The Master’s That Top the Chart

The Hottest Programmes in the USA

June 23rd, 2014

The popularity of the Master’s degree is unwavering. However, some Master’s concentrations turn out to be more popular than others. The educational realm, much like the business world in general, is subject to trends in the sense that there is a visible preference toward specific types of programmes. So what are the most desired majors right now?

Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. The cliché may be trite but truthful nonetheless. Quite often men and women have different tastes, even when it comes to educational preferences, and what is popular for the ‘stronger’ sex may not be that interesting for the female MA candidate. Though, of course, there are some points of convergence – the MBA, for example, is still very much ‘in’ for both men and women. The Master’s programme, however, is a different story. Here is a list of the most popular Master’s degrees by gender. We need to start off by pointing out the fact that exceptions always exist. It has long been established that men and women are equally capable of taking on any type of education programme or speciality. The truth of the matter is that historically there have been some educational and professional fields for which men have had a more definite preference. The stats and facts here all indicate the various preferences men and women have, based on statistical data.

MAs that men pursue the most
Business Administration remains the preferred major for most male candidates. Men in the US constitute about 64% of the collective applicant pool for 2013-2014 according to the GMAC survey. The degree is popular not only because the expected salary is high, but also because it allows candidates to climb up the hierarchy and reach the position of a CEO, for example. The Master’s of Finance maintains popular, though 2013 proved to be the first time in five years that a majority of American programmes (53%) reported declining volumes. Electrical, Electronics & Communication Engineering is also a much desired degree by men. Not only because they’re believed to be technically minded and geared towards new technologies, but also because this innovative degree is one of the best paid on the market. The median pay for an MA in Engineering in the US is estimated at 121,000 USD; the possible job openings range from senior systems engineer (124,000 USD) to software developer (112,000 USD) and senior electrical engineer (108,000 USD). The Master’s in Mechanical Engineering is also in the top five degrees for men. This major guarantees graduates a median salary of 105,000 USD.

According to an article in Forbes magazine, engineering concentrations comprise one third of the most valuable majors. Software engineering majors earn a median of 87,800 USD after 10 years on the job; environmental engineering majors earn a median of 88,600 USD; civil engineering majors earn a median of 90,200 USD; and petroleum engineering majors earn a median of 155,000 USD —the highest paycheck on the list.

Other preferred majors among male candidates are: Business & Commerce, Computer & Information Sciences, Public Administration and Education Leadership & Administration.

MAs that women pursue the most
Business Administration is a first choice for the majority of women as well (about 36% according to the 2013 GMAC survey). Women know that if they want to continue breaking glass ceilings and challenging the stereotypes, they’ll need that diploma to vouch for them. The reality is that the business degree is the most diverse one, giving a lot of flexibility when later on it comes to job hunting. The Master’s in Management is also a highly preferred choice. The trend for women for that major is an increase in the volume of applications. More than half (53%) of Master’s in Management programmes reported increased applications from women, compared with 43% that received increased applications from men. Executive, flexible, and part-time MBA programmes also showed a similar trend—a greater percentage of these programmes reported volume growth in female applicants that outpaced the volume growth in male applicants. Otherwise, the other field they excel in is Education – though median salaries are relatively low in the US (60,000 USD), teachers are in demand and jobs are easily available. Social Work, Curriculum and Instruction, Accounting and Finance, Marketing and Media Studies are among their other preferred options.

Highly Prospective MAs
It may sound improbable but a Master’s in Physics is about to become one of the highly valued degrees on the job market. Indeed, according to Forbes magazine, physics is a growing field with job opportunities expected to rise in the coming years. According to Katie Bardaro, a leading economist, as quoted in Forbes’ article, “Thecommunications and technical tools utilised in a physics programme are highly useful in the growing world ofdata science”.

The average salary for degree holders in the USA is 115,000 USD. Healthcare continues to be a sector with plenty of room for ‘newcomers’. Jobs are available as doctors will always be needed, and the pay is good – in the United States the pay-off is a median annual salary of 180,000 USD and there is also the personal gratification of saving other people’s lives. Nurse anaesthetists are also much in demand because it turns out there’s a worldwide shortage of qualified anaesthetists. In addition, the job pays an average of 120,000 USD annually. Pharmacists and microbiologists also make the cut with median salaries of 116,670 USD and 66,260 USD respectively.

The Advertising & Marketing major is still going strong, as in today’s media-ridden world PR experts and marketing consultants are much needed. Also the degree has a relatively high return on investment (ROI). The average cost for four years of education is 52,000 USD while the median pay is estimated at about 107,950
USD.

All that said, the end goal of all Master’s students is to use their degree to kick start their career and get a good entry job, thus enabling them to gradually grow and climb up the career ladder in the following years. Forbes magazine rates the best Master’s degrees for jobs and gives an estimate of the projected employment increase for common jobs associated with particular degrees and the mid-career median salary for a professional in that specific field.

 

The Best Master’s Degrees for Jobs

Mid-career median pay

Projected employment increase in the sector

Information Systems

101,000 USD

30%

Physics

117,000 USD

22%

Physician Assistant Studies

98,800 USD

30%

Computer Science

114,000 USD

21.3%

Electrical Engineering

124,000 USD

18%

Occupational Therapy

81,100 USD

33%

Public Health

84,100 USD

30.5%

Nursing

88,600 USD

26%

Finance

119,000 USD

18.6%

Civil Engineering

102,000 USD

19%

Source: Forbes Magazine

The IT world has been playing an enormous role in all aspects of our life for the past few decades and it is still constantly growing. That is why even though many people don’t particularly see themselves developing professionally in the computer science direction, programming is quickly becoming a “must have” skill for any contemporary cutting-edge professional. All this said, the bottom line is that people’s choices for education change in unison with the market. In particular, the biggest driving force when it comes to selecting what type of Master’s degree to pursue is the return on the investment that the candidate is going to make.



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