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Most Popular Online Master’s Degrees

Most Popular Master’s Degrees

Whether you are seeking a fresh career change or hoping to advance in your current industry, a master’s degree can help equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to do so. Some master’s degree programs build on lessons taught at the undergraduate level, while others may provide advanced, intensive education with no prior experience needed. 

Most graduate degree programs require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree in order to be admitted. Applicants with bachelor’s degrees in their desired master’s field or a closely related field are often the most competent. Individuals who do not hold a bachelor’s degree in their intended master’s field may need to complete additional relevant prerequisite courses. Some advanced degrees may also require students to have prior professional experience or current careers in their field. Graduate admissions typically require application materials such as Graduate Record Exam test scores, letters of recommendation from relevant sources, prior education and grade point average records, and application essays. 

There are several master’s degree options to choose from, from the standard Master of Arts and Master of Science to the Master of Business Administration and the Master of Education. MA degrees tend to have roots in the liberal arts, such as literature, while MS degrees are rooted in the sciences. MA degree programs often culminate in a written research thesis, while MS programs may feature more applied capstone experiences, such as real-world scientific projects. Degrees such as MBA and M.Ed. may be delivered through more field-specific programs, with coursework that deals directly with degree candidates’ business or classroom work environment. Many graduate degree programs culminate in comprehensive exams. On the other hand, some graduate programs are strictly coursework-based and do not require a thesis or capstone project. 

As the world grows more digital, an increasing number of colleges and universities are offering master’s degree programs online. Some programs are offered entirely online via distance learning technologies such as Blackboard, email, and video conferencing software. Some are offered in a hybrid learning format that blends in-person and online courses. Others may include on-campus residency requirements and/or in-person fieldwork components. Online courses may be offered synchronously, asynchronously, or a blend of both. Synchronous course meetings are held live in real-time, often incorporating live lectures via video and encouraging student participation. Asynchronous courses typically involve lessons and content recorded or posted online so students can access them at a convenient time. Depending on their personal and professional obligations, grad students may choose to pursue their degree on a full-time or part-time basis. Pacing can vary, but many graduate programs can often be completed in two years.

No matter which degree program you choose, it is important to evaluate the money, time, and effort you will need to invest in your education. Of course, it is also important to choose a major that aligns with your personal interests and career goals. In this article, Master’s Program Guide offers you an overview of the Most Popular Online Master’s Degrees. We discuss information relevant to each field of study, including prerequisites, specialization areas, possible core and elective course examples, key coursework, typical salaries, and industry outlook. By educating yourself on these popular fields, you may become a step closer to figuring out the right one for you and a step closer to a bright academic and professional future.

See Also: 10 Best Master’s in Industrial Engineering

What Are the Most Popular Online Master’s Degrees?

We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of Master’s Programs Guide utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following three aspects:

40% Potential Salary After Graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni 

30% Institutional Accreditation: Regional and National Accreditation for the 2019-2020 school year 

30% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school

At Master’s Programs Guide, we strive to do our best to guide you and your family toward a fruitful academic career. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one, and we want to help you reach your goals.

Check out our ranking of the Most Popular Online Master’s Degrees

#1. Business Administration

Master of Business Administration

Whether you have a revolutionary startup idea or corporate executive ambitions, a Master of Business Administration will help you realize your professional vision. MBA programs enhance graduates’ insights and skills across a multitude of industries and occupations. The vast and various possibilities for business administration degree holders is largely what makes the MBA the most popular online master’s degree. 

MBA programs often welcome applicants from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds, though prior coursework in subjects such as accounting and statistics can be valuable. However, real-world business experience is often more important in business administration applicants. While some programs prioritize applicants with leadership experience in the business world, others welcome entry-level professionals with leadership aspirations. In any case, many MBA programs—particularly those offered online—are designed to accommodate individuals with full-time careers. 

When applying for MBA programs, you can expect to submit application materials such as official transcripts and undergraduate GPA records. Graduate applicants are also typically required to submit scores from the Graduate Management Admission Test or the Graduate Record Exam. In business program applications, professional references and essays discussing prior professional experiences can be particularly valuable.

Business administration requires far more nuanced skills than simply giving orders. Effective leadership requires a deep understanding of strong communication, market strategy, and beyond. Once enrolled in an MBA program, you can expect to learn about specialized areas of business administration such as accounting, economics, and finance; analytics and marketing; business ethics and law; communication; and entrepreneurship. You may take foundational courses in business strategy, organizational leadership, and operations management

As with many master’s degree programs, the MBA curriculum often culminates in the completion of a written master’s thesis. Degree candidates may focus their thesis on a business challenge specific to a particular industry, or even on challenges that arise in their own workplace. Students incorporate their real-world work experience and learned administrative skills to provide solutions to business problems and to strategize in order to prevent future issues.

While online students can access most course materials from the comfort of their own home, real-world experience is often a crucial aspect of a business degree. Instead of in the classroom, this experience may be obtained through internships, professional residency workshops, study abroad immersion experiences, and/or students’ current professional positions.

Earning an MBA in an online learning environment often allows students to maintain their current jobs and apply what they learn directly and immediately to their workplace. This can help those seeking advancement in their current company or industry. An MBA is also an appealing option for those who wish to change careers completely, or to become entrepreneurs and start family businesses or innovative startups of their own. Individuals who graduate with a Master of Business Administration will be prepared to lead in a variety of industry settings, including areas of business such as finance, human resources, marketing, or public relations. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that administrative services managers earned a median salary of $96,180 in 2018, and that the position is experiencing a faster-than-average 10-year growth rate of seven percent. A master’s degree can also increase graduates’ potential to become top business executives. The bureau reports that top executives earned a 2018 median salary of $104,980 and that demand for competent executives is increasing at a six-percent rate. No matter which career path you choose, an MBA degree can help you blaze the business trail.

#2. Criminal Justice

Master of Criminal Justice

If you watch Law & Order and Netflix true crime documentaries, you may have a sense of how exciting and engaging the criminal justice field can be. While criminal justice professionals should be prepared for the emotional challenges and sensitive situations the job presents, criminal justice intrigues and excites enough to be one of the most popular online majors. As its name suggests, the discipline promotes fair trials and fair punishments for criminals as well as justice for victims. If you value security, order, and fairness in society, a master’s degree in criminal justice can help you enforce and maintain those values. 

Master of Criminal Justice applicants may be required to have relevant work experience or undergraduate coursework in areas such as law enforcement or political science. The study of criminal justice incorporates fields such as law, psychology, and sociology. The human elements of the field address criminal behavior, mental health, the nuances of law, and causes and effects of crime in society. Contemporary criminal justice work also incorporates forensic science in the examination of crime scenes and evidence, such as DNA and fingerprints. While ethics play a crucial role in many professions, ethical and legal principles are particularly central to the criminal justice field. 

Graduate students majoring in criminal justice may have opportunities to explore realistic case studies and examine evidence in laboratory settings. Master of Criminal Justice programs typically culminate in a written research thesis, which often involves the examination of real-world case studies and criminal justice research and evidence. 

Master’s degrees in criminal justice prepare graduates to collect and evaluate information and evidence on possible crimes in order to protect people and property. Master of Criminal Justice degree holders may work in local, state, or federal government. They may work in positions such as criminal justice investigators, forensic scientists, and probation officers. Due to the growth of cybercrime through forms such as hacking, viruses, and information theft, criminal justice professionals may specialize their studies in cybercrime and/or information assurance. Graduates with an advanced understanding of the field may work for prestigious national agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Agency, or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Many criminal justice degree holders seek work as detectives or police officers. Individuals seeking these positions should be prepared for the physical demands, unpredictable hours, and danger of the work. Job candidates can expect on-the-job training and personal and physical evaluations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, police and detectives earned a median of $63,380 in 2018. The demand for personnel to fill these roles is growing at a standard five-percent rate. 

Rather than engaging directly in the field, some criminal justice graduates may teach students about corrections, criminal justice, and law enforcement in schools and colleges. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that postsecondary criminal justice and law enforcement teachers earned a 2018 median salary of $61,900. In any case, a master’s degree in criminal justice will build your understanding of how to promote and maintain a fair and safe society.

