The most beneficial master’s degrees for your career and life

most beneficial master's degrees
Pursuing one of the most beneficial master's degrees can take your career to the next level. Source: AFP

The whole point of a master’s degree is to take your career and life to the next level — which is precisely what the most beneficial master’s degrees today can do.

Like everything else in life, you’ll have to play your part too. Work hard, do your best and you’ll see results.

A good master’s degree in hand opens up doors to better career opportunities. If the stats are to be trusted, you’re set to earn more than those with just a bachelor’s degree.

On average, the median annual income for master’s degree holders is about 18% higher than for those with a bachelor’s degree.

Someone with a bachelor’s degree typically earns a median weekly earnings of US$1,3025, while those with a master’s degree earn US$1,574.

But the most beneficial master’s degrees go beyond just money.

More money, more happiness? Source: AFP

The true ROI of the most beneficial master’s degrees today

A master’s degree lets you specialise. Having more in-depth knowledge can set you up to be an expert — which can further lead to a promotion and higher pay.

In fact, a report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that many high-paying and high-demand professions, such as healthcare, engineering, and business management, often require or strongly prefer candidates with master’s degrees.

A study by Georgetown University’s Centre on Education and the Workforce found that those with master’s degrees or higher were more likely to hold leadership positions and have job security.

They also reported higher levels of job satisfaction compared to those with only a bachelor’s degree.

So,  you’re not only increasing your earning potential but also positioning yourself for a career with greater responsibilities, expertise and autonomy.

What about happiness? The super successful, including CEOs and founders, are known to be anxious and depressed. Is the title and money worth your well-being?

The answer to this is a qualified yes. According to psychologists, we’re more happy when we have more money — but once we start making US$75,000 a year or more, we don’t increasingly get happier anymore.

It doesn’t decrease either, but just plateaus according to a study published in 2010 by Princeton University’s Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton.

Money, expertise and happiness — now picture the benefits above and multiply them several times more — that’s the impact of having one of the most beneficial master’s degrees today.

10 most beneficial master’s degrees for the future

most beneficial master's degrees

Michael Bloomberg is one of the many top CEOs that holds one of the most beneficial master’s degrees, an MBA. Source: AFP

1. Master in Business Administration (MBA)

An MBA is one of the most beneficial master’s degrees today. Why, you ask? Well, one of the many reasons is the high salary boost that you will receive — up to US$20,000 in increase and US$115,000 in annual median salary.

That’s more than double what those with a bachelor’s in business administration earned. Your location, seniority, company and industry may offer some variation to these figures.

An MBA in New York can command US$87,921, for example. But similar roles in North Carolina may just get you an annual salary of US$57,025.

But it’s not just about the money. An MBA equips you with a skill set that’s in high demand across industries.

For example, in Silicon Valley, tech giants like Google and Apple actively seek MBA talent to manage their operations efficiently.

Studies show that around 40% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies hold an MBA degree too. If you’re not into realising other people’s vision, an MBA can prepare you to finally launch that business idea you’ve had since your teens.

Benefits increase for MBA holders too. In addition to all of the above, you can demand better health insurance, life insurance, vision and dental plans, retirement plans and more with an MBA.

most beneficial master's degrees

Completing your master’s in nursing will equip you with advanced clinical education and training. Source: AFP

2. Master in Nursing 

As a senior qualified nurse, you never have to worry about job security. The demand for skilled nurses is soaring with an ageing population and increasing healthcare needs.

In fact, BLS predicts a 38% growth in nurse practitioner jobs by 2032, faster than the average for all occupations. 

Your earning potential with a master’s in nursing is also one of the many benefits. Nurse practitioners, for instance, often earn competitive salaries. On average, they make around US$121,911 annually in the US.

This financial stability not only improves your quality of life but also allows you to make a meaningful impact through your work. 

What makes this one of the most beneficial master’s degrees is its versatility. You can specialise in areas like paediatrics, gerontology or acute care, tailoring your career to your passion.

Whether you aim to provide primary care, work in research, or educate future nurses, a master’s in nursing equips you with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in a fulfilling and growing profession.

most beneficial master's degrees

Investment banking isn’t for everyone but there are many other senior finance roles you can apply for with a master’s degree in economics. Source: AFP

3. Master in Economics

This is one of the most beneficial master’s degrees because it is a path to financial stability.

According to studies, those with a master’s in economics tend to earn significantly more than those with just a bachelor’s degree. 

In this field, you will study financial markets and governments using a combination of theory, quantitative methods, and research. Compared to an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree in economics has more advanced mathematics.

Professionals may work as policy analysts, data scientists, consultants and professors. Economists help businesses determine how they will be financially impacted by things like inflation or changes in supply and demand so they can adjust their operations accordingly.

The study of economics can be applied to almost any industry, making an economics degree quite versatile on the job market.

As an economist, you can work in many sectors, from finance and government to academia and international organisations.

More businesses and organisations are trying to make informed decisions based on actual data and hiring statisticians to help them analyse the information correctly.

Economists play a crucial role in analysing data, making informed policy decisions, and helping businesses thrive. 

most beneficial master's degrees

A master’s in computer science is one of the most beneficial master’s degrees in the world. Source: AFP

4. Master in Computer Science

Little surprise here. As we live in an era where everything’s going digital, pursuing a master’s in computer science is one of the best decisions you can make to further your career today.

To start, the job prospects in this field are nothing short of impressive. Computer science professionals are in high demand and the job market keeps expanding. 

