If you plan to apply to graduate school, it's likely you already have a pretty good idea as to what type of credential you want to pursue. However, it never hurts to know what graduate programs appeal to other students.
While everyone has his or her own preferences, new data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that the Master of Business Administration has become the most popular master's degree[i].
The MBA's Time to Shine
Information from the department, which was highlighted by Vox, shows just how popular the MBA has become over the past several decades. There was a time not too long ago when the Master of Education was king[ii].
In 1971, for example, the number of students pursuing the Master of Education made up 37.2 percent of graduate enrollment, compared to 11.2 percent for the MBA. Jump ahead 10 years and you learn that the MBA began to catch up with the advanced education degree. In 1981, 32 percent of students were working toward the Master of Education, while the same was true of 19.1 percent for the MBA.
The gap between the two credentials narrowed even further by 2002, and 2012 data revealed that the MBA had overtaken the Master of Education as the most popular master's degree. Of all the master's degrees earned in 2012, a total of 25.4 percent were MBAs, compared to the 23.6 percent that were Master of Education credentials.
The MBA is an Important Degree
One of the potential reasons that the MBA has become so popular due to its potential value in the current job market. Recent years have been challenging for job seekers, but there are those who believe business schools have adapted well to the ups and downs of the economy to help better prepare students to pursue entry into the workforce.
"Businesses have grown enormously in complexity and scope, and more than ever, they need ethical, skilled, well-educated, creative leaders who are global in outlook," Paul Danos, dean of Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business, told Poets & Quants. "Business education in general and the great MBA programs in particular have adapted as these demands have grown, perhaps better than any other form of advanced education[iii]."
Of course, there are many reasons why you many want to consider pursuing an MBA, from the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the business sector to a chance to potentially improve your employment prospects. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you may even receive a higher salary. In 2013, the median weekly earnings for master's degree holders were $1,329, compared to $1,108 for those who had only earned a bachelor's degree[iv].
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[i] nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_318.20.asp | [ii] vox.com/2014/5/20/5734816/masters-degrees-are-as-common-now-as-bachelors-degrees-were-in-the-60s | [iii] poetsandquants.com/2014/05/26/why-the-mba-is-now-the-most-popular-masters/ | [iv] bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm