Best Master’s Degrees for the Future: Planning Ahead

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Master’s degrees can provide professionals with a competitive edge over their peers. However, the reasons to invest in a master’s go beyond landing that senior-level role or getting a nice boost in pay. A graduate education enriches a professional’s career by providing the knowledge and skills to fully embrace the challenges inherent in unique, rewarding job opportunities. It also can prepare individuals to be a trusted, authoritative voice in their respective industries.

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Master’s degrees are available in a wide variety of concentrations. Admissions requirements vary, but typically include an undergraduate degree and relevant experience. This article highlights some of the best master’s degrees for the future for business professionals, registered nurses, and those with a science or mathematics background.

Explore whether one of these master’s degrees is right for your future.

Best Graduate Degrees for the Future

A graduate degree does more than prepare you for a career: it can turn you into a game changer whose knowledge and skills can change the direction of a business and even make an impact on an industry.

When looking at the best master’s degree for the future with this kind of influence in mind, the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) stand out. The reasons they are at the forefront of higher education are as different as the degrees themselves.

Master of Business Administration

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is respected in the business community as a degree for goal-oriented professionals. The MBA can help professionals pursue career advancement and increased compensation, transition to a new career in a different field, and improve performance in their current positions. These opportunities may become available to MBA graduates because of the advanced business knowledge and leadership skills they gain during their course of study.

MBA coursework helps students hone critical skills across core business areas:

  • Marketing
  • Human resources
  • Business ethics
  • Business law
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics
  • Business policies

Demand for graduates of MBA programs is strong, with the BLS predicting that the need for business professionals and operational managers will grow 5% between 2019 and 2029.

In addition to developing a well-rounded foundation of business knowledge, MBA students also refine their professional set of soft skills, including leadership, communication, organizational, and critical-thinking skills. In turn, earning an MBA can result in a broad range of career opportunities.

Master of Science in Nursing

According to the World Health Organization’s State of the World’s Nursing 2020 Report, roughly 4.7 million nurses around the globe are expected to retire by 2030. The departure of so many professionals will create a significant shortage of qualified nurses and a loss of expertise in the nursing field. Adding to this concern is a dramatic rise projected in the demand for healthcare due to the needs of the aging baby boom generation, which is projected to comprise one-fifth of the U.S. population by 2030.

This forecast for the nursing field — and the overall healthcare system — presents an opportunity for RNs to attain higher-level positions. Those who do make this leap will meet a robust job market. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 45% job growth for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) between 2019 and 2029. If you are an RN who is eager to advance your career and take on a leadership role, consider pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

MSN programs prepare RNs to become nurse practitioners (NPs) by offering in-depth knowledge of clinical practice techniques and concepts. NPs provide advanced nursing services to patients and families.

The MSN curriculum includes general topics relevant to all types of nursing positions, such as evidence-based practice in nursing, healthcare policy, leadership and quality, and health promotion and disease prevention. Some MSN programs also provide nurse practitioner concentrations to choose from, such as the following:

  • Adult-gerontology primary and acute care
  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Psychiatric nurse practitioner
  • Pediatric nurse practitioner

In addition to gaining technical expertise and knowledge, MSN students also improve their organizational and interpersonal skills, analytical thinking, and attention to detail. With this tool kit, MSN graduates are prepared to pursue positions as primary and specialty care providers.

Master of Science in Data Science

Data science is a relatively new field, one that combines math, statistics, science, and advanced technology concepts such as artificial intelligence (AI) to uncover key business insights embedded in data.

Thanks to advances in technology, organizations now have access to an abundance of useful data. The challenge lies in leveraging this information to produce actionable insights and positive business results. Qualified data scientists can make sense of this data. They use their knowledge and skills to define data metrics, run tests, interpret results, and design dashboards to draw conclusions and make the recommendations necessary to drive optimal outcomes.

While a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for some data science positions, many require the knowledge that comes with a graduate degree, such as a online Master’s in Data Science (MSDS). Students enrolled in an MSDS program typically acquire advanced data science expertise in the following areas:

  • Computer programming in R, Python, SAS, and SQL
  • Machine learning
  • Data forecasting
  • Deep learning
  • Big data analytics

Some MSDS programs also offer students the opportunity to tailor their education to align with specific career goals by offering such electives as actuarial science, probability, statistical modeling, and financial mathematics.

The skill set that MSDS graduates bring to the job market is in increasing demand. The BLS projects employment of computer and information technology professionals to grow 11% between 2019 and 2029. A 2020 Gartner survey revealed that 44% of polled organizations planned to increase their marketing analytics teams in two years. Additionally, almost half of the respondents anticipated the growth to be due to analytics having an even greater influence on business outcomes.

MSDS graduates can find employment in a variety of roles in corporations, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, insurance and financial agencies, and technology and manufacturing firms.

Reasons These are the Best Master’s Degrees to Pursue

The main reason the MBA, MSN, and MSDS degrees are some of the best master’s degrees for the future comes down to market demand. Corporations need effective business leaders to innovate and grow, healthcare facilities need nursing leaders to minimize the effects of the nursing shortage, and businesses need data scientists to help them navigate an increasingly complex sea of data to find actionable insights.

These degrees can also lead to a wide range of dynamic and well-paying careers. The median salary for management occupations was $109,760 in 2020, while business and financial professionals earned $72,250, according to the BLS. Those earning an MBA degree can potentially pursue the following careers, along with 2020 BLS median salaries:

  • Financial analyst: $83,660
  • Administrative services manager: $98,890
  • Human resources manager: $121,220

Individuals with an MSN can pursue several specialized nursing roles that concentrate on a specific patient demographic. The median salary for all advanced practice registered nurses was $117,670 in 2020, according to the BLS. Subspecialties, along with April 2021 PayScale median salaries, include the following:

  • Family nurse practitioner: $96,000
  • Pediatric nurse practitioner: $91,000
  • Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner: $110,500

Those who earn an MSDS can also apply their skills toward a broad range of promising careers. The median BLS salary for computer and information technology professionals was $91,250 in 2020. Some paths, along with April 2021 PayScale median salaries, include:

  • Senior data analyst: $82,000
  • Data engineer: $92,000
  • Data scientist: $96,500

Learn More About Master’s Degree Programs

Are you an ambitious professional ready to take your career to the next level with a master’s degree? Learn more about these advanced degrees by exploring Maryville University’s online master’s programs. Discover how they prepare professionals for a range of rewarding careers.

Recommended Reading

How to Get an MBA: Resources & Tips

MSN vs. RN: Taking the Next Step in Nursing Degrees

Why Are Data Scientists in High Demand?


AARP, Age 65+ Adults Are Projected to Outnumber Children by 2030

American Nurses Association, Workforce

Forbes, “6 Reasons Why Investment in Analytics Is Essential”

Forbes, “The 10 Most Underrated Reasons Why You Should Get an MBA”

Forbes, “Why People Still Want an MBA Degree”

Gartner, “Gartner Marketing Data and Analytics Survey 2020: Marketing Analytics Fails to Meet Leadership Expectations”

Harvard Business Review, “The Kinds of Data Scientists”

IBM, Data Science

Maryville University, Career Opportunities for MSN Graduates

Maryville University, Master of Science in Data Science

Maryville University, Master of Science in Nursing Online

Maryville University, Master’s in Business Administration Online

Maryville University, Online Master of Business Administration Curriculum

Maryville University, Online MSN Curriculum

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