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Top masters degrees in demand to secure your future

The history, of a masters degree, is quite a long one. In fact it goes back to a couple of centuries before even Henry VIII came and went, leaving behind a trail of headless wives. It began as a symbol of learnedness and the license to teach in any University. Hence the term Master.

It carried on, in various shapes, through the centuries. From being conferred, without an examination, to deserving baccalaureates, it slowly transformed into something more like a degree with the initially all encompassing Master of Arts branching out to Masters in Science in the 19th century.

Over the years, Masters has been recognized as an advanced degree, with a strong measure of specialization after ones’ Bachelors and the prerequisite before a jump into the rigorous Doctoral degree.

In 2015, there were a few million students enrolled in post-baccalaureate degree programs in the US, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2014-15, the number of Masters degrees, awarded, were nearly 800,000.

A Masters degree has its advantages, if the choice is made in the right spirit. Read how a master’s degree can help your career during and after recession. The RoI is a function of elements that feature in the case of any advanced academic commitment. It’s value is assessed upon arriving at a satisfactory response to the following questions.

  • Am I passionate about the field?
  • Do I have the time and resources to commit 2 years of my life to higher education?
  • Will the post-Masters salary outweigh the financial burden of the money spent on tuition?
  • Are there promising job prospects for my chosen field of specialization?
  • Do I have the option to pursue my MS degree in a good school, known for its standard of MS education?
  • Would it be better to gain two years of work experience instead?

You can detour to the following articles for an inspiration.

And if you’re interested in an MBA more than a specialized masters degree, MBA Crystal Ball has some of the best MBA admission consultants in the industry. Send us an email (info at mbacrystalball dot com) if you’d like professional help with your applications.
In this article, we will discuss some of the most well known, well recognized, reputed, and rewarded MS degrees in the US. Clearly, if you are here, you are either nearing your Bachelors graduation, or perhaps toying with the idea of re-entering academia from the world of employment.

Whichever it is, you are probably a member of so-n-so subject field. Unless you are keen on a major career change, you probably have a specialization in mind, akin to your previous Bachelors degree. This piece of online literature is meant to highlight what you might be expecting after your MS.

If your field doesn’t feature, below, you can try your luck with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, and the study on the Economic Value of College Majors, conducted by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, that we have used to collate this data from.

Best masters degrees in demand to secure your future



The degrees are arranged based on three parameters:

  • Median salary: Expected median salary between the ages 25-29 years based on data from the Georgetown University study.
  • Bachelors to Masters salary hike: Expected rise in median salary upon completion of a graduate degree (Georgetown University study).
  • Popularity: The number of Masters graduates in the years 2013-14 and 2014-15, indirectly indicating popularity and enrollment (Sourced from US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS), and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System(IPEDS)) .

First the broad majors are ranked based on normalized weights of the above factors. The subsequent sub-majors are then arranged based on the individual salaries, salary hike and job prospects, if available, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here are the results, beginning with the broad majors, followed by the drill down on the sub-majors. The format is there to highlight the importance, and usefulness, of a graduate degree in various independent fields.

Masters Ranking for Broad Majors

  1. Business Majors
  2. Biological Sciences Majors
  3. Education
  4. Health Majors
  5. Physical Sciences (STEM)
  6. Architecture and Engineering Majors (STEM)
  7. Social Sciences
  8. Computer, Statistics, and Mathematics (STEM)
  9. Law and Public Policy
  10. Humanities and Liberal Arts
  11. Communication and Journalism
  12. Industrial Arts, Consumer Services, and Recreation
  13. Arts Majors


Top Masters Degree Majors and their Sub-Majors that are in demand


Business Masters Degrees


Sub-Major Median Salary

(Age 25-29 years)

% Change in Salary from Bachelor’s
Accounting $91,000 32%
Finances $101,000 38%
Management Information Systems and Statistics $92,000 19%
Business Economics $100,000 33%
Marketing and Marketing Research $81,000 29%


Biological Sciences Masters Degrees

Sub-Major Median Salary
(Age 25-29 years)
% Change in Salary from Bachelor’s
Zoology $104,000 79%
Biology $96,000 71%
Biomedical Sciences $97,000 64%
Molecular Biology $88,000 63%
Microbiology $89,000 44%


Education Masters Degrees

Sub-Major Median Salary

(Age 25-29 years)

% Change in Salary from Bachelor’s
Physical and Health Education Teaching $67,000 31%
General Education $60,000 30%


Health Major Masters Degrees

Sub-Major Median Salary

(Age 25-29 years)

