When my boss left, I interviewed for the position and I got it. However, because I didn't have a degree I was offered a lower position for less pay. I was told that once I got my degree my position and pay would increase. A couple of months ago, I had a conversation with the HR lady and asked how things would be after I got my degree. She basically told me things didn't work like that. I recall the GM mentioned on another occasion that he would provide a raise to anyone that advanced their education or career. I graduated in June and it so happens that everyone also got a merit increase in June. I got clarification from HR that my merit increase was not based on receiving my degree. It was based on my last years appraisal. So my questions is with having just received a merit increase, should I still discuss the possibility of an increase because of my degree?

  • 6
    Did your job offer include any of this (regarding a raise on a successful degree completion) in writing?
    – enderland
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 20:08
  • 3
    Ask the one who told you that your pay would increase. Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 7:46
  • If your question has been answered, can you please mark the answer that best fits it? Thanks!
    – Codeman
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 17:34

6 Answers 6


If you got the salary increase offer in writing, then you're good.

If you did not, there is nothing stopping you from asking for a raise. Make sure to frame it as "my new education enables me to be a better worker, therefore I deserve a raise" rather than "my old boss said if I did this he'd give me a raise" and you will be more successful.

  • 5
    Another point to frame it is "as someone with my skills and education, I could get $X on the job market. You're only paying $X-Y like I didn't have the degree."
    – Telastyn
    Commented Jul 27, 2013 at 14:47
  • The only problem with that strategy is that it makes you look a bit flighty - someone who is willing to jump ship for a few extra bucks. This is powerful for you, but may take away some of your future bargaining power. In other words - this trick only works once or twice!
    – Codeman
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 17:35

One of the things I keep seeing is the perception of 'Degree as License'. In short, the degree is viewed as some kind of entitlement to more pay or other more favorable terms of employment.

Often managers don't quite know what the HR policies are, they may be making assumptions as to what they can offer or what the company does.

However... your employment opportunities have certainly expanded. In the US, for example, one can't fill many programmer roles in government agencies without the degree. Largish established companies (banks, insurance companies, etc.) are sensitive to credentials. Therefore their reason for giving you the raise is not that you 'earned a degree' per se, but that you have broadened opportunities. The best thing to do is start searching for them, to find out how many more you have. From there, you can get an idea of what kind of raise is reasonable to expect. If the demand in your area is weak, there may not be much point in asking.


I worked for a company during my degree and received a substantial increase following graduation. My role and job title didn't change, but I went from part time to full time employee. I think the change in status allowed the salary negotiation to happen, and the qualification set the new ballpark.

The merit increase in June was a standard practise of the company, this however is not and shouldn't be affected by it.

You mention that you were offered a lower position because you didn't have a degree, so use this to open the negotiation. "Now I have graduated I would like to discuss the position I originally applied to" Which should lead to salary talks.

The only thing is that you've left it a long time. When I did this, I had the agreement sorted out a couple of months before graduation. There is a danger that it's been and gone in the eyes of management. You will have to use your knowledge of the company and people to make it seem like your degree is a recent change for you, and allows a change of status in your work.


You should always discuss a change in your work status, the question is, with whom? It sounds like you have only talked to HR. Are they the people who make the decisions? In most companies, they just implement decisions others have made.
You need to find out who would make that decision to change your job title and job pay, and talk to that person. That person may not know about your career aspirations, and accomplishments. I'm concerned that you have not discussed this in your question- that person should be who you talk to (usually the person you report to) not HR. Is it the GM?


It depends on your organization. If you are in a big company, they are sensitive to education credentials because they have few effective ways of measuring productivity of individuals. The degree becomes a signal for higher productivity. In a small organization, it is much easier to measure productivity. Low producers have nowhere to hide.

So...if you are in a big organization, you have probably been pigeonholed as "the guy with no degree", even if you now have a degree. To advance your salary you need a competing job offer from another large company which hasn't pigeonholed you. Then give your company a chance to make a counteroffer based on your degree and experience. Pick one.

If you are in a small organization, you are not getting a raise for the degree, unless you are awesome and losing you would cost them a lot of money, which not likely because you are so new. In that case, you will have to go elsewhere to get a better paying job.


You ask for an increase at your next job. The company used this as an excuse to pay you less. About 10 years ago I was offered a job. Then a VP reviewed it and decided to offer me $10k less because I did not have a computer science degree (it was in an unrelated discipline). I needed a job, so I took it. Quit 1 year later and got more than a 10k raise.

Asking for raises works on TV, you're generally not that important. Just go somewhere else.

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