What Is the Best Master's Degree for the Future?

Making the decision about the best master's degree for the future is usually influenced by looking at the job relevance, salary, and growth in occupations that require the minimum of a master's degree for an entry-level position.

What is a Master's Degree?

Master's degrees are graduate-level (post-baccalaureate) degrees that specialize in an area of study. Because they are focused on specific subject areas, they can be completed in as little as 1 year in an accelerated program or as long as 2 to 3 years in a more traditionally designed program. The length of time to complete the degree depends upon such factors as part-time or full-time status and accepted transfer credits.

There are Different Types of Master's Degrees

The type of master's degree a student receives is determined by the area of study and the graduate school the student is attending. For example, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is not the same as a Master of Arts (MA) degree in (specialization). The following is a list of various master's degrees:

  • MS - Master of Science in (specialization)
  • MPS - Master of Professional Studies in (specialization)
  • MPA - Master of Public Administration
  • MPH - Master of Public Health
  • MSW - Master of Social Work
  • MFA - Master of Fine Arts
  • MEd - Master of Education
  • MEng - Master of Engineering
  • MArch - Master of Architecture

Fields Requiring Master's Degrees and Their Job Details, Salary, and Growth

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and information research scientists work with current technology and develop new computing technologies. They are problem solvers who work on multifaceted issues, and they work in many fields, such as medicine and business. Some possible specializations for computer and information research scientists are programming, robotics, or data science. A Master of Arts or Master of Science degree in Computer and Information Science, Computer Programming, or a related area is the usual minimum requirement for an entry-level position in this field.

Genetic Counselors

Healthcare providers depend on genetic counselors for support and data when families or individuals are worried about the possibility of inherited conditions. Genetic counselors generate risk assessments for genetic disorders and birth defects, also. Most entry-level positions require a Master of Science degree in Genetics, Human Genetics, or Genetics Counseling.

Mathematicians and Statisticians

Mathematicians and statisticians work in many fields, including healthcare, business, and engineering. They use statistical and mathematical methods to analyze data and solve problems, which is why mathematicians and statisticians need good analytical, communication, math and problem-solving skills. In addition to Master of Science or Master of Arts degrees in Mathematics and/or Statistics, some individuals may pursue Master of Science in Analytics (MSA) or other closely-related degrees to qualify for entry-level positions.

Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners

Also known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), these professionals may provide both specialist and primary care. Each state has different requirements these individuals must meet in order to practice, but most require a valid RN degree from an accredited school, a current state license to practice, and passing scores on one or more certification tests. For an entry-level position, the minimum requirement is usually a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.

Occupational Therapists

Individuals who are disabled or who have been injured may be treated by occupational therapists in order to regain or restore their daily-living skills. In order to do this, occupational therapists work with individuals to practice everyday activities, and they utilize their adaptability, communication skills, patience, compassion, and interpersonal skills. To become a licensed occupational therapist, individuals must pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam, and entry-level positions usually require a Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy or a Master of Occupational Therapy degree (MOT).

Physician Assistants

Commonly known as PAs, physician assistants are important members of medical teams. They work with surgeons, doctors, and other healthcare professionals to assess, diagnose, and treat patients using good communication, compassion, emotional stability, detail orientation, and problem-solving skills. To be licensed in the U.S., they must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), and to enter a position as a Physician Assistant, individuals will usually need to have earned a Master of Science in Physician Assistant, Master of Medical Science - Physician Assistant, Master of Public Health, or another closely related graduate-level degree.

*Occupation*Median Salary (2018)*Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)
Computer and Information Research Scientists$118,37019% (much faster than average)
Genetic Counselors$80,37029% (much faster than average)
Mathematicians and Statisticians$88,19033% (much faster than average)
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners$113,93031% (much faster than average)
Occupational therapists$84,27024% (much faster than average)
Physician assistants$108,61037% (much faster than average)

*Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Requirements for Graduate School Admission

While every graduate school sets its requirements for admission, there are a few elements that are common to most schools.

  • Complete an application. This can often be completed online.
  • Provide official transcripts from every undergraduate school attended. This establishes the cumulative grade point average (CGPA) and award of bachelor's degree.
  • Submit an essay communicating the reasons for applying for the degree.
  • Submit Graduate Records Examinations (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) scores. GRE and/or GMAT requirements may be waived depending upon the undergraduate CGPA, professional experience, or other thresholds established by the school.
  • Submit test scores from an English language proficiency test. This is usually necessary only if the applicant does not speak English as the first language or the applicant has completed undergraduate requirements in a school that taught classes in a language other than English.
  • Interview with an admissions or departmental representative.
  • Submit a résumé or curriculum vitae.
  • Submit personal and/or academic references.

Deciding on the best master's degree for the future may depend on the prospective student's areas of interest in addition to the salary impact the degree may have. Looking at the projected growth in a field is also an important consideration.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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