NEW YORK — A university’s no-frill journalism degree will not guarantee you a law job.
But it could help you land a position in a high-paying field, experts say.
A new study published in the Journal of Applied Labor Economics found that while a graduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where the graduates of its law school have done their best work, will likely help you in the legal profession, a bachelor’s degree in journalism from a public university will not.
The study examined the careers of over 2,000 graduates of Pennsylvania law schools from 2007 to 2012.
After controlling for factors like salary, the study found that the graduates’ degrees did not have a significant impact on their employment prospects in legal work.
“Our data suggest that the law school graduates who earned a bachelor of law degree are not going to have a strong resume,” said David Gershenfeld, a professor of economics at the University at Buffalo and the study’s lead author.
Instead, the graduates who went to Penn had a stronger resume than the graduates at other public law schools, and they also had a higher number of law school posts than the students at other law schools.
As a result, a degree from a private school is better for the employer, said Gersham.
It also may be easier for the student to land a job, said Andrew Weil, a former senior adviser at the National Association of Public Accountants.
Students who go to a public law school with a strong reputation for research and innovation will likely get jobs with public law firms, he said.
In the same vein, he added, graduates from public law colleges who can write papers are likely to get better pay.
And the graduates may be better prepared for a job as a lawyer, Weil said.
They may have more experience in the field.
So why does a degree matter?
The report found that graduates of law schools with high numbers of law students tended to be the most productive lawyers.
At Penn, for example, the law graduates who have the highest number of students enrolled in law schools made up about 17 percent of the law firm’s students.
That figure increased to about 24 percent for the students who had the lowest number of enrolled students, but declined to about 11 percent for those with the most students.
The same is true for students at the Wharton School of Business, the University and the University College London, where nearly half of the graduates had enrolled students.
But the number of graduates in law school who had law students enrolled also was higher than in other schools.
In fact, a recent report from the Center for the Study of Law and Technology at Georgetown University found that in 2014, only about 9 percent of law graduates had students enrolled at law schools in the U.S. The number of those law graduates at the top 10 law schools increased by more than 25 percent.
Even with the relatively low number of enrollees in public law universities, the public schools that have the best reputation for attracting graduates are likely the ones that offer the best jobs, said David Berenson, a law professor at Northwestern University and one of the study authors.
While the law schools’ reputation for being the best places to study law is important, it is not the sole factor in how many graduates graduate, he pointed out.
“The most important thing is the quality of the curriculum, which is also very important,” Berenston said.
For some students, a liberal arts degree could help them land a legal job, he noted.
But even if it is a non-academic degree, it will still help a graduate to land good jobs.
“You are going to see more law graduates in the job market,” Biernson said.
“But you are also going to get more graduates in a more competitive job market.”