The Most Valued Master’s Degrees
An important debate is raging in the U.S. about the value of a graduate degree. Americans currently owe $1.48 trillion in student loan debt. Approximately 40% of that total comes from financing graduate and professional degrees.
As college costs rise and loan debt increases, you may wonder if a master’s degree is worth the time and money. In general, the answer is yes. As of 2013, individuals with a master’s degree earned $12,000 more per year than their less-educated counterparts.
But not all graduate degree programs are created equal. Some fields of study are much more lucrative than others, and not every master’s degree leads to a higher salary.
Which are the most valued master’s degrees? What fields of study have the greatest earning potential? Read on to find out!
Four of the Most Valued Master’s Degrees
Let’s look at four fields of study that have real economic possibilities and advantages. A master’s degree from any of these programs is worth the effort.
What’s more, many programs can be completed online. That option removes many common barriers to attending graduate school.
MBA (Master’s in Business Administration)
The MBA is a popular master’s degree program, as well as one of the most flexible and lucrative. Degree holders work in business, finance, and accounting. They can expect increased salaries over time and continued employment opportunities.
Specific occupations see greater financial benefits from a master’s degree. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents gain the most from an MBA. Their salaries are about 90% higher than workers with only a bachelor’s degree.
Accountants and auditors also see significant financial gains. As do general and operations managers and human resources employees.
Becoming a doctor is a grueling process requiring graduate school and a lengthy residency program. Luckily, a doctor is not the only rewarding profession within medicine.
Physician’s assistants need three years of healthcare experience and a master’s degree. This process is much shorter than what a doctor goes through, yet physician assistants can earn six-figure salaries.
Another option is a master’s degree in nurse anesthesia. Nurse anesthetists aid doctors, dentists, and obstetricians in all procedures requiring anesthesia.
You need a year of clinical experience before applying to a nurse anesthesia master’s program.
There appears to be a real shortage of nurses who want to work in this field. Salaries have exploded to around $120,000 per year.
Engineers specialize in different fields and earn their master’s degrees in particular areas of study. Most of these fields are very lucrative and worth getting a degree in (especially if you attend a respected program).
It’s impossible to list all engineering specialties here. Some of the high-paying ones are electrical, chemical, and biomedical engineering.
Electrical engineering appears to offer the most bang for your buck. The median salary for this job is approximately $121,000. Electrical engineers need solid backgrounds in mathematics, the physical sciences, and engineering techniques.
The field of computer science has been expanding rapidly. This growth seems likely to continue. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science will grow faster than other industries over the next ten years.
Within the field itself are specific areas of focus. Some of these are expected to grow faster than others.
Even so, a master’s degree in computer science with any specialization will provide a dependable future and high salary. In fact, a master’s degree recipient can expect a mid-career salary of about $111,000.
Computer science graduate students choose their own area of specialization. But popular concentrations include networks, security, and analytics.
Depending on their specific course of study, degree holders opt for careers such as:
- database administrator
- software architect
- information technology (IT) consultant
Employers place a high value on computer science degrees, which should make job hunting less painful.
Wrapping Up Most Valued Master’s Degrees
These, then, are the master’s degrees that are worth it. If you decide to attend graduate school, one of the above degrees might be a good fit. As the most valued master’s degrees, they inspire confidence in good job prospects and a hefty salary.
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