20 Most Useful Master’s Degrees in 2024

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Among the various educational pursuits, the most useful master’s degrees listed in this article stand out as powerful tools for career advancement and intellectual enrichment. These degrees, often aligned with the demands of the global economy, offer graduates a competitive edge in various professional fields.

This article aims to explore the 20 most useful master’s degrees, shedding light on their significance, and the opportunities they present. Let’s get started.

Understanding the Value of a Master’s Degree

A master’s degree can be a valuable asset in 2024, offering several benefits:

  1. Higher Earnings: According to a study by the Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC) in 2021, a master’s degree can boost your earnings by up to 87%. Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics supports that master’s degree holders earn up to 20% higher annual salaries than bachelor’s graduates and 100% more than high school diploma holders.
  2. Career Advancement: A master’s degree can provide you with higher-level skills and increase your value in the eyes of employers, potentially leading to more opportunities for career advancement.
  3. Specialization: Master’s degrees allow for specialization in a particular field, which can make you more competitive in the job market.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Master’s Degree.

Choosing a master’s degree is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Reasoning: Understand why you want to pursue a master’s degree. It’s a significant financial and time commitment, usually taking one to three years of continuous, full-time study.
  2. Career Requirements: Some professions, such as doctors, nurses, professors, and scientists, require a master’s degree. If your career goals require a master’s degree, it’s a good idea to pursue one.
  3. Investment: Consider it as an investment in your financial future. Assess the potential return on investment from the degree.
  4. Lifestyle: Be realistic about how pursuing a master’s will fit in with your real life.
  5. Reputation: Consider the reputation of the institution and the program.
  6. Quality of Research Facilities: Good research facilities can enhance your learning experience.
  7. Career Paths of the Program’s Graduates: Look at the career outcomes of the program’s graduates.
  8. Availability of Financial Aid: Financial aid can ease the financial burden of a master’s degree.

List of the 20 Most Useful Master’s Degrees

Below is a list of the most useful master’s degrees:

  1. Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  2. Master’s in Computer Science
  3. Master’s in Cybersecurity
  4. Master’s in Data Science
  5. Master’s in Economics
  6. Master’s in Engineering Management
  7. Master of Finance
  8. Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  9. Master’s in Public Health
  10. Master of Public Administration (MPA)
  11. Master of Laws (LLM)
  12. Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA)
  13. Master’s in Human Resources
  14. Master’s in Industrial Engineering
  15. Master’s in Information Technology (IT)
  16. Master’s in Marketing
  17. Master’s in Mathematics
  18. Master’s in Petroleum Engineering
  19. Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies
  20. Master’s in Political Science.

20 Most Useful Master’s Degrees

1. Master of Business Administration (MBA)

  • Duration: Typically, 2 years
  • Salary Expectation: The median starting salary for MBA graduates at US companies in 2021 was projected to be $115,000.

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a graduate degree that provides theoretical and practical training for business or investment management. It is designed to help graduates gain a better understanding of general business management functions.

The core courses in an MBA program cover various areas of business administration such as:

  • Accounting
  • Applied statistics
  • Human resources
  • Business communication
  • Business ethics
  • Business law
  • Strategic management
  • Business strategy
  • Finance
  • Managerial economics
  • management
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
  • Supply-chain management
  • Operations management.

To get into an MBA program, an applicant needs to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and be accepted by the program based on its selection criteria. Some programs may require the GRE instead or accept it as an alternative standardized test.

2. Master’s in Computer Science

  • Duration: Typically, 1 to 2 years
  • Salary Expectation: The median annual salary of computer scientists in the U.S. is about $131,490.

A master’s in computer science is a graduate-level degree that provides in-depth knowledge of computer science principles and develops problem-solving and analytical skills.

The field of computer science has seen rapid changes with developments like artificial intelligence, data science, and the Internet of Things. This degree can help technology professionals stay on the cutting edge of the industry.

The duration of the program can vary, but as a part-time student, you can expect to finish the degree in 3 to 5 years, and as a full-time student, you can expect to finish the degree in 1 to 2 years.

3. Master’s in Cybersecurity

  • Duration: 1 to 2 years
  • Salary Expectation: The median salary of a cybersecurity expert in the U.S. is about $92,500.

A master’s degree in Cybersecurity is a specialized program that equips students with the skills and knowledge to protect computer systems, networks, and data from cyber threats. This degree is increasingly relevant in today’s digital age where cyber threats are prevalent and sophisticated.

Programs like the one offered by Harvard Extension School provide a strong foundation and detailed technical knowledge in security, privacy, and cryptography.

Students learn to plan, manage, and maintain the security of an organization’s cloud infrastructure and applications through online courses, an experiential on-campus course, and a capstone project.

4. Master’s in Data Science

  • Duration: 1 to 2 years
  • Salary Expectation: On average, data scientists in the United States earn about $119,000 to $124,758 per year.

A Master’s in Data Science is a graduate-level program that equips students with the technical and analytical skills needed to manage, analyze, and visualize large data sets.

The program typically covers a wide range of topics including predictive modeling, data mining, machine learning, artificial intelligence, data visualization, and big data. It also focuses on the practical application of these methods to solve real-world, data-driven problems.

5. Master’s in Economics

  • Duration: 1 to 2 years.
  • Salary Expectation: The median earnings for economists in 2021 were $105,630.

A Master’s in Economics is a graduate-level degree that equips students with the tools of a professional economist. These tools are applicable in various sectors such as government, central banking, international organizations, and private sector firms like economic consultancies.

The program is technically rigorous and serves as an excellent foundation for PhD programs and other research-focused roles. It concentrates on the core elements of economic theory, macroeconomics, and econometrics, with extensive use of mathematics intended to facilitate analysis.

Graduates with master’s degrees in economics can pursue roles as economists, consultants, policy analysts, and statisticians.

6. Master’s in Engineering Management

  • Duration: 1-2 years
  • Salary Expectation: On average, $91,025 per year.

A Master’s in Engineering Management (MEM) is a specialized degree that bridges the gap between the field of engineering and business management. It is designed for professionals in engineering who are looking to increase their credentials and move into administrative positions.

This degree combines the technical expertise of engineering with the strategic and organizational skills of management, preparing engineers to advance to management and executive roles as technical and managerial leaders of private and public organizations.

The curriculum of a MEM program typically includes a mix of engineering and management courses. While management courses serve as the core of the program, students often have the opportunity to choose a specialty track that aligns with their interests and career goals.

These tracks provide graduate-level work that combines the chosen specialty with engineering management perspectives. The program equips students with the ability to solve challenges as effective technical contributors and ethical leaders, apply best practices as practitioners, and be recognized as professional leaders in contemporary, multidisciplinary technical organizations.

7. Master of Finance

  • Duration: 1-2 years
  • Salary Expectation: On average, $132,537 per year in the United States.

A Master of Finance is a specialized postgraduate degree that provides in-depth training in finance and economics. It is designed to prepare students for a wide range of careers in the financial sector. The curriculum typically includes courses in financial theory, quantitative methods, financial markets, corporate finance, and investment analysis.

For instance, the Master of Finance program at MIT Sloan offers an 18-month (or 12-month accelerated) STEM curriculum that emphasizes market workings and the latest financial theories, models, and industry practices.

The program is adaptable to career aspirations, with opportunities in established financial institutions, corporations, consulting firms, the public sector, and fintech.

8. Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Salary Expectation: On average, $120,870 per year.

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a graduate-level degree designed to prepare nurses for advanced practice roles or to take on advanced, non-clinical nursing roles.

After entering the nursing field and gaining valuable experience, many nurses choose to expand their knowledge and skill set by pursuing an MSN. Earning a graduate degree allows nurses to pursue advanced practice roles that are in demand and offer higher salaries.

The average program length is 1-2 years with an average of 36-60 credits required. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) projects that MSN positions, such as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners could grow by 45% from 2020-2030, significantly higher than the 8% projected for all professions.

9. Master’s in Public Health

  • Duration: 1-2 years
  • Salary Expectation: On average, $70,000 per year one year after study, increasing to $97,000 per year five years after study.

A Master’s in Public Health (MPH) is a graduate-level degree designed to train students to protect and improve the health of communities. This multidisciplinary program prepares students to become leading public health professionals capable of addressing current global health problems with multidisciplinary, evidence-based approaches.

The curriculum is rigorous and covers the breadth of public health. It provides students with a more advanced understanding of the five core disciplines of public health: biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, health policy and administration, and social and behavioral sciences.