#3. Psychology

Master of Psychology 

The brain is a complex network of neurons that determines and governs all of our actions and experiences. Even minor imbalances or abnormalities can affect human behavior and perception in major ways. The machinations of the human mind can offer insights into who we are and why we feel and act the way we do. Those who are interested in the complexities of human behavior the conscious and unconscious mind can examine the multifaceted and popular field of psychology. 

Individuals who apply to graduate psychology programs are often expected to have completed undergraduate coursework in areas such as abnormal psychology and developmental psychology. Due to the sensitive nature of the field, those working with clients may need to meet additional requirements, like prior volunteer experience with vulnerable populations. Depending on their program, applicants may be required to pass a background check and hold health insurance in order to be admitted.

The field of psychology incorporates disciplines such as clinical work, healthcare, and even sports. It examines areas like cognitive processes, human development, and social behaviors. Psychology grad students can expect to explore historic and contemporary research in a variety of psychological areas, such as career counseling, consumer psychology, couples counseling, and forensic psychology

Psychology courses may cover ethics, health psychology, learning theories, psychopathology, quantitative methods, and beyond. Because the psychology discipline is so wide in scope, students may increase their career prospects and deepen their understanding by focusing their studies on a particular area of human psychology, whether it be child psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, psychopharmacology, or school psychology. Psychology students may engage in research fellowships or volunteer opportunities to enrich their understanding of various areas of psychology and diverse human needs. Capstone experiences may take the form of a clinical placement experience or research thesis project in their area of study. Graduates will have an understanding of human thought processes and the actions they provoke.

Psychology is likely a popular graduate major because a master’s degree is a minimum requirement for most careers in the field. Most psychology careers require applicants to have a master’s degree from an institution accredited by the American Psychological Association. APA-accredited programs require individuals to complete extensive clinical hours through practicum and internship experiences, including direct client contact, in approved settings nationwide. In order to work with vulnerable clients, individuals are also typically required to hold sufficient licensure in their state of practice, as well as malpractice insurance. 

A master’s degree in psychology typically requires two to three years of study beyond the undergraduate degree. Psychology degree holders may go on to work in research settings or clinical healthcare settings. Psychologists may work directly with individuals, families, or communities facing substance abuse challenges, post-traumatic stress disorders, family trauma, and beyond. They may work alongside counselors, doctors, and social workers. Psychology job responsibilities typically include psychological testing, assessment, and psychotherapy. According to Payscale, psychologists earn an average annual salary of $76,515. Alternatively, master’s degree holders may pursue further advanced study through doctoral programs in order to dive deeper into the fascinating human psyche.

#4. Nursing

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Health is, of course, one of the most fundamental human needs. Attentive and well-informed care when needed can be crucial to maintaining fundamental health throughout the lifespan. Individuals with the desire to take care of those who need it may seek a graduate degree in nursing. The nursing field not only requires a strong understanding of patient diagnoses and care plans, but also the sensitivity and strength to support patients and their families through health challenges.

Some nursing schools consider entry-level applicants with undergraduate degrees in non-nursing fields, but many seek applicants who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. No matter their undergraduate major, most students are required to complete prerequisite coursework in areas such as anatomy, human growth and development, microbiology, physiology, and statistics.

Alternatively, many schools offer program options for individuals who do not hold a bachelor’s degree in the field, but do hold Registered Nurse licensure. Individuals do not need a bachelor’s degree in order to earn RN licensure, though an associate degree in nursing is a minimum requirement. RN to MSN bridge programs typically take longer than standard nursing programs and feature more intensive study. Individuals who wish to use their graduate nursing degree to earn nursing licensure should make sure their chosen program aligns with the licensure requirements in their state of practice.

Core Master of Nursing curricula may cover healthcare fundamentals like anatomy, health assessment, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. Nursing students are often required to pursue a specialized program that focuses on a specific patient population. Common specialization options include nursing anesthesia, education, informatics, and midwifery, alongside practitioner programs to prepare family, gerontological, pediatric, or psychiatric nurses.

In online nursing programs, certain courses can be completed online. However, all nursing degrees include in-person components. As part of their program, nursing students may need a number of clinical hours that align with their chosen specialization. Online nursing students may be offered opportunities to earn clinical experience in university clinics, or they may be able to complete their clinical hours in their own communities, or even in their current health care work setting. Like many graduate degrees, master’s degrees in nursing take about two years to complete.

