Most Desired Graduate Degrees for 2018

A decision to earn a graduate degree is a momentous one that can affect your earnings for the rest of your life. The Huffington Post published an article that correlates education to income, and its statistics may help influence your decision. You may know that college graduates have a higher earning potential than high school graduates, but there is also a disparity between people who have an advanced degree and those who do not.

Data from the Statistical Abstract of the United States shows a gap in mean earnings between bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates of about $1,700. A difference of nearly $30,000 occurs between the mean earnings of master’s and doctor’s degree holders. The relationship between educational achievement and salary level seems to show that your income increases with education level.

Some of the most desirable graduate degrees that may appeal to you offer opportunities for interesting employment as well as rewarding compensation. Factors that may influence your decision include the option to study online, how long it takes to earn a master’s degree, and the expense.

Master’s in Education

As someone who loves learning, you have access to many jobs in education with your master’s degree. Chron cites positions as a lead teacher, school administrator, adult educator, curriculum developer, and corporate trainer.

Within the field of higher education, you may find a job at a college or university that lets you do institutional research, work with student services, or with admissions. Many schools may let you teach at the master’s level or hold a title of dean or director. The degree gives you options to work in the classroom or in diverse environments that challenge you to meet the needs of the marketplace.

The mean annual wage for education administrators in elementary schools is $95,390. The median pay for training and development managers was $105,830 in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The average cost of an online master’s degree in education is about $18,000, but you can find some that charge less than half of that amount or even three times as much. If you can work on your degree on a full-time basis, you may complete it in a year to earn credits in up to 11 classes in addition to a final project. As a part-time student, you need at least 20 months or as much as five years.

Master’s in Psychology

An avenue to helping other people with skills in psychology leads to earning a master’s degree in psychology and the jobs that lie along the way.

If your interests, training, and expertise focus on providing essential services to others, Very Well Mind suggests that you may consider the challenges of working as a behavioral counselor, a health project coordinator, or a psychiatric technician. Jobs as a rehabilitation specialist, group home coordinator or family services worker give you an opportunity to use your training and skills. Serving as a child protection worker or a child care supervisor calls on your ability to communicate well with young people who need help.

BLS cites the median wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorders and mental health counselors at $42,150. The job outlook for your employment in the field includes a growth rate of 23 percent for the 10 years following 2016, and it is faster than the average for all occupations.

You may have to pay out-of-state tuition at some online colleges, but many offer the same rate for all students. The degree can help increase your earning power, but the cost of getting your master’s in psychology may range between $15,000 and $20,000 — or more. You can expect to spend a year and a half or two years full-time to complete your degree’s 12-18 courses.


Your access to employment in the corporate world may increase significantly with a master’s degree in business administration. Some of the challenging positions that your degree qualifies you to occupy let you exercise leadership in many fields.

You can direct your study so that it prepares you to work as an information systems manager or a health care administrator, depending on where your interests and areas of expertise take you. A degree may qualify you as an operations research analyst or as a manager of business operations. A position as a market researcher or as a management or financial analyst can give you opportunities to discover underlying causes of conditions, and your training enhances your ability to recommend and implement countermeasures that control them.

BLS cites the median pay for medical and health service managers as $96,540 annually. Many professionals hold the degree, making the competition tougher for candidates who do not have it. The mean annual wages for general and operations managers was $122,000 as of 2016.

The Online MBA Guide suggests that most programs require at least 18 months or as much as two years for full-time study. As a part-time student, you may not choose to take the three or four courses each semester as full-time students do, and your completion date depends on how much time you can devote to your degree. As you know from your undergraduate education, many factors can affect the price of a degree. You can find many programs that suit your financial preferences within a range of $25,000 to $50,000.

Master’s in Criminal Justice

A keen interest in law enforcement and the legal system, along with experience, may qualify you to work in some of the most challenging positions in the field. The Balance suggests criminology as an excellent choice for graduates in criminal justice who want to find ways to reduce crime.

As a forensic psychologist, you offer criminal profiling services, evaluate child custody situations, and provide expert testimony in court. A job as a criminal investigator challenges you to focus your training and experience on questioning victims of crime, witnesses and people who violate the law. Your background and training may qualify you to teach at some colleges or universities, and your advice can guide upper management in an administrative position.

Statistics from the BLS show that the median pay in 2016 was $79,750 for criminologists, sociologists who focus on researching criminal behavior. The mean annual wage for criminal investigators was $77, 860 during the same period.

Many online institutions offer a master’s in criminal justice, and the price of tuition ranges from $6,000 to $10,000. You may complete the degree within less than two years as a full-time student.

Master’s in Computer Science

After obtaining your master’s degree in computer science, you’ll have access to a lot of different job opportunities. Companies are always on the lookout for skilled software engineers. With smartphones now being so popular, the demand for mobile app developers is at an all-time high. A master’s degree in computer science will also give you an opportunity to enter the world of video game design. Some of the other potential careers include health care IT, data scientist, and university teaching.

Look forward to getting a significant pay raise. According to Northeastern University, computer science professionals earn an average of $114,000. By comparison, grads with a bachelor’s degree in computer science typical earn $65,540.

Obtaining a master’s degree in computer science takes a great deal of time and effort. However, the extra studying may prove to be well worth it. While full-time computer science students can obtain their master’s in two years, it may take part-time students up to five years.

If you’re looking to enroll in a master’s program for computer science, expect to pay around $40,000. However, keep in mind that some of the more prestigious programs can surpass $100,000. Fortunately, online Master of Computer Science programs are available. Some are as affordable as $6,304.

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