In fact, BLS predicts that employment in computer and information technology occupations will grow by 13% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. This means there’s set to be many new job opportunities.

The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was approximately US$100,530 in the US

Whether interested in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data science, or software engineering, this degree equips you with the skills to excel in various tech-related fields.

Take companies like Google, Amazon, or Microsoft, for example.

They actively seek computer science graduates for roles in developing cutting-edge software and designing innovative algorithms.

Whether you aspire to be a software architect, a data scientist, or a machine learning engineer, a master’s in computer science is your ticket to a dynamic and rewarding career in the digital age.

most beneficial master's degrees

Petroleum engineers locate, recover, and maintain the world’s oil and gas supplies. Source: AFP

5. Master in Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum engineers determine the most efficient and cost-effective ways to remove oil and gas from underground to meet society’s energy needs.

While the world is focused on reducing carbon emissions, the energy sector remains a cornerstone of global industry, and the demand for skilled petroleum engineers continues to grow.

According to BLS, employment of petroleum engineers is projected to increase by 2% from 2022 to 2032, which may not seem like a lot compared to other fields, but petroleum engineers earn an impressive median annual wage of over US$131,080 in the US.

The impact of petroleum engineers is substantial. These professionals are at the forefront of developing technologies and methods to efficiently extract and manage oil and gas resources.

As a petroleum engineer with a master’s degree, you’ll have the skills and knowledge to tackle complex challenges in the field and contribute to the future of energy production. 

most beneficial master's degrees

A master of education is one of the most beneficial master’s degrees that is expected to see rapid growth in the next decade. Source: AFP

6. Master of Education

While teaching is known to be a stressful job, there is no society where teachers are not the backbone of. 

With a Master of Education (MEd), you’ll be able to diversify how you make a difference as a teacher.

An MEd goes beyond how to teach effectively inside a classroom, focusing more on the policy and administrative level of education.

This can prepare you for a career as a principal, education administrator, instructional designer or corporate trainer.

In many school districts, having a master’s degree often leads to higher salaries and more career advancement opportunities.

In the US, teachers with a master’s degree typically earn about 15% more than those with just a bachelor’s degree

7. Master in Healthcare Administration 

Working in healthcare and want more leadership and executive duties? Consider a master’s in healthcare management.

The healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors globally, and the demand for skilled healthcare administrators is soaring.

According to BLS, employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow by a remarkable 28% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. 

And in the US, healthcare administrators earn a median annual wage of over US$87,392, making it a financially rewarding career path.

The best part? You can create greater impact.

Your work of managing healthcare facilities, overseeing budgets and ensuring efficient operations directly impacts patient care — but on a bigger scale.

Healthcare administrators are instrumental in implementing healthcare policies, improving the quality of care and managing healthcare resources effectively.

All of this affect entire organisations and communities, going beyond providing individual care.

most beneficial master's degrees

A physician assistant master’s programme teaches students to stay calm under pressure, multitask and communicate effectively. Source: AFP

8. Master in Physician Assistant Studies

Physician assistants are licensed healthcare professionals who examine patients, diagnose diseases, and prepare treatment plans under the supervision of a physician. If this interests you, you will first need to obtain your master’s degree as it is necessary in this field. 

A Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies is one of the most beneficial master’s degrees because there are many job openings for physician assistants.

As with other healthcare professions, employment in this field will grow rapidly within the next decade, driven by the rise of ageing societies. 

According to BLS, employment of physician assistants is projected to grow by 27% from 2020 to 2030.

PAs enjoy excellent job security and competitive salaries. In the US, the median annual wage for physician assistants was over US$126,010, making entering a financially rewarding field.

As a physician assistant, you may find employment in hospitals, outpatient care centres or physician’s offices. Your responsibilities include diagnosing illnesses and injuries and prescribing medicines under the supervision of a physician.

9. Master in Marketing 

In a master’s degree in marketing, you’ll study product innovation, branding, sales, and business planning — and what it takes to convey all of this to senior leadership.

While some may think marketing is child’s play and do not require academic work in the US as there are many influencer earning six-figure salaries without a degree, there are still many good reasons to get a master’s degree.

Chief among these is having experts around to navigate the complexities of online marketing, social media, and data analytics. You can try learning this on your own but it will take longer and involve lots of trial and error.

Marketing is a critical function in almost every industry, and companies are constantly seeking skilled professionals to help them reach and engage customers effectively.

In the US, for instance, BLS reports that employment in marketing-related occupations is projected to grow by almost 4.7 million from 2020 to 2030.

The median annual wage for marketing managers in the US was around US$76,955, indicating strong earning potential.

10. Master in Information Technology

The job prospects in the IT field are exceptionally promising. The demand for IT professionals continues to surge, with BLS projecting a 15% growth in IT-related jobs from 2020 to 2030.

This strong demand translates into a wealth of job opportunities across industries. For instance, in the US, the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was around US$100,530.

Whether you aim to work for a tech giant, a healthcare institution, or a financial corporation, a master’s in IT equips you with the expertise to excel in a wide range of career paths.

With cyber threats on the rise, consider tailoring your MS IT to provide you with the skills to protect sensitive data, detect vulnerabilities and design secure systems

Major companies, like Equifax and Target, have experienced massive data breaches, resulting in millions of dollars in losses and damaged reputations.

Having the skills to help companies prevent this will put you in high demand.

As of today, the job market for cybersecurity professionals is already expected to grow by a whopping 32% in the next decade, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

Cybersecurity professionals bring in an average annual salary of over US$93,450 in the US.