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Most popular grad school majors in America

  • Most popular grad school majors in America

    An estimated 3 million students will enter graduate programs around the U.S. this fall, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. These students seek to differentiate themselves in a modern workforce increasingly dominated by professionals with bachelor’s degrees. Graduate programs, in which students pursue master’s degrees, provide a way for students to delve deeper into their chosen fields.

    To help students, parents, educators, and hiring managers understand where the next wave of highly skilled workers will come from, Stacker used data from FiveThirtyEight, using PUMS data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey, to rank American graduate school majors by how many students were enrolled in each major in 2012. Data for students who had a full-time job year-round, students who were unemployed, and median pay for all students are included, as well.

    A common trend on this list is the prevalence of STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Today’s college students grew up as the internet was expanding into a rich source of jobs and witnessed the excitement around tech companies and innovations. STEM fields also are more lucrative, with higher starting salaries than liberal-arts degrees.

    However, advanced liberal arts degrees, including political science, history, sociology, communications, and English, are still popular. These specializations give students an advanced understanding of how society functions, preparing them for careers in a growing service economy, which prioritizes human interactions and critical thinking over rote memorization and technical ability.

    Whether you’re thinking about attending graduate school or you’re hiring and would like to know where the next wave of high-skilled workers is coming from, this list will provide insight on the future of the American workforce. Read on to find out the #1 graduate program in the country, which beat its runner-up by over 60,000 students.

    You may also like: Most trusted professions in America

  • #100. Information sciences

    - Number of students with this major: 11,913
    - Median salary with a graduate degree: $45,000
    - Graduate students who work part-time: 14%
    - Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 6%

    More and more of America’s top-tier businesses have intricate relationships with their clients’ data. Understanding how to secure that data, utilize it for business insights, and gather new data on potential clients or users is important to many companies, making an advanced information science degree a popular choice among students.

  • #99. Multi/interdisciplinary studies

    - Number of students with this major: 12,296
    - Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
    - Graduate students who work part-time: 28%
    - Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 11%

    While not a specific major itself, many students go to graduate school with specific plans for their degree that may not match any existing program. These students would combine fundamentals of multiple majors into one interdisciplinary course of study.

  • #98. Health & medical preparatory programs

    - Number of students with this major: 12,740
    - Median salary with a graduate degree: $34,000
    - Graduate students who work part-time: 44%
    - Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 16%

    For students interested in an advanced career in health sciences, medical preparatory programs, such as biomedical engineering, pre-med or pre-dentistry, prepare students for further study in the field. Medical school is frequently the next step for these graduates.

  • #97. General social sciences

    - Number of students with this major: 12,920
    - Median salary with a graduate degree: $32,000
    - Graduate students who work part-time: 31%
    - Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 17%

    Social sciences is the study of how society is organized, and how individuals manage their relations. Subfields include anthropology, sociology, linguistics, and psychology. While some argue that a STEM education prepares students for the 21st century economy better than social science fields, others value critical thinking in an increasingly automated world.

  • #96. Business economics

    - Number of students with this major: 13,302
    - Median salary with a graduate degree: $46,000
    - Graduate students who work part-time: 16%
    - Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 12%

    Economics is the study of how individuals and companies interact with global financing, as well as ways to monitor and regulate activity to create the most growth. Business economics prepares students for entrepreneurship, providing practical examples of how the economy interacts with companies.

  • #95. Misc. health, medical professions

    - Number of students with this major: 13,386
    - Median salary with a graduate degree: $36,000
    - Graduate students who work part-time: 36%
    - Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 14%

    Like multidisciplinary studies, this major is actually a collection of educational elements. According to Career Explorer, those with a degree in miscellaneous health and medical professions often find work as paramedics, exercise physiologists, health educators, and personal trainers.

  • #94. Pre-law & legal studies

    - Number of students with this major: 13,528
    - Median salary with a graduate degree: $36,000
    - Graduate students who work part-time: 31%
    - Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 14%

    Lawyers are involved in a vast range of fields, including estate planning, personal injury, family issues, intellectual property, immigration, taxes, and workers’ compensation. Many lawyers find work in other fields, using the critical reading and public speaking skills they learned in law school to their advantage.

  • #93. Neuroscience

    - Number of students with this major: 13,663
    - Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
    - Graduate students who work part-time: 28%
    - Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 10%

    The brain is a complex computer, and scientists will always have something new about this vital organ to study. Neuroscientists research topics like how the brain reacts to various types of stress, how it develops cancer, and even how it interacts with computers.

  • #92. Natural resources management

    - Number of students with this major: 13,773
    - Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
    - Graduate students who work part-time: 20%
    - Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 12%

    Sustainable energy and resource management studies are growing fields in academia. Those who study natural resources management learn to create environmental practices and policies that will protect non-renewable resources in the generations to come.

  • #91. Education, mathematics

    - Number of students with this major: 14,237
    - Median salary with a graduate degree: $34,000
    - Graduate students who work part-time: 17%
    - Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 6%

    A great math teacher can have an enormous impact on his or her students, able to explain complex concepts in simple ways, or making lessons come alive with demonstrations and interactive assignments. Those who enjoy math but don’t want to join the tech field can teach instead.

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