What Are the Most Common Master's Degree Programs?

If you would like to receive a master's degree in a popular area of study, it may interest you to know that the most commonly-earned master's degree is in the field of business. Read on to learn about this and other master's degrees that are in high demand.

Common Master's Degree Programs

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, produces periodic reports that reveal the number of master's degrees awarded by subject (www.nces.ed.gov) during a specified time frame. If you're interested in popular graduate degree options, the NCES listed the following master's-degree fields as some of the most common in 2012-2013:

  • Business
  • Education
  • Health
  • Public Administration

Important Facts About the Most Common Master's Degree Programs

Business Education Health Public Administration
Online Availability Online programs are available Online programs are available Online programs are available Online programs are available
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, official transcripts, GMAT or GRE scores and recommendations are often requested Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, official transcripts, GPA of at least 3.00 and teacher certification are usually requested Bachelor's degree, transcripts and references; nursing programs require an associate's or bachelor's from an accredited nursing program and RN licensure Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, GRE or GMAT scores, G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher and official transcripts are often required
Concentrations Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Digital Marketing, International Business Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Special Education Strategic Leadership in Healthcare Organizations, Leadership & Management in Nursing, Nursing Education Criminal Justice, Education, Health Administration, Local Government Administration
Possible Careers Business Owner, Corporate Executive, Export/Import Business, Entrepreneur, Manager Leaders or Administrators in school districts, state education agencies or other education organizations Health Care Administrator, Management Consultant, Medical Services Manager City/County Manager, Administrative Officer, Security Specialist, Investigator/Inspector


In 2012-2013, the master's degree in business was the most common graduate degree, and 188,625 of these degrees were awarded during those years, according to the NCES. With a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, you might qualify to pursue a career in marketing, project management, sales or human resources. MBA programs explore topics such as corporate finance, management strategy, product marketing and business ethics.


Of the 751,751 master's degrees awarded in 2012-2013, the NCES reported that 164,624 were in the field of education. While enrolled in an education master's-degree program, you'll usually learn about teaching pedagogy and education administration. You might specialize in subjects such as elementary education, literacy, curriculum development or instructional technology.

Health Professions

The NCES grouped together master's-degree programs that prepare graduates for careers as healthcare providers and workers. If you earn a master's degree in the field of health and clinical sciences, you'll learn about the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of different diseases. According to the NCES, 90,931 master's degrees in the clinical sciences and health professions were awarded in 2012-2013.

Public Administration

Public administration master's-degree programs may emphasize social work, public policy and political science. If you earn a public administration degree, you might work for the government to help enact new laws and policies or research existing ones. Graduates sometimes work as consultants to help government agencies address community needs. In 2012-2013, the NCES reported that 43,590 master's degrees were awarded in social services and public administration.

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