Time Well Spent – The Best Master’s Degrees to Pursue Right Now

Graduate school is expensive and time consuming—so what if you spend all that time and money and still don’t land a job after graduation? By choosing a master’s degree that parallels with high-demand jobs, your time in graduate school won’t be wasted.

A college degree once assured a bright future and high paying job. Unfortunately, the struggling economy and crippling reality of student debt has left many graduates working outside their field of study and struggling to make ends meet. While furthering your education can still be beneficial, it is wise to pursue a master’s degree in a field where it makes financial sense. Here are some of the best master’s degrees of 2014, according to Forbes:


1. Physician’s Assistant Studies

Physician’s assistants examine, diagnose and treat patients under the supervision of doctors and surgeons. Their average median income is $97,500 a year for those at the midpoint of their career, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects demand for them to increase 38 percent between 2012 and 2022. This is significantly faster than the average expected growth rate of 11 percent. While you’ll have to get a lot of experience and do a fair share of studying, this major will definitely be time well spent.


2. Physical Therapy

Physical therapists work with people who are ill or injured, devising a treatment plan to help them restore mobility while decreasing pain. Both the expected increase in demand and median pay rate for physical therapists follow closely behind physician’s assistants at 36 percent and $81,200, respectively. As the baby boomer age enters their elderly years, there will be a great need for trained professionals in areas like this. By the time you finish school, there will be plenty of jobs waiting for you.


3. Mathematics

A master’s degree in mathematics opens many doors, preparing you for a career in education, science, finance and many other fields. Math masters enjoy a median income of $97,000 a year while demand for jobs associated with this degree is expected to increase 26 percent in the next few years. Not everyone loves math, but if you have a knack for it or a talent for teaching others, you might as well take advantage of this interest and make good money after graduation.


4. Civil Engineering

Civil engineers oversee large construction projects involving dams, bridges, water supply systems and other important infrastructure. Some work as project supervisors, researchers and planners while others get closer to the action, testing building materials or inspecting job sites. According to the professionals at Ohio University who offer a civil engineering masters program, civil engineers earn a median salary of $102,000 a year and 20 percent more will be needed between now and 2022. If you are more interested in mechanical, chemical, or electrical engineering, all of these fields offer jobs that are in high demand right now, so you can’t go wrong with an engineering degree.


5. International Relations

The increase in conflicts around the globe (and the need to diplomatically solve these crises) is expected to fuel a 21 percent increase in demand for those with this degree. A degree in international relations readies you for careers in international business as well as a job at the United Nations or various government agencies. The average median income for those with this degree is $97,500 as of 2014. If you are interested in government, traveling, or if you are bi-lingual, this might be the perfect career path for you.


Wondering which master’s degrees to avoid? Forbes rated journalism, music, library and information sciences, biology and chemical engineering as the worst five master’s degrees of 2014. While we are encouraged to live out our dreams and pursue our interests, the economy doesn’t always allow us that luxury. Sometimes it is better to spend your time and money working in a way that will guarantee a good job after graduation. Either way, getting more education will never have negative consequences.

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