Updated: July 17, 2015

The Most Popular Graduate Degrees

After graduating from college, students usually delve into their first job or, given the current state of the economy, may internship, volunteer, or elect to further their undergraduate education by enrolling in graduate school. The latter option is becoming more prevalent: According to the annual Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools, the number of applications to graduate school has increased by 4.8 percent on average between the years 1999 and 2009. Furthermore, it has increased 8.3 percent between 2008 and 2009, alone.

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Naturally, some graduate programs will have more applicants than others and the same CGS study revealed business and education accounted for 51 percent of the total number of master’s degrees awarded in 2009. Other popular graduate degrees included engineering, health sciences, mathematics and computer science, which correlate with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of jobs that will experience the fastest growth between 2008 and 2018:

  1. Biomedical engineers
  2. Network systems and data communications analysts
  3. Home health aides
  4. Personal and home care aides
  5. Financial examiners
  6. Medical scientists, except epidemiologists
  7. Physician assistants
  8. Skin care specialists
  9. Biochemists and biophysicists
  10. Athletic trainers
  11. Physical therapist aides
  12. Dental hygienists
  13. Veterinary technologists and technicians
  14. Dental assistants
  15. Computer software engineers

Although the two most popular programs don’t dominate the list above, earning either a M.Ed or MBA is most certainly worth the time and effort. Research by the Graduate Management Admissions Council revealed that students who attend two-year, full-time MBA programs earn an average of 64 percent more than they did pre-MBA (those in part-time programs experienced a 55-percent bump post-graduation). And for molders of young minds, BLS data predict job openings for post-secondary teachers to jump by 257,000 through 2018 and jobs for elementary school teachers to expand by 244,000.