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Most popular grad school majors in America

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fizkes // Shutterstock

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

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Emielnijhuis // Wikimedia Commons

#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.

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gopixa // Shutterstock

#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.

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Africa Studio // Shutterstock

#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.

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EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP // Getty Images

#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.

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Matthew Henry // Burst

#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.

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Nicole De Khors // Burst

#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.

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Matthew Henry // Burst

#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.

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Govind Bhagavatheeshwaran/Daniel Reich/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke/National Institutes of Health // flickr

#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.

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NPS

#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.

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Antoine Dautry // Burst

#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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John Lambeth // Pexels

#90. Agriculture production & management

- Number of students with this major: 14,240
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $40,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 16%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 11%

Agriculture is a wide field of study that includes education on droughts, epidemics, and new technology like genetic engineering. An advanced degree in agriculture production and management can prepare students for work anywhere in the world helping communities adapt to the effects of climate change on food production and biodiversity.

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Cherries // Shutterstock

#89. Teacher education: multiple levels

- Number of students with this major: 14,443
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $30,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 16%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 6%

This course of study prepares students to teach multiple grade levels in a combined program. Common specializations are elementary and secondary, early childhood and elementary, and middle and high school.

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UC Davis College of Engineering // Wikimedia Commons

#88. Biomedical engineering

- Number of students with this major: 14,955
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $60,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 23%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 8%

Biomedical engineering is a lucrative field that involves designing medical instruments, technology, and processes. Students may specialize in refining prosthetic limbs or developing specialized surgical technology with fewer side effects.

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Gorodenkoff // Shutterstock

#87. Aerospace engineering

- Number of students with this major: 15,058
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $60,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 20%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 3%

Rockets aren’t just for NASA anymore; companies like Virgin Galactic and SpaceX plan to take aerospace engineering concepts to the next level, offering rides to space, galactic cellular networks, and a new era of satellite infrastructure. Meanwhile, NASA is going back to the moon.

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Aral Tasher // Unsplash

#86. Transportation sciences & technologies

- Number of students with this major: 15,150
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 18%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 5%

The possibilities for transportation, especially in America’s cities, have been growing steadily over the past few decades. A graduate degree in transportation sciences and technologies is well-suited for students interested in city planning and technological developments like self-driving cars.

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Pixabay

#85. Microbiology

- Number of students with this major: 15,232
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $38,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 31%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 13%

The basic unit of organic life we know as the cell was discovered in 1665, meaning humans lived for thousands of years without ever knowing what they were made of. Microbiology is the study of all living things too small to see with the naked eye, like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes that shape the world’s ecosystem.

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Pixabay

#84. Medical technologies

- Number of students with this major: 15,914
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $45,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 19%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 8%

Like biomedical engineering, an advanced degree in medical technologies another way to contribute to the healthcare industry. Medical technologies students prepare for careers in testing and research, contributing to the studies that shape how doctors respond to diseases like cancer and diabetes.

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University of San Francisco's Department of Performing Arts // flickr

#83. Visual & performing arts

- Number of students with this major: 16,250
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $30,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 43%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 22%

Students specializing in acting, music production, painting, photography, or other art might consider an advanced degree to become a professional. While earning a graduate degree, students can make connections within their industries that can help them succeed as artists.

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Undrey // Shutterstock

#82. Linguistics & comparative language & literature

- Number of students with this major: 16,601
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $33,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 36%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 19%

In the 2016 Hollywood blockbuster “Arrival,” the hero is a linguist who develops a way to communicate with an alien species. While the scenario may be unlikely, the study of linguistics, comparative language, and literature dives deep into how language has shaped all kinds of world civilizations over thousands of years.

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Svetlana Pochatun // Unsplash

#81. Studio arts

- Number of students with this major: 16,977
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $29,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 35%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 26%

A graduate degree in studio arts offers specialization in painting, sculpting, and drawing. Through their schools, graduates can make connections with influential galleries or museum curators that can help them launch their careers.

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Jacob Lund // Shutterstock

#80. Secondary teacher education

- Number of students with this major: 17,125
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $33,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 23%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 9%

Secondary school generally refers to middle and high school education, from the sixth to 12th grade. Teachers who instruct secondary school help teenagers gain the skills and knowledge they’ll need for continuing education or to enter the workforce.

