What Are the Most Popular Graduate Degrees?

As a result of the recession a number of students are going to graduate school.  According to in its annual Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools, the number of applications to grad school has increased by an average of 4.8 percent per year between 1999 and 2009, and shot up 8.3 percent between 2008 and 2009 alone.

Some degree programs had a larger increase than others.  The study found a combined 51 percent of the total number of master’s degrees awarded in 2009 were in either business or education. By contrast, 7.2 percent of master’s degrees were granted in engineering, 8.6 percent were in health sciences and 4.1 percent were in either mathematics or computer science.

Despite the fact that only 4 percent of master’s degrees were awarded in math or computer science in 2009, for example, many of today’s fastest growing professions are in these disciplines.

To illustrate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the following jobs will experience the fastest growth from 2008-2018 (based on percentage change in number of jobs). Most are in health care, computer science and engineering:

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

The occupations expected to have the largest number of job openings through 2018 (measured by anticipated number of jobs added from 2008-2018), both post-secondary and elementary school teachers break the top 15. Job openings for post-secondary teachers are expected to jump by 257,000 through 2018, while jobs for elementary school teachers will grow by 244,000.

As the economy improves, jobs which have better salaries and working conditions will have more applicants than education.  Where will the new educators come from unless societies recognize the value that education and educators have with future engineers, scientists and health professionals?