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Higher education enrollments continue to grow year by year. Asmore jobs require the technical training that comes with a collegedegree, more people are returning to school. And more of thesepeople are working adults: The population of students older than 25is expected to grow at a faster rate through 2017 than thepopulation of “traditional” college students aged 18 to 24. Many ofthese adult learners are professionals looking to earn a master’sdegree.

Master’s degree programs in any field of study offer specializedprofessional training, and usually can be completed in two to threeyears. In addition to gaining workplace-relevant knowledge,master’s degree students develop potentially useful secondarycompetencies, such as advanced research, writing and presentationskills.

Wondering which subjects most master’s degree students aretackling? In 2006 to 2007, the last year for which statistics areavailable, institutions of higher learning in the United Statesawarded nearly 605,000 master’s degrees. The vast majority of thoseawards were concentrated in five subject areas. Here are the mostpopular fields of study among master’s degree recipients:

1. Education (176,572 degrees awarded)

2. Business (150,211)

3. Health sciences (54,531)

4. Public administration and social services (31,131)

5. Engineering (29,472)

Master degrees in education

Education is the single most popular field of study for master’sdegree students. There are three different types of educationdegrees at the master level: master of education (M.Ed.), master of arts in education (MA)and the master of arts in teaching (MAT).

Experienced and licensed education professionals will usuallychoose a master of education or master of arts degree program.M.Ed. degree programs generally offer specialized concentrations,such as curriculum and assessment or leadership and administration.It’s possible to pursue your M.Ed degree entirely online nowadays,although you will need to maintain your licensing separately.

Those who aim to move into teaching from another profession, ordrastically change their focus as an educator (for example, a highschool music teacher moving to kindergarten), usually opt for amaster of arts in teaching degree program (MAT). This involvesstudent teaching, or even full-time teaching as part of an”emergency credentialing” program, along with classroom work. Whilesome portions of an MAT can be completed online, this degreeusually requires students to attend a local university formentoring, and to be observed while teaching.

Master’s degrees in business

After education, the second most popular field of study formaster’s degree recipients is business. Graduate education inbusiness can take the form of a master of science in managementdegree, or the more familiar master of business administration degree (MBA).

Master’s programs in both of these areas are sometimes designedto accept students with or without prior education in business,owing to the fact that business management and organizationalskills are applicable across a broad range of organizations.However, depending upon which concentration you choose, you may berequired to take prerequisite courses, particularly if your degreeprogram has a concentration such as accounting or finance.

For professionals who need or want to earn while they learn, MBAand master of science in management degrees are among the mostpopular online degree programs. Many schools also offer an”ExecutiveMBA“, which offers accelerated learning to experienced businessprofessionals.

Health sciences

In a distant third place, health sciences degrees, includingnursing, physical therapy and other related disciplines, requireclinical practice and physical classroom attendance, in addition tolicensing independent of completing your degree.

While it’s possible to “trade up” from an associate degree innursing to a bachelor of science in nursing online, a master’sdegree course usually requires some time at a bricks-and-mortarschool.

Public administration and social services

This field of study heading through the Department of Educationactually covers two different subjects. Public administrationdegrees are for those who plan to pursue upper-level careers ingovernment work. A master of public administration (MPA) teachesthe finer points of creating and implementing policy within thecontext of a non-profit organization, or a local, state or federalgovernment office.

“Social services” refers to social work. A master of social work(MSW) degree is necessary for those who want to pursue careers associal workers.


Upper-level careers in engineering require at least a master’sdegree. The most elite engineering professionals will move on to aPh.D. program in order to pursue specialized research in theirfields.

While chemical engineering, mechanical engineering and otherforms of engineering require students to spend time in a labenvironment, some computer engineering and systems engineeringdegrees can be pursued online.

Information in this article was provided by Colorado TechnicalUniversity. Contact CTU today if you’re interested in developingmarketable knowledge and career-relevant skills with anindustry-current degree program. (CTU does not guarantee employmentor salary.)

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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