Top 5 Most Popular Graduate Degrees

They'll separate you from the job applicants who only have undergrad degrees and land you a cool job, too: Here are the most popular graduate degrees.

With the demand for a college-educated workforce greater than it’s ever been—and college enrollment at historic highs—graduate degrees are needed more than the undergraduate degrees to separate you from the masses. Many are returning to school for advanced degrees in everything from business to education in an effort to take advantage of the opportunities a graduate degree affords in today’s economy. You may want to consider a handful of the more popular graduate degrees.

Here are the top five most popular graduate degrees:

5.) Engineering

Engineering is one of the most popular graduate degrees with a high remuneration

University of Strathclyde International Study Centre

Engineering offers a wide range of study areas from which a grad student can choose, from biomechanical to aerospace engineering.

Although engineers are usually trained in a specific discipline, they may become multi-disciplined through experience. It is one of the most popular graduate degrees because of its diverse fields like chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and more.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the engineering industry is still recovering from the recession, slowly regaining the jobs it lost. Civil engineers are in great demand, but biomedical engineering is growing even more rapidly as a field. The BLS pegs it as the third-fastest-growing job market.

Professionals in biomedical engineering, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “combine engineering principles with medical and biological sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in healthcare.” With respect to remuneration, biomedical engineers are reported to receive $70,200 at the entry stage to $129,300 by mid-career.

Also, another branch of engineering that is popular and is believed to pay the most is petroleum engineering. The median salary, according to, is about $130,280, and the possible jobs in this field include petroleum geologist, production engineer, reservoir engineer and more. The function of professionals in this field is to discover and produce oil.

Because of technological and other demands, engineering is still one of the most sought-after degrees in colleges and universities around the world.

4.) Legal Professions and Studies

A Gavel - The legal profession has a variety of popular graduate degrees

University of Evansville

Choosing a career as a legal professional will allow you to study many different disciplines and use that knowledge to understand and analyze law and public policy.

No matter what field you decide to pursue, you will learn fundamental legal concepts as well as current issues. While in school, you will take classes exploring the history of law, researching and writing for legal documents and learning how to think critically.

Most people who decide to pursue a legal professional degree will continue on to law school to become lawyers. However, there are many careers in the legal field, and as a result, graduate degrees in legal professions and studies will continue to be popular because they are applicable to a wide selection of career choices, from the practice of law to law enforcement and even civic or government work.

Students who pick the legal profession as a graduate degree in school can also become legal secretaries, court reporters and even paralegals.

Also, they can choose to pursue a career in the political science field or public policy. Graduate degrees in legal professions include not only Juris Doctorates, which are required for lawyers, but also masters-level study in criminal justice, criminology and even library science.

With so many career opportunities, the legal profession will remain one of the most sought-after graduate degrees in the world.

3.) Health Professions and Related Programs

Group of nurses and doctors - Nursing is one of the most popular graduate degrees in the health profession

Lawson State Community College

Health professionals maintain health in humans through the application of the principles and procedures of evidence-based medicine and care.

The health field includes not only doctoral-level degrees, such as those required to be a physician, dentist or psychologist, but also master’s degrees in nursing and administration. According to the BLS, nursing is the most rapidly growing field for job opportunities, as the general population gets older and lives longer. An older population creates an overall need for more healthcare providers, which makes nursing an attractive option for a graduate degree.

Nursing anesthesia is one of the most popular graduate degree programs under health-related programs. Nurse anesthetists carry out care and treatment before and after medical procedures. They deal with pain management and are said to be the main provider of anesthesia to the United States Armed Forces. The median salary for a nurse anesthetist is about $90,00-$96,000.

Another health-related graduate degree that is popular is healthcare administration. Holders of the degree turn out to be hospital administrators or directors of nursing. They are in charge of the administration and organization of a hospital staff’s daily activities. They also collaborate with professionals and government agencies or organizations to represent the interests of the hospital.

There is a major shortage of healthcare workers around the world, with governments offering lots of scholarship programs for the various healthcare courses and also offering loan forgiveness programs. Health professionals play a central and critical role in improving access to quality healthcare for the population, and with so many opportunities and fewer professionals in the industry, health professions and related studies are some of the most-wanted courses in higher institutions globally.

2.) Education

A Classroom setting - Education is one of the top popular graduate degrees you can do after your bachelors degree

With an increasing population and more people attending school at all levels, education is not a bad field to be in. Education offers a variety of job opportunities, including teaching, administration and counseling. The U.S. Bureau of Labor projects that this field will grow in the coming years and continue to create job opportunities for those who pursue education degrees. Also driving the popularity of education as a graduate degree is the fact that many states require K-12 teachers to have a master’s degree in order to be licensed.

1.) Business

A business class - The most popular graduate degrees are in the business field with marketing taking top spot

The most popular graduate degrees are in the business field. This is due to the popularity of master’s of business administration, or MBA, degrees, which not only offer study in a wide range of specialty areas—from accounting to entrepreneurship—but also afford an opportunity for a high-paying job. With such flexibility and variety in both fields of study and potential careers, it makes sense that business degrees top the list for graduate students.