Students Flock to Master's Degrees in Emerging Fields

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  Students Flock to Master's Degrees in Emerging Fields Students Flock to Master's Degrees in Emerging Fields

New master's degree programs help students reach career goals.


The New York Times recently reported that twice as many students completed master's degree programs 2008 than in 1980. Why are these degree programs increasing in popularity so dramatically?

The economic recession is cited as a strong contributing factor for students’ growing interest in continuing their education after a bachelor's degree. For students, the specialized education afforded by a master's degree can be the key to getting a job, career advancement and obtaining a higher salary.

Focusing on master's degree programs also allows colleges and universities to benefit in this economy, as these programs bring in increased tuition money without some of the expenses often required in bachelor's degree programs, like student housing.

According to the Times, students are enrolling in master's degree programs in traditional fields, as well as in newer and more unconventional areas. The article highlights the breadth of options available for students, as well as the increased career opportunities students can find as they explore these degrees. The 10 degree programs profiled by the Times reflect current trends and new areas of study in various industries:

Narrative Medicine, Columbia University in the City of New York

Offered through the School of Continuing Education, this MS degree teaches students techniques for listening to and understanding their patients better, under the theory that the way patients describe their illnesses can reveal better ways to treat them. Course topics include philosophy, literary theory, autobiography and psychoanalytic theory.

Homeland Security, various colleges and universities, including Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach

This broad field provides education in a variety of disciplines related to domestic and international security to help fill the growing number of federal careers that require homeland security education. Courses in this master's degree can include domestic terrorism, international terrorism, the structure of the US intelligence system, homeland security laws and emergency management.

Cybersecurity/Infomatics/Computer Security/Information Security, various college and universities, including Georgia Institute of Technology, Main Campus, Carnegie Mellon University, Purdue University, Main Campus, George Mason University

Computer security is a growing concern for the government and businesses, so employees who know how to protect against computer viruses, worms and other attacks are in high need. Many schools are launching master's degree programs in this area to respond to this need.

Urban Studies/Affairs, various colleges and universities, including Tufts University

In recent years, master's degree programs with a focus on urban sustainability have been added to complement degree programs focusing on rural sustainability and environmental studies. Students in this field can concentrate in a number of areas, including public policy and engineering, to tackle issues in urban areas.

Cultural Sustainability, various colleges and universities, including Goucher College

Courses in this field can help prepare students to become teachers, community organizers, museum workers and anthropologists. The focus in many programs is on preserving communities’ customs and traditions, while others concentrate on a more narrow exploration of a culture, through the use of another discipline, like design or architecture.

Education Leadership, various colleges and universities, including Harvard University, Stanford University, Central Michigan University, Richmond

A governmental focus on education and school reform is driving interest in master’s programs that provide business and leadership skills in the field of education. Graduates of these programs can find careers in improving schools, founding nonprofit organizations and running charter schools.

Energy Systems Engineering/Alternative Energy Technology, various colleges and universities, including Purdue University, Wayne State University

Electric vehicles and hybrid cars require skilled engineers to build, maintain and optimize them. The Obama administration has put millions toward funding electric car and advanced battery education programs, and colleges and universities are responding by creating specialized master's degree programs to manufacture these vehicles. Playmobil Funpark

Construction Management, various colleges and universities, including New York University, University of Phoenix - Online School

With an increased federal focus on transportation, including building highways and railroads, construction management degrees are growing in popularity. A master's degree in this field can lead to a career in construction administration, which involves planning construction projects and estimating and managing costs.

Specialized MBA programs, various colleges and universities, including Boston College, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Business schools have responded to student demands for specialization by creating targeted programs that focus on practical applications. For students, this allows them to receive education directly related to their career goals in fields as diverse as energy management and wine management, and for colleges, it allows them to stand out against other universities’ MBA programs.

Intermedia/Multimedia, various colleges and universities, including Elon University, University of Southern California

Web 2.0 is finding its way to college campuses through master's degree programs devoted to exploring the business models and trends of social media. The degrees provide students with the skills to launch an interactive website and can help connect them to venture capitalists who may choose to fund the sites.

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