McDonald's Has Plans to Offer PhDs (Really)

It's kind of irresistible that McDonald's has a training facility called Hamburger University that, according to this old MarketWatch article, actually seems to offer a degree in "Hamburgerology." Ha ha ha. But according to the Financial Times McDonald's is getting slightly serious about this education stuff and now has hopes to offer a full-blown phD. The FT reports:


McDonald's hopes to offer its own PhD, throwing down the ultimate challenge to the popular wisdom that the high-street fast-food chain creates nothing but low-paid, low-quality "McJobs" to replace high-skilled work in old manufacturing industries.

David Fairhurst, the group's "chief people officer", told the Financial Times: "One day I'd love to see us doing a PhD, I definitely think we should go as far as we can."

[...The chief people officer] said McDonald's had become an attractive employer both to graduates and other workers, in large part because of its training, with its status as an awarding body adding to the prestige of its qualifications.

And really, why not? My first thought on reading this was, "McDonald's is not a prestigious university and that bit about the 'chief people officer' must be a joke." But a lot of higher education is about correlation and not causation: Earning a fancy degree doesn't necessarily cause anyone to become smart or talented, but a fancy degree is a strong signalling mechanism. (This signalling mechanism is why it might be perfectly rational to go to Harvard instead of a less expensive  school, even if the difference in "practical skills" obtained would be slight relative to the difference in cost: Harvard is the stronger signal.)

So if it is in fact true that employers are starting to take McDonald's seriously "as an awarding body" -- adding to the "prestige of its qualifications" that it sounds like it's already built up -- then perhaps it would be fine to head there for a phD.

Presented by

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. More

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism, an economics blog that was recently published in book form by Simon and Schuster. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. He is also on Twitter.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In