Nursing careers generally involve providing patient care and educating people about health conditions and concerns. Specialized nurses address specific patient needs in realms such as pediatrics, pregnancy, and psychiatrics. In any case, individuals with Master of Nursing degrees may work in hospitals, private practices, schools, and beyond. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median Registered Nurse salary at $71,730, which is equivalent to $34.48 hourly. The bureau also reports the demand for competent, compassionate nurses to be experiencing a 10-year growth rate of 12%, which is much faster than average. Nursing professionals in a specialized field – such as anesthetists, midwives, and practitioners – are reported to have earned a median 2018 salary of $113,930, which is equivalent to $54.78 hourly. A master’s degree is a minimum requirement for work in these specialized fields. Specialized nurses must also earn state licensure and national certification in order to practice. The demand for specialized nurses is growing at a significantly faster rate than average at 26%.

Whatever your nursing specialization, you can expect to exit your graduate nursing program with the skills and knowledge needed to provide exemplary care to patients and strong support to families.   

#5. Education

Master of Education

If knowledge is power, then teaching is empowering. Beyond teaching algebra or assigning essays on literary classics, teachers bestow students with the knowledge to guide them toward academic and professional success. Master’s degree programs in education allow students to lead by example, educating others by first educating themselves.

Graduate students may pursue Master of Arts in Teaching degrees, which tend to focus on advancing individuals’ abilities to teach in classrooms and work directly with students. A Master of Education degree often focuses less on teaching and instead on a specific area of education, such as administration, curriculum design, or technology.  M.Ed. programs often require applicants to have a teaching license or prior teaching experience in order to be admitted. Some education-related graduate programs require accepted students to hold current teaching positions or school-based jobs so they can implement lesson plans and teaching strategies in their workplace to meet certain coursework requirements. Other programs may consider applicants hoping to enter the teaching field with an undergraduate degree in a different field, though these applicants may need to take additional prerequisite courses. 

If grad students are seeking teaching licensure, certification, or other credentials through their master’s program, they should check with credentialing agencies in their state in order to ensure their chosen program meets sufficient educational requirements.

Possible MAT degree specializations may include early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, and special education. M.Ed. specializations or concentrations may focus on areas such as curriculum and instruction, counselor education, or educational administration. 

Core MAT and M.Ed. curricula may cover foundational topics such as curriculum design, curriculum theory, human development, principles of teaching and learning, and teaching students in diverse communities or those with particular needs. Other education-related program coursework will vary by each student’s chosen specialization. Many grad students are required to engage in work experience during an M.Ed. or MAT program. 

Individuals with education-related master’s degrees may go on to work in public or private elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges, or universities. Depending on their graduate specialization, their work responsibilities may include teaching, designing lesson plans, or completing administrative duties. Most teachers work during school hours and do not teach during the summer, though they may work outside of these hours to plan lessons and grade assignments. Public school teachers must have certification or licensure to teach in their state. 

Pay and job prospects vary according to the type of schools educators work in and the type of education they provide. According to the numbers reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the higher the level of education teachers are providing, the higher their salary will generally be. The 2018 median annual salary was $57,980 for kindergarten and elementary school teachers, $58,600 for middle school teachers, and $60,320 for high school teachers. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for these positions, though a master’s degree can increase teachers’ expertise in particular subjects or student populations. Individuals with master’s degrees may go on to pursue further doctoral study, which can prepare them to provide postsecondary education. Those who teach in colleges or universities typically earn a much higher salary of $78,470 per year. Alternatively, graduate Education majors may pursue work in educational administration. Elementary, middle, and high school principals made a median salary of $95,310 in 2018.

Similarly, the job outlook for teachers increases with the level of education they provide. The outlook for elementary and middle school teachers is growing at a slower-than-average 3% rate, while the outlook for high school teachers is growing at a 4% rate, which is about as fast as average. The demand for postsecondary teachers, however, is growing at a 10-year rate of 11%, which is much faster than the average growth across all industries

If you want to empower the next generation of students, you can increase your own knowledge and empower yourself first by pursuing a master’s degree in education. 

#6. Engineering

Master of Engineering

So much of our modern world is built by engineers, from zippers to smartphones to roads. If you want to help build an even more dynamic world in the future, you might consider a master’s degree in engineering. 