10. Master of Public Administration (MPA)

  • Duration: 1-2 years
  • Salary Expectation: On average, $70,000 per year one year after study, increasing to $77,000 per year two years after study.

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a professional graduate degree that provides students with the skills and knowledge to manage public agencies and programs. The curriculum typically includes courses in policy formulation and implementation, organizational theory and behavior, management, and public finance.

At institutions like Harvard Kennedy School, the MPA program is tailored to the individual student. The curriculum is flexible, allowing students to create a study plan that reflects their academic interests and focuses on their personal and professional aspirations. Students may also decide to pursue a concurrent degree in business, law, medicine, or other professional fields.

11. Master of Laws (LLM)

  • Duration: The Master of Laws (LLM) program can be undertaken on a full-time basis in 10 months, or on a part-time basis across two academic years.

The Master of Laws (LLM) is a postgraduate academic degree, pursued by those either holding an undergraduate academic law degree, a professional law degree, or an undergraduate degree in a related subject. It is offered in a range of specialist areas such as international law, commercial law, tax law, environmental law, and more.

In many jurisdictions, the Master of Laws is the basic professional degree for admission into legal practice. It’s designed to allow students to take full advantage of law school’s wide range of courses to design an individualized curriculum that matches their intellectual and professional interests.

The flexible structure of the program makes it ideal for working professionals looking to immerse themselves in selected areas of the law. 

12. Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA)

  • Duration: An MHA degree usually requires between 36 and 45 credits and takes two to three years to earn.
  • Salary Expectation: On average, the starting master’s in healthcare administration salary is $28.28 an hour, which works out to $4,900 a month or $58,820 a year.

A Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA) is a professional degree program that prepares individuals for managerial and leadership roles in healthcare administration.

The curriculum for this degree program includes aspects of both business (markets, finance, accounting) and healthcare. The entire course structure is typically divided into four semesters and is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to efficiently lead and manage a healthcare facility.

The MHA program focuses on the management and administration of healthcare organizations. As an MHA student, you will learn from a course structure that has been training and empowering healthcare professionals for many years. As a graduate, you will come away with a comprehensive understanding of business administration, ethics, human relations, law, and financial management.

13. Master’s in Human Resources

  • Duration: Typically, master’s degree programs in human resources require students to complete approximately 30 to 45 credits over one to two years of full-time or part-time study.
  • Salary Expectation: The average advertised salary for an HR professional with a master’s degree is $80,300.

A master’s in human resources (HR) is a postgraduate degree that provides students with advanced knowledge and skills in the field of human resources management.

This degree is designed for professionals who are interested in leading HR departments and adding value to their organizations. The curriculum often focuses on strategic human resource management, which goes beyond the day-to-day mechanics of HR to encompass the discipline’s role within organization-wide strategies, culture, and goals.

14. Master’s in Industrial Engineering

  • Duration: 2years
  • Salary Expectation: $93,500

A master’s in industrial engineering is a graduate-level degree that universities often offer as a Master of Science (M.S.). This degree program is designed for students who want to enhance their training in special fields such as scheduling, production planning, inventory control, and industrial economics.

Industrial engineers create solutions that meet the needs of rapid globalization and technological innovation. They determine the most effective ways to design, manage, and improve systems — people, machines, materials, information, and energy — to make a product or provide a service.

Industrial engineering is the process of synthesizing insights from the physical, mathematical, and social sciences to design efficient systems. Industrial engineers review workflows, develop management control systems, enact quality control procedures, analyze data, and more to create effective processes or products.

15. Master’s in Information Technology (IT)

  • Salary Expectation: $91,250 per year

A Master’s degree in Information Technology (IT) is an advanced degree that prepares students for high-level tech careers. This degree is designed to provide a deep understanding of IT applications in various corporate settings.

It covers a wide range of subjects such as database systems, software design and engineering, and human-computer interaction. The degree can qualify professionals for many of the most appealing tech careers.

16. Master’s in Marketing

  • Duration: 1-2 years.
  • Salary Expectation: The average salary for a master’s in marketing graduate is around $71,000.

A master’s in marketing is a graduate degree that prepares students to advance their marketing careers or pivot into the marketing field. Marketing roles rarely require a master’s, but this degree can help graduates stand out as qualified and knowledgeable job candidates.

