Ten of The Most Enrolled Masters Majors

Students select a master’s degree to find a better job, improve their skills and to take advantage of growth opportunities that may come their way. However, not all master’s degrees are worth the effort. Some master’s degrees have a better pay off than others. So the decision, when selecting a graduate program, needs to be taken carefully. You need to do all your homework because you don’t want your investment to fall flat. You would want to spend your time, money, and energy into a program that ensures a suitable return. It is true that numbers and percentages for degree programs could get overwhelming. However, here you can find simple and straight-forward information to select a master’s degree that is popular among students and may add value to your future.

The data mentioned below is taken from the National Center for Educational Statistics.


Total Enrollment (2000-2012) 1,991,582

Percentage Increase (2000-2012) 27.42%

Master’s degree in education has shown the highest average growth from 2000 to 2012. However, the enrollments only increased till the year 2006, and then went through a steady decline. Students aimed for a master’s degree in education in order to get better paying jobs. With a master’s degree and relevant work experience, students could acquire specialized jobs in the field. Some popular job options for master’s degree holders in education are lead teacher, curriculum developer, adult educator, and school administrator.


Total Enrollment (2000-2012) 1,822,073

Percentage Increase (2000-2012) 24.89%

The master’s degree in Business has shown the second highest average growth in student enrollments. This degree experienced maximum growth between the years 2009 and 2011. Students chose a master’s degree in business because it opens up many career opportunities and also helps them get better salaries. A master’s degree in business can also be opted to specialize in a particular area of business. Some business professions with high employment growth and substantial salaries (as stated by BLS) include HR Specialist, Financial Analyst, IT Manager, and Management Analyst.

3.Health professions and related programs

Total Enrollment (2000-2012) 676,780

Percentage Increase (2000-2012) 9.17%

Although master’s in health professions and related programs shows a high student enrollment, the steady increase in enrollments took place between the years 2005 and 2012.  This master’s degree program is opted by nurses, doctors, and clinic professionals who want to acquire skills in teaching. After getting the degree, graduates have the option to become a faculty member in school of medicine or nursing. They can also work as clinicians who train new professionals.


Total Enrollment (2000-2012) 383,685

Percentage Increase (2000-2012) 5.26%

The maximum growth experienced by master’s degree in engineering was 5.8% from 2003-2004. Although the growth in student enrollments varied, it still remained among the highly enrolled master’s degrees. Engineers normally opt for a master’s degree in engineering to pursue management positions in the field. Some employers also help professionals pursue master’s degrees in engineering so they can have quality engineering managers. The degree program covers both technical as well as soft skills to train professionals for various management positions.

5.Public administration and social services

Total Enrollment (2000-2012) 379,067

Percentage Increase (2000-2012) 5.18%

For master’s degree in Public administration and social services, the maximum growth in student enrollments was 5.5% in 2011-2012. Students pursuing the degree can work as administrators in social work organizations and in the public sector. The degree aims to develop administrative skills which are crucial for the public sector. Students can also study a combined program consisting of public administration and social services. The coursework in the first year normally focuses on social work, while public administration courses are offered in the second year.


Total Enrollment (2000-2012) 248,075

Percentage Increase (2000-2012) 3.39%

The Master’s degree in psychology experienced maximum growth in student enrollment during 2011-2012. Students opt for a psychology degree to open up many new career opportunities. Plus, master’s degree is also a transition to a PhD degree, which is necessary to become a practicing psychologist. A wide range of specialty areas are available in the degree. Graduates with a master’s degree in psychology can opt for careers such as school psychologists, social workers, counselors, and educational psychologists.

7.Computer and information sciences

Total Enrollment (2000-2012) 218,749

Percentage Increase (2000-2012) 3.05%

The maximum growth in student enrollments experienced by masters in computer and information sciences was 3.8% in 2002-2003. Although, the student enrollment has varied over the years, it is one of the master’s degrees that has lead to many lucrative careers. The master’s degree in computer and information sciences makes students ready for professional practice. It also prepares them for advanced studies and research in the field. Students can select their concentration areas such as computer networks and security, information systems, database management, computer graphics, web technology, and game design. With a master’s degree in computer and information sciences, students can grow in their existing career or they can participate in technical research.

8.  Social sciences and history   

Total Enrollment (2000-2012) 211,559

Percentage Increase (2000-2012) 2.89%

The master’s degree in social sciences and history has experienced constant growth of 2.9 percent from 2003 to 2012. A degree in social sciences gives students a strong academic foundation and offers them opportunities to develop skills that are in demand. Employers prefer to hire people with communication, technical, critical thinking, problem solving, and analytical skills that are developed by social science degrees. A number of job opportunities are available with a master’s degree in social science. Graduates can become research assistants, high school teachers, market analysts, social workers, and academic advisors.

9.Visual and performing arts

Total Enrollment (2000-2012) 166,609

Percentage Increase (2000-2012) 2.29%

The maximum growth in student enrollment in the master’s degree of visual and performing arts was 2.4% in 2001. The enrollments have been growing in the area but at an uneven rate. With the degree, students acquire advanced knowledge and skills in areas such as film, theatre, music, dance, and performing arts. The degree provides professional training in acting, costume design, voice performance, script writing, and dance. After completing the core courses, students can select their concentration such as music, film, or dance. Graduates can choose from a variety of professions. Some include theatre consultants, drama teachers, performers, stage managers, and choreographers.

10.Theology and Religious Vocations

Total Enrollment (2000-2012) 141,658

Percentage Increase (2000-2012) 1.95%

The master’s degree in theology and religious vocations experienced maximum growth in student enrollments in the year 2001. The enrollments have been growing since that time, but at an unsteady rate. Students having a master’s degree in theology can become promoters of their religion and teach it to congregations. Most work in the area is done as a service to the religion, but this career is still deemed as a job. With the degree, graduates can become educators, scholars, missionaries, and religious leaders. Most graduates find work in religious organizations, but they can also work in professional schools, home healthcare services, and universities.




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