% Change in Salary from Bachelor’s
Health and Medical Preparatory Programs $128,000 137%
Health and Medical Administrative Services $80,000 45%
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences $115,000 5%
Nursing $88,000 33%


STEM Fields for Masters Degrees

Sub-Major Median Salary

(Age 25-29 years)

% Change in Salary from Bachelor’s
Statistics $100,000 28%
Geosciences $98,000 53%
Chemistry $104,000 63%
Mathematics and Applied Mathematics $106,000 28%
Biomedical Engineering $87,000 24%
Engineering Mechanics, Physics and Sciences $107,000 32%
Computer Information Systems and Information Sciences $85,000 23%
Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology $84,000 27%
Computer Science $100,000 20%
Civil Engineering $101,000 22%
Environmental Engineering $88,000 16%
Mechanical Engineering $88,000 28%
Mining and Mineral Engineering $106,000 9%
Chemical Engineering $109,000 11%
Architecture and Architectural Engineering $76,000 13%

Now that you are sufficiently alarmed about the expected gains, your logical next step should be to assess your interest, narrow down your specialization, and research the gains against the particulars of your final choice. The online resources are open and available for anyone to explore their choices.

Finally, if you are indeed satisfied with your survey, you can visit our Guide to MS Degree page for some further scoop. And if you feel that academia is calling beyond the Masters, take a peek into the article, Is a PhD worth it?

We hope that this provides you the platform to kickstart your plans for a Masters program that changes your career for the better.
[Editor’s note: On 1st July 2021, we added the following new section to see how applicant views have changed over time.]


What to study after COVID 19

Since COVID 19 turned the world topsy-turvy, there’s been a lot of speculation about how the higher education space will be affected. At a more basic level, we also wanted to find out – will the traditional masters degree that ruled the roost for decades, still be a popular option in the new world order?

Rather than relying on experts’ opinions, we decided to directly ask those who have higher education on their to-do list in the post COVID-19 scenario.

We carried out a survey on our LinkedIn and Youtube social media pages, where thousands of serious higher ed aspirants follow us.

We asked a simple question.

In the post COVID-19 world, which degree would be the most valued?

We heard back from over 3,300 aspirants. While the distribution of votes varied across the two platforms, the final ranking was the same.

The MBA degree was the top choice with a clear majority garnering 59% votes.

Specialized Masters degree came a distant second with 31% votes.

PhD was the least preferred degree in the list with a 6% share of the votes.

Interestingly, the wild card option (‘Others’) ended up with around 4% votes. More on this later.

Here’s the breakup of how participants responded on the two platforms.

What to study after COVID 19

The clue to why some respondents may have chosen ‘Others’ lies in the comments they shared in the survey. There’s a feeling that formal degrees may become less relevant compared to real world experience and skills.

Elaborating on this point, Shailesh S B, who has over 13 years of experience in the education sector, says: “Degrees are not going to be of any use unless they are accompanied by learning. In my opinion, hands-on experience is going to be the key. A large majority of the people who earn any of the above credentials are going to do it from Tier 2 or 3 Institutes and so their experience will become all the more important.”

But what about young folks who’re grappling with the Catch-22 situation – no experience without a good job, and no job without good experience?

Shailesh has some words of advice. “That’s always a challenge, isn’t it!” he says. “I suggest that youngsters should identify people who are working on relevant projects and offer to work with them – maybe something like an internship. It can be unpaid, but that’s ok when you are in your twenties and have a support base at home.”

Daksh Shah, a senior product manager with Amazon in the United States says:
“An MBA from a reputed institution matters for structured hiring pipelines by larger organizations who traditionally hire MBAs and continue to have good results with this process. There will be more Specialized Masters programs from reputed institutions as the demand and supply of talent increases, and institutions/programs find ways to differentiate themselves from each other. From a prospective student’s perspective, figure out your target industry, apply to the institute that has a high reputation within that industry, in any program. PhDs are different – you have to really be curious about a specific area and comfortable with the lifestyle of a researcher.”

London-based Deepak Ojha used his Cambridge MBA to switch careers (from IT to angel investing). Here’s how he differentiates between the options:
“Each degree has it’s own merits and cons. An MBA would make sense if earned from a reputed institution (it would definitely help get a foot in the door), a PhD would open doors for highly specialized roles. For specialized masters, I can’t see a case unless earned from a top institution – considering most people go for STEM courses, and such masters are now a way to enter a new market or score extra points for immigration purposes.

Other representative comments:

Recommendations & referrals with demonstrated skills matter more than degrees to get a foot in the door.

