Vivekanand Vellanki

This question is kind of hard to answer because there are many times of jobs; and different jobs value different skills. Some jobs value ownership, some jobs value the ability to perform mundane tasks day in/day out.

Having worked in product companies, I can talk about this in the context of product companies.

In addition to technical abilities, a product company values soft skills like ownership, ability to work through ambiguity, ability to work with geographically distributed teams, etc.

A fresher cannot demonstrate any of the soft skills. Hence, most product companies make hire/no-hire decisions based on a degree.

Having said that, I know of a number of folks who do not have advanced degrees (like a Masters/PhD) and who have done exceedingly well at companies due to their superior technical and soft skills.

In my opinion, experience is valuable if the experience can demonstrate superior technical and soft skills.