During a marketing master’s program, students learn about advanced marketing topics, such as market research, consumer behavior, and strategies for digital messaging.

Most marketing master’s degrees take about two years to complete, though part-time learners might need more time, and students in accelerated programs might earn their degrees more quickly. A typical master’s in marketing program involves around 35 credits.

Students can opt for an in-person, hybrid, or fully online marketing master’s degree. Some students opt to pursue an M.B.A. in marketing rather than the more common M.S. in marketing. M.B.A. in marketing programs tends to explore business with an emphasis on marketing, whereas M.S. in marketing degrees focus on marketing specifically.

17. Master’s in Mathematics

  • Duration: 1-2 years.

A Master’s degree in Mathematics is a graduate-level program that provides students with advanced knowledge in mathematics and prepares them for careers in various fields such as academia, research, engineering, finance, and more.

The degree can be classified into different types such as Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), or Master of Mathematics (MMath), each with its unique focus and structure.

The curriculum of a Master’s in Mathematics is broad and flexible, allowing students to tailor the program to their interests and requirements.

It covers subjects in mathematics, statistics, and computer science, ranging from number theory, geometry, and algebra to genetics and mathematical physiology; from probability and mathematical geoscience to data mining and machine learning. Students have the opportunity to choose from many options, including specialized courses like statistics, mathematical modeling, and more.

18. Master’s in Petroleum Engineering

  • Duration: 1-2 years
  • Salary Expectation: Recently graduated petroleum engineering students can earn an average of $83,778.

A master’s in petroleum engineering is a postgraduate degree that equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to understand the technology of oil and gas exploration.

It involves the study of physics, chemistry, mathematics, geology, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and economics. The program is designed to prepare students for a variety of career opportunities in the oil industry, transportation, mining, storage, drilling, and consulting firms.

The curriculum of a Master’s in Petroleum Engineering typically includes courses on reservoir engineering, drilling engineering, production engineering, and petroleum geophysics.

Some programs also offer concentrations in areas such as Geoscience Technologies and Digital Oilfield Technologies. These specializations allow students to focus on specific aspects of petroleum engineering that align with their career goals.

19. Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies

  • Duration: About 2 years.
  • Salary Expectation: The average base salary for a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) graduate is around $106,000.

A Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies is a graduate-level program that prepares students for careers as physician assistants. These programs typically focus on medical sciences, patient care strategies, and healthcare ethics.

One example of such a program is the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) Studies at Stanford Medicine. This 9-quarter program aims to develop highly skilled clinical PAs and inspire PA students to become PA leaders through work in scholarly concentrations, including community health, clinical research, health services and policy research, and medical education.

Upon completion of the program, students earn a Master of Science (MS) degree in Physician Assistant Studies and are prepared to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE). This degree equips graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide high-quality healthcare services under the supervision of a licensed physician.

20. Master’s in Political Science

  • Duration: About 2 years.

A master’s in political science is a graduate-level program that provides students with a deep understanding of political systems, public policies, and governmental processes.

The program typically focuses on areas such as American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Models and Methods, Political Economy, and Security Studies. It equips students with the skills and knowledge to evaluate and promote effective public policies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I pursue a master's degree?

A master's degree can provide specialized knowledge and skills that can enhance your career prospects.

What if my desired master's degree isn't on the list?

This list is not exhaustive, and the usefulness of a master's degree can vary depending on individual career goals and industry trends. If your desired degree isn't listed, it doesn't mean it's not valuable. Consider researching the specific demand and opportunities in your chosen field.

How long does it take to complete a master's degree?

The duration of a master's degree program typically ranges from one to three years, depending on the program's requirements and whether you're studying full-time or part-time.

Can I pursue a master's degree while working full-time?

Yes, many master's programs offer flexible scheduling options, such as evening or online classes, to accommodate working professionals. However, balancing work and study requires careful time management and dedication.


The 20 master’s degrees highlighted in this article are not only useful but also align with the demands and trends of the job market in 2024. They offer a blend of hard skills and soft skills, preparing graduates for a wide range of careers and providing them with the tools to adapt to future changes.

We’ve come to the end of this article; we wish you good luck in your master’s degree application.

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