Any degree which can make a person skilled with the skills that aren’t replaceable by AI, Automation will be valuable.

Also read
Most useless degrees
Masters in Tourism and Hospitality Management – Career Prospects and Top Schools


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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

8 thoughts on “Top masters degrees in demand to secure your future”

  1. Hi There,
    I did B Tech in ME with a GPA equivalent of 3.5 . Then, I gained a full time work experience of 2 years in an industry. But owing to lack of growth opportunities, I resigned. Since then, I have been working as a freelance tutor for about 4 years.
    Is it apt for me to pursue an MS in Aerospace engineering from the US? I have been thinking of pursuing it since the past, but things didn’t fell in place.
    What will be job opportunities after MS? Please give a real time scenario.

  2. Hi Sammer,

    I am right now 30 yrs of age. I do work in a service industry where there is lot of travelling. I couldn’t attempt for MBA at previous years because of financial problems in my home. Right now i am pretty tired as hell with my travelling job and being in the service industry looking for other job means same travelling job and all with better pay. I have almost 6 yrs of exp. I want to leave this field of service ( travelling and all) . Will doing MBA and passing out at 33 or 34 will it worth taking a risk. Moreover at 33 or 34 will i able to secure placement from MBA colleges in India (Fear of being too old for MBA and Placement candidate). Please help me i need information in this regard.

    My Profile 10-82%
    Exp- 6 yrs (Plus)
    Industry- Instrumentation

  3. I have completed my in university, with 81% iam willing to join MBA in canada for 1year program, i didnt attempt any online exams like ielts, tofel, GRE..
    But iam willing to join in MBA, online exams are necessary to join in MBA, when I have to apply for admission & which universities are better for that.. Can u suggest me……

  4. Hi Sameer,
    I did my BE in computer from Pune university and after that did MBA in IT from symbiosis .I am working as pre sales executive in IT industry for more than a year. Now I am not finding my job satisfactory. As I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and work towards something innovative but I think I dont have enough knowledge about entrepreneurship and related things.What would you suggest on this.Which course should I prefer MS or MBA.If MBA then which sub branch like marketing or any other ?
    Thanks in advance 🙂 you are doing a great job

  5. Hi Sameer,

    I am working IT professional with 1.5 years of experience in software development. I am very confused about doing M. TECH (GATE) or MS (GRE) .
    I have previously written GATE exam but it was tough to get in top 200 rank. My rank was 1900. For MS, I am planning GRE this year. But i have no idea how to make good profile for my application at good universities. I have CGPA of 7.4 in graduation. NO Publications.
    And also confused with USA as well as Canada.
    Is there any work visa issue in USA after masters?
    How to make profile better for MS?
    Or else i should try GATE again?

    Please suggest. I am very confused.

  6. Hi Sameer, I am an entrepreneur delivering software solutions for improving business processes in SME sector in Nagpur. I have experience of 3 years in NGOs like Ennovent and Nagpur SPCA. I have worked for over 12 years in Infosys leading ERP implementations across multiple domains and geographies (USA,UK, Japan,Canada,Malaysia) and working with teams of five different nationalities. I also coach urban women domestic workers for internet literacy and run free computer literacy classes for underprivileged students. I am also an Certified Pet Groomer, volunteering at SPCA for grooming of adoption-ready animals.

    I have done my graduation from IIT-BHU, 8.23/10, merit-cum-need scholarhsip, since my father was a tube well operator in IIT Kanpur. I was the first one from my colony to land in an IIT. My GMAT score was 660, I am giving it again in next one week, and am at 720 for the past one week in my mock exams.

    With my experience, which college should I look for to do an MBA? I would like to work at a Director level in an NGO so that I can learn and build a network to take my internet literacy program further. Please let me know your thoughts on this.

  7. @Anurag: Was your engineering in the same or related field? If so, you can surely try for an MS in the same field. I don’t know much about the job opportunities in the US for Aerospace. Check with students who are currently pursuing the course.

    @Avirup: You can try for one year MBA options in India and Europe. However, there is no such thing as a ‘secure placement’. Read this:

    @Lavanya: All the good programs will insist on a competitive GMAT / GRE score in addition to an English proficiency test such as IELTS or TOEFL. Skipping it wouldn’t be a good idea.

    @Rajesh: Entrepreneurship is one such area where you’ll never have ‘enough’ knowlesge, so don’t wait for that magical momemnt. Start small and experience it for yourself. Then decide if an MS or MBA is really needed.

    @Pratibha: We’ve create this guide for MS applications. Do check it out:

    @Ajay: If you want to continue in the field with social impact, this may help:


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