and enhanced job satisfaction).

  • Half of Master’s degree graduates are on a permanent contract.Open-ended contracts are more common in engineering and social sciences, while only 4 in every 10 of those who followed humanities and experimental sciences have an open-ended contract.
  • Approximately 8 in every 10 Master’s degree graduates are in full-time work.
  • Rise in Master’s degree graduates’ salaries between 2014 and 2017. Approximately 5 in every 10 Master’s degree graduates in full-time employment are on gross salaries above €24,000/year, a larger proportion than at Bachelor’s level but below the proportion of doctors.
  • Job satisfaction has improved, with the exception of usefulness of knowledge. While general satisfaction with the job stands at 7.7., usefulness of the Master’s degree knowledge stands at 5.3..

Trend in the conditions of employment of Master's graduates (in percentage points)

2017_Qualitat de ocupacio_en 



  • The proportion of national graduates working abroad has fallen in relation to 2014. Nevertheless, the figure is above the proportion at Bachelor’s level.
  • Europe is the primary destination for work (74.5% of graduates who emigrate work there), followed by America (with 18.3%).
  • Those who work abroad experience enhanced employment quality. This applies to the fields of humanities, health sciences and engineering.
  • Academic mobility falls: only 1 in every 10 have taken an academic stay abroad during the Master’s degree.

Motivation and satisfaction with the study programme


  • The primary reason is progressing in their professional career Differences are identified depending on their earlier employment career: the most prominent reasons among those who had combined study and work were furthering their education and changing field. The most notable reasons among those who had not combined study and work were increasing employment opportunities and beginning a PhD.

Satisfaction with the study programme

  • Approximately 2 in every 3 would take the same Master’s programme again. The number who would take the programme again has fallen compared to 2014, particularly in the following sub-fields: economics, business and tourism; ICTs; law, labour and politics; architecture, construction and civil engineering; and, arts and design.
  • Sound theoretical skills and high suitability in work are factors that lead to better satisfaction with the Master’s degree.

Quality of education

Level of education and its usefulness in work

  • Critical thought, self-assessment and self-learning, and ethical and social responsibility are the most useful skills in work according to graduates.
  • Most of the skills specific to the Master's degree are rated by students above 5 out of 10 (pass). Student's satisfaction with the Master's programme has decreased with regard to 2014 survey (specifically in the fields of Social Sciences and Engineering), and half of the skills – for instance, problem-solving, creativity or practical skills – are rated with a score of less than 6 out of 10.
  • Languages still constitute a skill with scope for improvement in the higher education system. Overall, it is the skill that has received the lowest rating. This is true also in terms of its usefulness in work.

  Assessment of the level of education provided in the study programme (for all graduates) and its usefulness in work (only for those performing university-level functions) in 2017 (on a scale of 0 to 10)

2017_Qualitat formacio_en

Scope for improvement from the standpoint of an education shortfall

  • The greatest difference between the level of education provided and the level needed for work is still in languages.
  • The skills that show shortcomings are languages, ethical and social responsibility, and problem-solving capacity.

Education shortfall: difference between the assessment of the level of education provided in the study programme and its usefulness in work




*only for Master’s degree graduates who perform university-level functions

Results from previous editions

Data sheet

PDF PDF Survey

Survey carried out: 2017

Participating universities: UB, UAB, UPC, UPF, UdG, UdL, URV, UOC, URL, UVic-UCC, UIC and UAO CEU. 

Reference population and sample: the reference population is formed by 8.747 out of 19.307 Master’s degree graduates from years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, accounting for a percentage of 45,3% of the graduated population and giving a sample error of 0,79%.