Master of Engineering degrees are typically open to applicants with bachelor’s degrees in engineering, mathematics, sciences, or other related fields. Prior mathematics courses in areas such as calculus and statistics are often requirements for graduate admission, as well as science courses such as basic chemistry and physics. Engineering-specific prerequisites may include coursework in computer science, electrical circuits, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and other relevant fields. Some programs may also require applicants to have prior work experience in a technical environment.

Engineering degrees are offered in a variety of disciplines, including aerospace, biological, biomedical, chemical, civil, electrical, computer, materials, mechanical, and systems engineering. Degrees in these disciplines may allow for further focused study in specialized areas such as astronautics, sustainability, or transformation systems. Engineering also encompasses emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and beyond.

Engineering programs often incorporate a study of fundamental business and managerial skills such as data management and business strategy to be used in engineering settings. Core engineering curricula may also cover project analysis, computer interfaces, and math for engineers. In addition to the core coursework, Engineering students can expect to take technical electives in their area of specialization. Capstone experiences may involve dynamic design projects, engineering internships, or technical analysis of engineering challenges. Students can often earn their Master of Engineering degree within one year of study, though it may take more time for part-time students.

The engineering field includes several different sectors, from agricultural engineering to naval architects to nuclear engineers. Engineers may go on to work in the nucleus of the tech industry in Silicon Valley, where companies such as Apple and Google are located. Others may work to help plan and build skyscrapers. Others still may work on a much smaller level, on devices such as microchips or chemical compounds for drugs, food, or fuel. Generally speaking, most engineers can expect to spend time analyzing, planning, and designing projects to align with industry and government standards in safety, environmentalism, financing, and beyond. If providing goods or services to the public or seeking senior positions, engineers must be licensed. 

According to a 2018 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the largest engineering field is civil engineering. Civil engineering focuses on infrastructure from sewage systems to airports to bridges. The bureau reports that civil engineers earned a median salary of $86,640 in 2018, and that the field is growing at a typical 10-year rate of 6%. The second and third most popular areas are mechanical and industrial engineering. Mechanical engineers often work with machinery or automotives, while industrial engineers work on designing efficient and effective systems for products and services in contemporary industry. The 2018 median pay was $87,370 for mechanical engineers and $87,040 for industrial engineers. The mechanical engineering field is growing at a typical 4% rate, while industrial engineering is growing at an 8% rate, which is faster than the industry average.

Whether you are interested in building agricultural equipment or planning big city skylines, a master’s degree in engineering can help you build and plan your future. 

#7. Healthcare Administration

Master of Healthcare Administration

Careful and well-informed administration is crucial to effective healthcare. The leadership and planning side of the healthcare industry is what keeps healthcare services efficient, organized, and effective. If you are interested in managing health information and care facilities, you may be interested in pursuing a master’s degree in healthcare administration.

While some Master of Healthcare Administration programs are open to applicants with undergraduate degrees in any field, a major in healthcare administration or a related biological science or health field can boost applicants’ prospects. Prior coursework in relevant fields such as business, communications, psychology, and other sciences can also be helpful.

Healthcare administration requires communication, leadership, and technical skills as well as business skills in areas such as finance, management, and marketing. The field covers a wide variety of specialization areas, including human resources, patient advocacy, and program direction. MHA students may also specialize in the management of healthcare finances, facilities, or programs. 

A core MHA curriculum typically covers areas such as economics, finance, law, and management in healthcare environments. Students can expect to become familiar with the financial, regulatory, and social aspects of healthcare organizations. They typically learn about ethics, human resources, informatics and information systems, policies, and quality control in the healthcare industry. Elective options may examine more specialized topics such as health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, and nonprofit healthcare organizations. MHA programs also often include practicum and/or internship components to give individuals administrative experience in clinical settings.

Healthcare administrators are also called healthcare executives or medical and health services managers. Individuals in these positions may hold job titles such as clinical manager, health information manager, or nursing home administrator. In general terms, healthcare administrators are responsible for coordinating and leading healthcare facilities, personnel, and services. Healthcare administration must align with current healthcare laws, regulations, and technologies. Administrative duties typically focus on monitoring facilities, employees, and services for quality, safety, and efficiency. The job may involve record keeping, finance management, making schedules, and training staff. Healthcare managers work in settings such as nursing homes; government agencies; physician’s offices; and local, private, state, or university hospitals.

A bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum requirement for medical and health services managers, though many prospective healthcare administrators also hold master’s degrees. Job candidates usually also have prior administrative or clinical experience in healthcare settings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for individuals to fill healthcare management roles is growing at a 10-year rate of 18%, which is much faster than the average growth across all industries. The bureau reports that healthcare administrators earned a median salary of $99,730 in 2018. 

As an educated and competent healthcare administrator, you can lead in the business of caring for those who need it most.

#8. Computer Science

Master of Computer Science

In an increasingly wired world, it may come as no surprise that computer science is currently one of the most popular online master’s degrees. Because individuals seeking degrees in computer science are likely interested in and familiar with computers, it makes sense that many choose to pursue the degree online.

In order to be admitted into a computer science master’s degree program, applicants typically need to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a similar technical field. Related fields include electrical and computer engineering, information science, and operations research. While some programs consider students with bachelor’s degrees in other fields, all applicants should have a precursory knowledge of areas such as data structures, math, and programming.

Depending on their interests and goals, students may choose from a variety of specializations under the computer science umbrella, from information assurance and cybersecurity to big data and interface design. Other options may include computer graphics, human-computer interaction, machine learning, robotics, simulations and modeling, and visual analytics. 

Graduate computer science curricula may cover a broad range of areas in the computer science field, or they may focus on more specific topics relating to one of the specializations mentioned above. In any case, computer science grad students may learn about topics such as computer architecture, parallel programming, software evaluation, database management, and user interfaces. Depending on the program and specialization, some students may have opportunities to complete projects in data analysis, digital design, and so on.

Like many graduate programs, computer science master’s degree programs are often designed to be completed in two years of study. Computer science graduate degree holders may go on to pursue careers as computer and information research scientists. More specifically, they may work in the areas of data science, programming, or robotics. Individuals in these positions typically introduce innovations, examine problems, and design solutions for computing problems. These problems may relate to a variety of areas, from business and industry to science and medicine. Job duties may include inventing new computing languages, methods, and tools; developing, improving, and testing software systems; analyzing results; and publishing and presenting research findings. 

Most computer and information research scientist positions require a master’s degree and an advanced understanding of the field. Individuals in these positions earned a median income of $118,370 in 2018. Because many industries are growing increasingly technologically reliant, advanced computing skills are in high demand. Computer Science graduates can expect a strong job outlook, with the field growing at a much-faster-than-average rate of 16%.

With a master’s degree in computer science, you can learn about innovation in computing complexities in an increasingly complex, innovative world.

#9. Accounting

Master of Accounting

Behind every business operation, big or small, is an accounting department—or one single, hardworking accountant. No matter how lucrative a business may be, a strong accounting department is a crucial component to its financial stability. In the past, accounting has involved lots of paper, but it is now becoming an increasingly digital process. By earning a master’s degree in accounting online, graduate students can gain online experience in the fundamental, specialized, and cutting-edge principles and practices of accounting.

Graduate accounting programs typically require a bachelor’s degree, ideally in accounting, finance, or a related field. Individuals who enter graduate accounting programs with relevant undergraduate degrees can typically earn their degree in two years. Others may take longer because they may need to take prerequisite courses in areas such as finance, pre-calculus, principles of accounting, or statistics.

Graduate accounting students may focus on a particular area of accounting, such as financial, forensic, tax, or cost accounting. Other specializations may include economics and finance, taxation, mergers and acquisitions, real estate finance, and beyond. General accounting courses may cover topics such as accounting ethics, accounting information systems, financial reporting, international accounting, and tax research. 

Some accounting programs require students to complete internship placements or work experiences in financial settings, which students may be able to carry out in their own workplace. To culminate their accounting studies, students may be required to complete capstone projects that tackle real-world fiscal issues or strategize financial plans for a real or imagined company.

Individuals with Accounting degrees may go on to become accountants or auditors. Accountants and auditors keep financial records and monitor taxes for compliance with laws and regulations. According to the most recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $70,500 in 2018. The demand for individuals to fill these positions is projected to grow by 6% from 2018 to 2028, which is about as fast as average across all industries.