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val lawless // Shutterstock

#79. Misc. business & medical administration

- Number of students with this major: 17,947
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $40,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 20%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 12%

The medical system is a complex machine, involving many professionals other than doctors and nurses. Insurance agents, hospital administrators, health-care secretaries, and other specializations make up this enormous industry, and an advanced degree in medical administration prepares students for management roles in this ever-changing sector.

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GaudiLab // Shutterstock

#78. Communications technologies

- Number of students with this major: 18,035
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 28%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 17%

The next new development in communications technology is always just around the corner, so this field will continue to be popular among American graduate students. 5G networks will soon bring lightning-fast internet speeds to mobile consumers, and students with advanced degrees in communications technologies will be the best-prepared to bring those innovations to market.

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Evgeniy Kalinovskiy // Shutterstock

#77. Health & medical administrative services

- Number of students with this major: 18,109
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 20%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 9%

Health-care spending may account for more than a quarter of America’s total GDP by 2026, and several Democratic presidential candidates have pledged to overhaul the country’s health system. Students interested in contributing to the future of the industry can study to become the medical administrative specialists who run hospitals.

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Pixabay

#76. Molecular biology

- Number of students with this major: 18,300
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $40,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 33%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 10%

Molecular biology is the study of how organic cells function. CRISPR, a breakthrough medical technology, uses bacteria to change DNA, just one small aspect of this essential field of science.

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gaudiLab // Shutterstock

#75. Geography

- Number of students with this major: 18,480
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $38,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 33%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 14%

Cartography, a subfield of geography, isn’t necessarily a scientific field that gets a lot of press. Google Maps has inflamed several international crises thanks to errors that advanced geographers could have prevented. As climate change continues to affect these interactions, geographers will prove essential in gathering information on maps, terrain, and other location-specific data.

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Pexels

#74. Construction services

- Number of students with this major: 18,498
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $50,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 10%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 4%

Over 1 million new housing units were built over the last three years. Data shows that a low number of graduates work part-time and have low-paying jobs, which suggests that construction has led to higher levels of employment for project managers, like those with advanced degrees in construction services.

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Caspar Camille Rubin // Unsplash

#73. Management information systems & statistics

- Number of students with this major: 18,713
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $51,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 14%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 4%

Management information systems involves using information technology to advance the interests of a business. Specialists often find work educating personnel on best practices for incorporating information technology into their processes. This can be a high-paying field for those with advanced degrees.

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Airman 1st Class Alexandra Singer // USAF

#72. Nutrition sciences

- Number of students with this major: 18,909
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 41%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 19%

The wellness industry has grown to a $4.2 trillion dollar industry worldwide, increasing nearly 13% in the past two years alone. Students who earn graduate degrees in nutrition sciences are well-prepared to design products and methods that assist those looking to change their lifestyle for the better.

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Chinnapong // Shutterstock

#71. Composition & rhetoric

- Number of students with this major: 18,953
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $27,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 40%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 23%

Composition and rhetoric is the advanced study of English and literature. An advanced degree in composition and rhetoric prepares students for careers as writing educators, specialized tutors, and authors.

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Gorodenkoff // Shutterstock

#70. Industrial & manufacturing engineering

- Number of students with this major: 18,968
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $57,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 13%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 4%

Improving efficiency is essential for manufacturing businesses around the world. Graduates with degrees in industrial and manufacturing engineering may help companies test new materials or methods for production, or train a workforce to be more informed.

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g-stockstudio // Shutterstock

#69. Community & public health

- Number of students with this major: 19,735
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $34,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 39%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 13%

Understanding how a community’s structure affects its citizens’ health is vital to improving human wellbeing around the world. Graduates with degrees in community and public health work to fortify healthcare infrastructure in developing nations.

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Senator Chris Coons // flickr

#68. Criminology

- Number of students with this major: 19,879
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 25%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 12%

Students of criminology seek to better understand why people break the law and the best ways to prevent crime. Criminologists are among the best-prepared for blazing the trail to criminal justice reform.

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Elijah Hail // Unsplash

#67. Education, social science or history

- Number of students with this major: 20,198
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $34,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 27%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 10%

A good history teacher can make the past come alive and explain to students how the events of the past inform the actions of the world today. With a wide range of specialties from ancient civilizations to modern governments, history teachers are responsible for shaping young people’s concepts of the passage of time.

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Mark Agnor // Shutterstock

#66. Art history & criticism

- Number of students with this major: 21,030
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $31,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 32%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 19%

Museums, agents, critics, and academics all have vital roles in the art world. Art history graduates can work for museums or agencies, or take up academic positions researching modern and historical trends.

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mahdis mousavi // Unsplash

#65. Animal sciences

- Number of students with this major: 21,573
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $30,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 27%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 12%

Animal science majors specialize in subfields like breeding and genetics, livestock behavior and welfare, and animal nutrition. These advanced degrees are popular in the American Midwest, home to a large percentage of the country’s farmland

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Steve Thurow // U.S. Air Force

#64. Physiology

- Number of students with this major: 22,060
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 38%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 15%

Understanding how the body works is essential to understanding how diseases function. Graduate degrees in physiology prepare scientists-to-be for a diverse range of careers in research, academia, and regulatory agencies.

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Oregon State University // flickr

#63. Pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences & administration

- Number of students with this major: 23,551
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $40,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 30%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 7%

America represents about 45% of the global pharmaceutical industry, producing an enormous number of drugs for clinical trials and consumer use. Graduates often become pharmacists, and those in pharmaceutical sciences research diseases and work to develop new drugs

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OIST // Wikimedia Commons

#62. Human resources & personnel management

- Number of students with this major: 24,497
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $36,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 17%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 9%

Large companies in America usually have a human resources department, which fosters productive, inclusive workplaces and resolves disputes. A graduate degree in human resources prepares students for work in this field, focusing strongly on organization and conflict resolution.

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Glacierfanclub // Wikimedia Commons

#61. Intercultural & international studies

- Number of students with this major: 24,650
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $34,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 36%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 17%

Graduate degrees in intercultural and international studies prepare students for diplomatic work as well as jobs in government, non-governmental organizations, international think tanks, and as defense contractors.

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Pexels

#60. International business

- Number of students with this major: 25,894
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $40,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 22%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 15%

Graduates with degrees in international business are skilled at negotiating complex partnerships across national borders. America’s economy is heavily reliant on trading goods, and an understanding of the international economy is vital to running countless global industries.

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Africa Studio // Shutterstock

#59. Environmental science

- Number of students with this major: 25,965
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $36,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 29%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 15%

Students are increasingly drawn to environmental science to study climate change. Graduates specialize in resource preservation and conservation, develop the technology to help mitigate the effects of extreme weather, and advise governmental and nongovernmental organizations on sustainability.

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TZIDO SUN // Shutterstock

#58. International relations

- Number of students with this major: 28,187
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $40,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 23%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 12%

International relations is the study of how governments around the world have worked historically and continue to work today. Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as Secretary of State, is a graduate of Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, the #1 international relations program in the country.

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oliveromg // Shutterstock

#57. Education, physical & health

- Number of students with this major: 28,213
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $31,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 27%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 9%

Physical and health educators help to instill healthy, active life habits in young students through lessons and exercise. This is more vital to their education than they may even realize, as it’s been suggested that a healthy body is a link to successful learning.

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Natalia Lebedinskaia // Shutterstock

#56. Special needs education

- Number of students with this major: 28,739
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 19%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 5%

Students with special needs require specialized attention from educators. Special education teachers adapt methods designed for neurotypical students to better serve these young people. Those with advanced degrees in special education work as teachers or aides in classrooms of all ages.

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Shalone Cason // Unsplash

#55. Theology & religious vocations

- Number of students with this major: 30,207
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $29,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 33%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 14%

Universities across the country have advanced programs for students who wish to become leaders in their faith. Graduates often become congregation leaders, helping their community become more involved in religious life.

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The Skyline View // Flickr

#54. Language & drama education

- Number of students with this major: 30,471
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $33,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 25%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 11%

A good understanding of the English language is essential for a wide range of careers. English and drama teachers help students learn to appreciate the written word, from spelling and grammar to literature and plays.

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Chokniti Khongchum // Shutterstock

#53. Area ethnic & civilization studies

- Number of students with this major: 31,195
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 34%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 15%

Understanding societal and cultural organization can help broaden one’s scope of knowledge. Georgetown University describes its regional and ethnic studies program as a way for students to “...develop the insight, knowledge and skills needed to interpret the political, economic, social and cultural actions and policies in specific regions.”

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Fotiev // Shutterstock

#52. Physics

- Number of students with this major: 32,142
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $45,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 31%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 7%

Physics is the study of the laws that govern the known universe: gravity, electromagnetism, the weak force, and the strong force. From studying the smallest forms of matter to the supermassive black holes that have captivated their attention for decades, physicists spend their careers answering one humongous question: why do things happen the way they do?

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NTNU/Faculty of Natural Sciences // flickr

#51. Chemical engineering

- Number of students with this major: 32,260
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $65,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 18%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 4%

Chemical engineering, like biomedical engineering, involves designing technology to meet the constantly evolving challenges of the modern world. Graduates with advanced degrees in chemical engineering often work as researchers in fields from nanotechnology to sustainable energy development and medicine.

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Ness Kerton/AusAID // flickr

#50. General medical & health services

- Number of students with this major: 33,599
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $32,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 38%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 16%

Graduates of general medical and health services programs are often professionals already working in the medical field seeking management roles or other higher positions. Graduates can also work in healthcare consulting firms or in the federal government’s many healthcare divisions.

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speedKingz // Shutterstock

#49. Art & music education

- Number of students with this major: 34,181
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $32,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 29%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 9%

Exposing children to the arts early in their lives can have many benefits; in fact, the Brookings Institution found that an increase in arts education has “remarkable impacts on students’ academic, social, and emotional outcomes.” Students looking to play a vital role in that process are well-suited towards arts and music education degrees.

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Luke Jones // Flickr

#48. Computer & information systems

- Number of students with this major: 36,698
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $45,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 14%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 6%

The information sector in America is growing quickly, leading to a demand for skilled laborers who understand complex information networks. Graduates in this field have fewer part-time and low-paying jobs, and a higher starting salary.

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Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

#47. Early childhood education

- Number of students with this major: 37,589
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $28,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 20%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 9%

Early childhood spans from birth to age eight. This is a vital time for a child’s development, and pre-school and elementary school teachers are consistently in demand to keep up with the never-ending energy and limitless potential of the country’s youngest students.

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Angela Pope // U.S. Air Force

#46. Communications disorders sciences & services

- Number of students with this major: 38,279
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $28,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 41%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 17%

Graduates with an advanced degree in communications disorders sciences study the neurological and physical causes of speech differences. Graduates often become speech pathologists, who assist patients with conditions like stutters.

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Jakob Owens // Unsplash

#45. Film, video & photographic arts

- Number of students with this major: 38,761
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $32,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 36%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 19%

YouTube gets over 500 hours of new video every single minute, so it’s no wonder that interest in film and video is increasing. Students pursuing advanced degrees in this field study film history, technology, and the basic principles of film development and production.

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Tech. Sgt. Tracy L. DeMarco // U.S. Air Force

#44. Anthropology & archeology

- Number of students with this major: 38,844
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $28,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 42%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 23%

Anthropology is the study of humans based on social interactions, and archaeology is the study of the material remains ancient humans leave behind. Both fields involve tackling big questions about humans as a species as well as a society, and graduates with advanced degrees favor work as academic researchers.

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Drew Hays // Unsplash

#43. Biochemical sciences

- Number of students with this major: 39,107
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $37,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 33%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 12%

The crossroads of biology and chemistry, biochemical science programs prepare students for work in the pharmaceutical industry, developing new drugs. Graduates may also work in the environmental, petrochemical, food, and biotechnological industries.

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Clint Bustrillos // Unsplash

#42. Computer engineering

- Number of students with this major: 41,542
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $60,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 15%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 3%

The best-performing stock of 2019 so far is AMD, a manufacturer of computer chips and graphics processors, because of the demand for the high-powered server systems that allow the internet to run smoothly. Graduate programs in computer engineering teach students both electrical engineering and computer science and prepare them to work as engineers and developers in the tech industry.

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Nic McPhee // flickr

#41. Drama & theater arts

- Number of students with this major: 43,249
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $27,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 39%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 31%

Theater arts programs teach students how to act, but also include theater history, production design, directing, and all the technical considerations that make theater a possibility. Many graduate students present their own shows in lieu of a traditional master’s thesis.

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Kzenon // Shutterstock

#40. Hospitality management

- Number of students with this major: 43,647
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $33,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 19%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 25%

The travel and tourism industry is one of the biggest in America, but the running of hotels and lodges is often an afterthought. There are plenty of schools offering hospitality management degrees that instruct students on the business of hotels, resorts, and lodges. Students can take on specializations like real estate and marketing management.

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Daniel McCullough // Unsplash

#39. Architecture

- Number of students with this major: 46,420
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $40,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 26%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 12%

Architects take into account a myriad of factors when designing buildings, whether it’s insulation for heating and cooling, safe emergency exits, structural considerations like utility pipes and wires, and environmental impact.

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fizkes // Shutterstock

#38. French, German, Latin & other languages

- Number of students with this major: 48,246
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $34,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 33%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 14%

The romance languages make for popular majors at the undergraduate level, exposing students to the language, literature, and culture of other countries. At the graduate level, language students gain even more knowledge of another country’s history and language, preparing them for specialized academic research or work in the public or private sector.

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Toralf Thomassen // Unsplash

#37. Treatment therapy professions

- Number of students with this major: 48,491
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $33,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 29%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 12%

An advanced degree in treatment therapy often leads graduates to jobs as physical therapists, occupational therapists, and exercise physiologists. Each of these professions involves helping patients overcome physical challenges, making it emotionally rewarding work.

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Haxorjoe // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Mass media

- Number of students with this major: 52,824
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $33,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 27%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 14%

Understanding the media’s impact on society has never been more important. Graduate students studying mass media gain a comprehensive understanding of the history of mass media systems and help shape its future.

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#35. Civil engineering

- Number of students with this major: 53,153
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $50,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 21%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 7%

In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded America’s infrastructure across 16 categories, including aviation, public parks, roads, schools, and hazardous waste. The result was an overall D+. Students who pursue graduate studies in civil engineering can help fix these issues while also earning a lucrative salary.

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wellphoto // Shutterstock

#34. Advertising & public relations

- Number of students with this major: 53,162
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 22%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 16%

Students considering graduate programs in advertising and public relations study mass media history, communications, broadcasting, and other aspects of this wide-ranging industry. Some become advertising professionals, and others gravitate towards public relations firms, talent agencies, or marketing.

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Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

#33. Social work

- Number of students with this major: 53,552
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $30,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 28%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 10%

Social workers are the government’s boots on the ground for assisting underprivileged communities. Graduates with an advanced degree in social work are often hired as therapists or case workers, assisting individuals and families with complex problems in their day-to-day lives.

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#32. Philosophy & religious studies

- Number of students with this major: 54,814
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $32,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 35%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 20%

Philosophy is the world’s oldest science, and it’s still going strong after thousands of years. While many students who graduate with advanced degrees in philosophy and religious studies go into academic research, others become teachers, work in medical ethics, or write books.

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#31. Family & consumer sciences

- Number of students with this major: 58,001
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $30,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 30%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 11%

According to the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, this field of study is focused on “the science and the art of living and working well in our complex world.” Graduates with advanced degrees work in education, interior design, communications, consumer electronics, and apparel design.

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Matthew Henry // Burst

#30. Music

- Number of students with this major: 60,633
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $31,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 46%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 19%

Those with high specialization in an instrument or music production may consider a graduate degree in this field. Passion is essential; the relatively low median salary and a high rate of graduates working part-time suggest this degree may prove financially unreliable.

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Ethan Miller // Getty Images

#29. General engineering

- Number of students with this major: 61,152
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $56,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 15%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 7%

Engineers hone their skills at solving real-world problems hands-on, working with a team, and developing an intricate, specialized technical knowledge. Engineering is a lucrative field, with a high median salary and a low percentage of underemployed graduates.

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#28. Multi-disciplinary or general science

- Number of students with this major: 62,052
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 26%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 12%

Scientists seek to understand the processes that make up the material and non-material world, from the microscopic roots of life to the expansion and contraction of the universe. Graduates with an advanced degree in scientific fields can work as academic researchers, in laboratories, or teaching high-level courses.

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Shopify Partners // Burst

#27. Chemistry

- Number of students with this major: 66,530
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $39,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 28%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 9%

Advanced degrees in chemistry can give students a more detailed and nuanced understanding of many of its subfields, from chemical engineering to organic or even theoretical chemistry. Students who desire an even deeper understanding of this science after finishing their undergraduate degrees may pursue these programs.

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#26. Liberal arts

- Number of students with this major: 71,369
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $32,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 31%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 16%

An advanced degree in liberal arts generally comprises instruction in a variety of interdisciplinary subjects, from literature and language to mathematics and natural sciences. Graduates are prepared for work in a huge range of fields and enjoy a more flexible curriculum.

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#25. Mathematics

- Number of students with this major: 72,397
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $45,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 28%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 8%

Advanced mathematical techniques are required for facets of everyday life many people don’t think about. For example, the strong cryptography that protects your most sensitive information relies on the fact that it’s much easier to multiply two primes than it is to factor that result into its original components. If your eyes just glazed over, an advanced degree in mathematics probably isn’t for you.

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Tim Mossholder // Unsplash

#24. Journalism

- Number of students with this major: 72,619
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 24%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 14%

Journalists work to uncover cracks in the governmental and societal systems we rely on, and broadcast the voices of those who aren’t being heard. Graduates with advanced degrees in print, online, and broadcast media study a variety of topics, including ethics, investigative reporting, and mass media.

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goodluz // Shutterstock

#23. Fine arts

- Number of students with this major: 74,440
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $31,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 36%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 20%

An advanced degree in fine arts allows students to specialize in their craft. Some of the best schools in the country for these degrees are arts academies, like the Rhode Island School of Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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#22. Electrical engineering

- Number of students with this major: 81,527
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $60,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 19%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 5%

Graduates with advanced degrees in electrical engineering often work in the technology field, designing products that are increasingly more energy-efficient, compact, sturdy, and capable.

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Max Pixel

#21. Mechanical engineering

- Number of students with this major: 91,227
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $60,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 16%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 4%

Petroleum engineers, a subset of the larger mechanical engineering field, are among the best-paid workers in the country. Mechanical engineers with advanced degrees are an integral part of the product and industrial design process, helping to shape how the items we use every day are made and used.

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#20. Commercial art & graphic design

- Number of students with this major: 103,480
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 27%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 18%

Every company in America needs a logo, and good logos are scarce: It has to be visually pleasing and easy to interpret while also standing out from the crowd. This work is most often done by graphic designers, and advanced degrees can help graduates make the connections they need to find work at top firms.

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YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV // Shutterstock

#19. Sociology

- Number of students with this major: 115,433
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $33,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 29%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 15%

Sociologists study how humans interact, and can be found in a range of professional fields from academic researcher and policy-maker to the nonprofit sector. Graduates with advanced degrees in sociology possess the skill set vital to jobs that involve detail-oriented research and observation.

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#18. Physical fitness, parks, recreation & leisure

- Number of students with this major: 125,074
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $32,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 33%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 16%

Regular exercise is a key component of any healthy lifestyle, and there are many ways to make exercising fun. Graduates with advanced degrees in fitness, parks, recreation, and leisure studies seek to make exercise, fitness, and helpful programs accessible to under-served communities.

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#17. Computer science

- Number of students with this major: 128,319
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $53,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 17%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 5%

Computer science is one of the most popular STEM fields for students today, given the non-stop advancements in technological fields across the board. Graduates with advanced degrees in computer science specialize in fields like cybersecurity, data science, and machine learning, among countless others.

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#16. Economics

- Number of students with this major: 139,247
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $47,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 21%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 10%

Economics is a wide field that allows for plenty of specialization at the graduate level. Students can study microeconomics—how individual people and firms respond to changes in economic situations—or macroeconomics, how governments should tailor economic policy to encourage maximum growth. Subfields include behavioral economics and financial economics.

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#15. History

- Number of students with this major: 141,951
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $34,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 32%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 16%

A quote by philosopher George Santayana is a favorite guiding ethos of many historians: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Graduates with advanced degrees in history gain vital skills in research and communication and can convey its larger importance to fellow academics and average folks alike.

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Shopify Partners // Burst

#14. General education

- Number of students with this major: 143,718
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $34,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 23%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 10%

Hundreds of thousands of students pursue Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in education each year, gearing up to shape the next generation’s educational journey. Advanced degrees allow graduates to teach more advanced classes and gain a deeper understanding of the best teaching practices.

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Senior Airman David Owsianka // DOD

#13. Criminal justice & fire protection

- Number of students with this major: 152,824
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 23%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 15%

Criminal justice and fire protections are two major subfields of public health, and graduate programs prepare students to help provide citizens with the safest and most secure communities. Career paths include correctional officer, forensic psychologist, and emergency management director.

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#12. Elementary education

- Number of students with this major: 170,862
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $32,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 24%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 8%

During elementary school, students learn the basics and form the study habits that will follow them through high school. They’re introduced to science, reading, mathematics, physical activity, music, art, and extracurricular activities. Elementary school teachers, who commonly spend the whole day with their students, form intimate bonds with them, and create lifelong impressions.

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#11. Finance

- Number of students with this major: 174,506
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $47,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 13%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 7%

With a high median salary and low underemployment, finance is a popular field for those looking to get ahead in the economy. Graduate students in finance often study corporate organization, or advanced methods for investing to maximize profits.

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#10. Political science & government

- Number of students with this major: 182,621
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $38,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 27%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 15%

Believe it or not, the United States Congress came in last for professions with honesty and ethics: 58% of Americans say this branch of government has “low” or “very low” ethical standards. That may be one reason thousands of American students are pursuing advanced studies in political science and government each year, seeking to better understand and improve each facet of the system.

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#9. English language & literature

- Number of students with this major: 194,673
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $32,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 34%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 18%

The English language has a rich literary history, from Renaissance-era playwrights to influential modern writers. By understanding literary history, students pursuing advanced degrees can analyze modern works with a deeper base of knowledge and become teachers, professors, or even writers themselves.

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#8. Accounting

- Number of students with this major: 198,633
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $45,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 15%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 7%

Accounting isn’t nearly as dull as it’s portrayed to be. Advancements in data processing have led to groundbreaking advances in the field, and students pursuing advanced degrees are prepared for the modern workforce with similarly modern tools and information vital to any business’ sustained financial success.

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#7. Marketing & marketing research

- Number of students with this major: 205,211
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $38,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 19%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 16%

For companies that sell products, nothing is more important than understanding the target market: their desires, and how they can be reached. Advanced studies in marketing and market research include best practices in differentiating a company’s products, and establishing a valuable name brand, among other tenets.

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shopify Partners // Burst

#6. Nursing

- Number of students with this major: 209,394
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $48,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 21%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 3%

In 2018, Gallup found that nurses polled the highest for honesty and ethics out of every other profession — for the eighteenth year running. Nurses are the glue of the healthcare industry, interacting daily with patients and doctors alike. It’s clear that Americans respect the profession, with hundreds of thousands of students pursuing advanced degrees in nursing every year.

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#5. Communications

- Number of students with this major: 213,996
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $35,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 25%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 15%

Understanding how governments, corporations, hospitals, advertisers, and any number of other agents communicate to their audience is essential to success in a media-driven world. Students pursuing advanced degrees in communications often work in advertising, marketing consultation, public relations, and journalism.

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#4. General business

- Number of students with this major: 234,590
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $40,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 17%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 14%

Business degrees allow for a variety of specialization. Students can be entrepreneurs and launch their own businesses, or go deep into best practices for human resources, international relations, or marketing. Advanced degrees in business impart an understanding of how the modern economy works from every angle, as well as the challenges facing businesses of all sizes.

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#3. Biology

- Number of students with this major: 280,709
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $33,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 33%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 16%

Biology is one of the major fields of scientific inquiry, encompassing all living things and how they function. With such a wide range of topics and specializations, it’s no wonder that hundreds of thousands of students find themselves attracted to this study. Biology will continue to be an essential field for understanding and preserving the diversity of life on the planet.

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#2. Business management & administration

- Number of students with this major: 329,927
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $38,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 17%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 12%

Business management is the graduate field of choice for hundreds of thousands of students enticed by entrepreneurship. From Apple’s origins in a California garage to Facebook’s inception in a Harvard dorm room, the 21st century has been shaped by enterprising stars, and any of America’s graduate students could be next.

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#1. Psychology

- Number of students with this major: 393,735
- Median salary with a graduate degree: $32,000
- Graduate students who work part-time: 33%
- Graduate students with low-paying jobs: 16%

Psychology is the most popular major in the United States. It’s no wonder: the human brain is as mysterious as it is powerful, and the hundreds of thousands of students pursuing advanced degrees in psychology are ever-curious about its inner workings. Potential career paths include counseling, human resources, social work, and education.

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