Accounting degree holders may also become budget analysts, monitoring the spending of a company in order to keep the business’ finances balanced. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 2018 median pay of $76,220 for budget analysts. The job outlook is growing at a 10-year rate of 4%, which is as fast as average. Financial analysts, on the other hand, evaluate investment possibilities according to the current economic climate. Financial analysts earned a median salary of $85,660 in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau reports a standard 6% growth rate for financial analyst positions by 2028.

Accounting majors may also choose to pursue careers as personal financial advisors. Personal financial advisors work with individuals to educate them on financial areas such as insurance, investments, and taxes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ estimate for 2018 median pay was $88,890 in 2018. The job outlook for these positions is projected to grow by 7% by 2028.

A master’s degree in accounting may also equip graduates with the advanced knowledge to become financial managers. Financial managers are responsible for organizing business’ long-term financial practices and policies. They earned an estimated $127,990 in 2018, and the job outlook looks promising, with a 16% projected growth by 2028, which is much faster than average.

Whether you plan to manage the finances of a major global corporation or advise self-employed entrepreneurs on their taxes, a master’s degree in accounting can deepen your understanding of the fiscal principles that help businesses thrive.

#10. Human Services

Master of Human Services

In a way, it seems like the phrase “human services” could fit most modern industries, from restaurants and retail to banking and medicine. After all, most of these industries involve serving humans, whether with food, goods, financial services, or healthcare. But in academic terms, “human services” applies to strictly social, person-to-person industries, and particularly those in social work and related fields. With a master’s degree in human services, you can serve your fellow humans by learning how to help them fulfill their personal and social needs.

Many graduate human services programs require students to hold a bachelor’s degree in human services or a closely related field, such as communications, social work, psychology, or sociology. Individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree outside of human services may need to take additional prerequisite courses in relevant subjects.

Many human services degrees are Master of Social Work degrees. Because the field is so broad, most human services programs require students to choose a specialization in a particular human challenge or population. Specialization options may include such diverse fields as child and family services, gerontology and aging populations, nonprofit administration, and substance abuse

Human services core curricula may include courses in areas such as counseling, cultural diversity, ethics, family functioning, legal issues, program planning, or social policy. Specialized courses may address specific client populations, such as children, elderly patients, families, individuals battling addictions, trauma survivors, or veterans. It may seem counterintuitive to complete a human services master’s degree online, as a desire to work directly with people is necessary for the job. However, many online human services programs require students to complete field internship placements, in which they will gain hours of direct client contact experience. Capstone experiences often relate directly to what students learn during these in-person interactions with clients. 

Human services careers include counseling, social work, and religious work. The general human services sphere is projected to grow by 11%by 2028, which is a much faster than average growth rate. Counselor and social worker positions are expected to experience the most of this growth, particularly in areas such as career counseling, rehabilitation and substance abuse counseling, and school counseling. Other human services job titles include health educator, marriage and family therapist, and probation officer.

Generally speaking, counselors and social workers help people work through problems in their daily lives, in the areas of health and mental health as well as human relationships and professional decisions. They may work in hospitals, human service agencies, mental health clinics, nonprofit organizations, or schools. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers earned a median salary of $49,470 in 2018. In keeping with the job outlook for human services careers overall, the social work sphere is also experiencing a much-faster-than-average 10-year growth rate of 11%. The bureau reports that mental health counselors earned a 2018 median salary of $44,630, and that the job outlook for counselors is experiencing a whopping 10-year growth rate of 22%. This growth is likely due to the fact that mental health is growing less taboo and more people are seeking help for a variety of personal and interpersonal challenges. 

With a master’s degree in human services, you can contribute to making the world a healthier, happier, and more stable place, one person at a time.


#11. Information Science/Information Technology  

Median Salary: $118,370

Growth Rate: 16%


#12. Public Administration

Median Salary: $96,180

Growth Rate: 7%


#13. Health Informatics     

Median Salary: $40,350

Growth Rate: 11%


#14. Finance    

Median Salary: $127,990

Growth Rate: 16%


#15. Human Resources   

Median Salary: $60,880

Growth Rate: 5%



Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor