Most In-Demand Master’s Degrees Available Online

Do you want to upgrade your career? Discover the value of a master’s degree in the eyes of employers and learn which master’s degrees are most sought after by students.

The more advanced degree you have, the more job prospects you have, right? Right—if you choose a degree that employers want. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs requiring a master’s degree will grow by nearly 17% by 2026. But when it comes to what employers look for, not all master’s degrees are created equally.

While some students may be pursuing a master’s degree for reasons other than career advancement, the majority of students want to get hired. Before enrolling in any master’s program, finding out how desirable your credentials will be post-graduation is a crucial step. Discover which online master’s degree are most in-demand now and learn what employers are looking for from recent grads.

Why Earn a Master’s? What Employers Want

Earning a master’s degree can signal to employers your commitment to continued growth and a desire to take on higher-level managerial positions. If you’re on the fence about taking this next step, review a few reasons why an online master’s degree could be your best move.

  • Applicable Expertise

    A master’s degree shows potential employers that you’re dedicated to your field, spending the time, energy, and money to broaden your knowledge and hone your skills. By securing a master’s degree, prospective employers can be confident that you’re armed with the technical and theoretical knowledge necessary for success while bringing a level of professionalism and expertise to their team. Plus, a master’s degree can help set you apart from the competition.

  • Leadership Potential

    Many master’s programs offer leadership coursework, plus the expertise that comes with graduate-level work shows that you have advanced knowledge to share. Coaching, training, and mentoring are often invaluable to a high-functioning team. A master’s degree allows graduates to make leadership decisions based on a deep knowledge and experience. Plus, many organizations require an advanced degree for candidates interested in managerial/supervisory roles.

  • Real-World Problem Solving

    In addition to deeper knowledge and advanced technical skills, master’s graduates often have more real-world experience under their belt. Whether their hard-earned expertise comes from years of employment or professional practicums, these experiences translate into problem-solving skills that you can’t learn in a classroom. As a result, these professionals are uniquely prepared to take on leadership roles

  • Refined Soft Skills

    Along with enhanced problem-solving abilities, master’s graduates typically bring a honed toolkit of soft skills to their careers. From strong communication to intuitive emotional intelligence, master’s graduates possess a refined set of soft skills essential to teamwork and effective leadership. These professionals bring seasoned time-management skills and an appreciation for constructive criticism. Soft skills are not only a necessary characteristic of a quality employee but also of influential leaders.

  • Cultural Awareness

    Cultural awareness isn’t just a marker of a thoughtful employee; it’s expected in a 21st century workplace. Master’s graduates typically hold a greater degree of cultural awareness owing to additional experience around diverse groups of people and work in academic environments that prize diversity, equality, and social justice. For an employer, an applicant with finely tuned cultural awareness translates into an employee who works comfortably alongside an array of co-workers.

  • Embrace Challenges

    Having completed a master’s degree, employers know that you’re willing to tackle many challenges. Navigating and securing a graduate degree is no small feat and it shows employers that you can handle multiple complex tasks while effectively managing your time and working with others. Potential employers recognize—consciously or not—that you’ve invested significant time and money in your career. In short, it means that you’re a serious professional who can handle the challenges that you’ll inevitably encounter.

The Online Master’s: Reasons to Enroll Digitally

If you’re like many master’s students, you’ve been out of school for a few years and are working part-time, full-time, or more than full-time. If this sounds like you, an online master’s degree could be an excellent fit for your schedule and educational plan. Here are just a few solid reasons to opt for online.

  • Affordability

    An online master’s degree has the potential to be an affordable academic option. While details like in-state vs. out-of-state or public vs. private often play a significant role in the cost of a graduate degree, some online degrees split the difference between in-state and out-of-state costs. Master’s students typically save money in other ways, too. Not driving to campus saves on gas money, parking passes, and eating out, and distance learning is commonly exempt from on-campus fees that add up quickly over multiple semesters.

  • Flexibility

    With online degrees commonly using asynchronous coursework, you can complete assignments at your own pace and at times that suit you. Through online message boards and recorded lectures, distance learners engage with the same content as on-campus students while keeping up with personal and professional obligations. It’s also worth noting that many online degrees are designed specifically for working students, so many programs enroll students full time or part time. As for the workload, the best programs gauge how much coursework professionals in the field can handle.

  • Convenience

    What if you live in Maryland, but your school of choice is located in California? Online learning opens an extensive network of schools and degrees, requiring only a computer and an internet connection. The structure of asynchronous classes also allows you to log in at times that fit your needs rather than following a scheduled timeline.

  • Speed

    Depending on the program, many students complete an online master’s degree in just 12 months. North Texas University offers an online MBA that students complete in about a year, and California Baptist University offers an online MS in accounting that’s often completed in 12 months. If an accelerated academic track isn’t a good choice for you, you can slow it down by taking classes part-time.

  • Fewer Admissions Requirements

    Considering that many online master’s programs are designed for working professionals, it’s common to see fewer admissions requirements. Assuming that you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree and can document experience in the field, many programs forgo the need for standardized test scores, relying instead on a professional resume to gauge applicants’ seriousness and potential success. Admissions requirements vary from school to school, so make sure you understand expectations before you apply.

The Most Desired Master’s Degrees in 2021

Not all master’s degrees are created equal; employers value some degrees more than others. If a master’s degree is in your future, getting the inside scoop on which programs employers find most desirable, how competitive they are, and where the degree can take you is an important step. Below are some of the most in-demand master’s programs according to College Scorecard.

Most Desired Master’s Degree in 2021

Master’s Degrees in Business (incl. MBAs)

From accounting to MBAs, you’ll find numerous online master’s degrees designed for working business professionals. The expansive world of online business degrees not only prepares you with advanced technical knowledge, but it also focuses heavily on management techniques required for supervisory roles. In addition to traditional online coursework, many programs integrate online group work and provide valuable internship opportunities. Many online business degrees are completed 100% online.

Number of applications: 242,525

Acceptance rate: 54%

Available online? Yes. Online MBA programs as well as non-MBA online master’s in business programs are perfect for a digital format.

What can you do with an online master’s degree in business?

An online business master’s degree is a great way to augment a resume and gain expertise in your area of academic interest. Online programs focusing on HR, accounting, and logistics all provide a pathway to leadership roles in the field. It’s increasingly common for managerial positions to require an advanced degree, and many online programs integrate leadership training alongside technical coursework.

Most Desired Master’s Degree in 2021

Master’s Degrees in Mathematics & Computer Science

A master’s degree in mathematics or computer science provides coursework heavily rooted in theoretical and technical topics. Mathematics is a vast field, and students specialize in areas such as financial mathematics, computing, logic, and statistics. Computer science students often specialize in areas such as security, health informatics, and software development. While technical, an online master’s in mathematics or computer science provides you with the expertise needed to boost your salary and expand your career opportunities. As our world becomes more technical, these master’s-trained professions will be in demand.

Number of applications: 193,804

Acceptance rate: 39%

Available online? Yes. Online master’s in mathematics and computer science lend themselves well to a virtual delivery system.

What can you do with an online master’s degree in mathematics and computer science?

A master’s in mathematics opens a wide range of careers including roles such as economist, mathematician, financial planner, and teacher. Graduates with a master’s degree in computer science often work as computer systems analysts, software developers, information research scientists, and information systems managers. Integrating technical and leadership skills, many degrees act as a pipeline to supervisory positions.

Most Desired Master’s Degree in 2021

Master’s Degrees in Health Sciences

An online master’s degree in health sciences provides students with a flexible and affordable way to advance their credentials and expand their career opportunities in the booming field of healthcare. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the top ten fastest growing occupations six are related to healthcare. These degrees allow you to tailor your coursework to meet academic interests and career goals and are often 100% online. Standard specialization options include healthcare administration, health informatics, sports medicine, and biostatistics. Before graduation, students traditionally complete a capstone project and a clinical experience.

Number of applications: 185,510

Acceptance rate: 44%

Available online? Yes. While some on-campus visits may be required, an online master’s in health science can be completed almost entirely from home.

What can you do with an online master’s degree in health sciences?

An online master’s in health sciences allows students to customize their curriculum to mirror career goals. Besides boosting scientific knowledge and leadership skills, health sciences graduates see their annual salary increase significantly; master’s graduates earn an average salary of over $76,000 while individuals with a bachelor’s only make around $64,000 per year. Graduates tackle a wide range of roles as healthcare project managers, health informatics specialists, and healthcare administrators.

Most Desired Master’s Degree in 2021

Master’s Degrees in Engineering

Many schools now offer 100% online master’s degrees in engineering. Engineering serves as an overarching term; students enroll in specializations that include civil, electrical, mechanical, and aerospace engineering. If you’re more interested in supervisory roles, engineering management is also a common academic path. Applicants typically have an undergraduate degree in engineering, math, computer science, or a related STEM field. Like those pursuing master’s degrees in math and computer science, those with master’s degrees in engineering will take the lead in solving complex technical challenges.

Number of applications: 166,948

Acceptance rate: 49%

Available online? Yes. Many programs offer online master’s in engineering that can be completed without any campus visits.

What can you do with an online master’s degree in engineering?

While most engineering careers require an undergraduate degree, earning an online engineering master’s often leads to expanded career opportunities and increased salaries. In fact, many leadership positions in the engineering world require candidates to have a master’s degree. Common career paths include agricultural, chemical, and electrical engineering. Engineering is often a relatively lucrative career; in 2016, the median wage for engineers exceeded $91,000 annually.

Most Desired Master’s Degree in 2021

Master’s Degrees in Education

Securing an online master’s degree in education is an excellent way for working teachers to increase pay and expand career opportunities. Plus, a master’s in education is a great way to enter the field if you have an unrelated bachelor’s degree. These programs provide a graduate-level look into cutting-edge best practices in both your chosen specialization and topics like educational leadership and pedagogy so you can better prepare students for the increasingly complex world in which they’ll live.

Number of applications: 123,965

Acceptance rate: 71%

Available online? Yes, online master’s in education program are very common.

What can you do with an online master’s degree in education?

Whether you’re interested in educational leadership or curriculum and instruction, you can enhance your career options and earning potential in 18-24 months. Graduates often take on leadership roles within a school system, while others secure roles as instructional coordinators or trainers in the private sector. With an advanced degree your earning potential can grow significantly—while high school teachers make a median salary of about $62,000, principals earn almost $100,000 per year.

Most Desired Master’s Degree in 2021

Master’s Degrees in Social & Behavioral Sciences

An online master’s in social and behavioral sciences covers a wide range of topics such as psychology, counseling, and sociology. These online academic options prepare you for an equally expansive set of career paths, and a master’s degree can help boost your competitiveness when looking for a job. Through theoretical coursework, science-based research, and practicum experience, this widely applicable master’s track allows students to understand complex human behaviors while honing skills to offer effective clinical care.

Number of applications: 85,276

Acceptance rate: 57%

Available online? Yes. Programs like online behavioral analysis degrees are typically offered fully online.

What can you do with an online master’s degree in social and behavioral sciences?

While this online master’s applies to many related fields, students often shape their curricula based on factors such as academic interests and career goals. Graduates work in various positions, including as child development supervisors, human resources managers, case managers, and mental health clinicians. Though careers involving counseling and education aren’t always associated with large salaries, you can apply skills learned in these programs to lucrative positions such as human resource manager or public health administrator.

Most Desired Master’s Degree in 2021

Master’s Degrees in Arts & Humanities

Whether you’re seeking an MFA or a master’s in music, many online options exist within the arts and humanities. Additionally, a master’s in humanities (the degree, not the overarching discipline) allows you to customize your studies and earn an interdisciplinary degree tailored to specific academic interests. Other common online programs include a master’s in English, history, and art. Many of these programs are 100% online, allowing you to complete the work at your own pace. Advanced training in these disciplines leads to students who can think critically, communicate clearly, and be creative problem-solvers—skills that make them standout employees in a variety of fields.

Number of applications: 83,931

Acceptance rate: 40%

Available online? Yes. Online MFA programs as well as other online arts and humanities degree are widely available.

What can you do with an online master’s degree in arts and humanities?

While the arts and humanities sometimes get a bad rap for a perceived lack of career opportunities, that drastically underestimates the skills students gain from this type of academic work. In addition to a finely tuned cultural awareness, the arts and humanities provide extensive reading, writing, and research skills. Graduates work in various careers and environments, including education, museums, think tanks, and journalism.

Most Desired Master’s Degree in 2021

Master’s Degrees in Public Administration & Services

While not necessarily required for public service roles, an online master’s degree in public administration can advance your career and prepare you for leadership roles and management positions. Preparing graduates for an array of careers from local government to nonprofit organizations, these programs allow students to take on specializations such as budgeting, fundraising, and human resources. As a result, graduates are uniquely prepared to fill leadership roles in diverse fields such as healthcare, finance, and public policy, where they help shape societal change.

Number of applications: 61,489

Acceptance rate: 67%

Available online? Yes. Online public administration programs are often offered entirely virtually.

What can you do with an online master’s degree in public administration and services?

Graduates with a master’s degree in public administration and services traditionally pursue nonprofit and public service careers. Common titles include agency administrator, policy analyst, and nonprofit administrator. Building on their professional experience and graduate-level expertise, master’s grads often take on leadership positions. Government positions like community service managers earn median salaries of about $70,000 per year, while fundraising managers earn around $118,000 annually.

Most Desired Master’s Degree in 2021

Master’s Degrees in Biological & Agricultural Sciences

Online master’s degrees in biological and agricultural sciences are widely available as 100% online options. Online agriculture master’s programs take an interdisciplinary approach, combining animal science, ecology, wildlife, and environmental policy. Graduate-level biological sciences master’s programs find students taking courses focused on cell biology, epigenetics, evolution, and behavior and conservation. These degrees train leaders who will do the research and create the policies that shape environmental and health policy. While traditional coursework is commonly offered online, some degrees may require an in-person lab component.

Number of applications: 49,617

Acceptance rate: 51%

Available online? Yes, but some programs may require an in-person lab.

What can you do with an online master’s degree in biological and agricultural sciences?

Popular careers for graduates with a master’s in agriculture sciences include jobs in both the public and private sectors. Common roles include agricultural policy advisor, food science researcher, and consultant. Biological sciences graduates enter a job market that’s largely dependent upon their specializations, with careers ranging from park ranger to environmental protection supervisor. These degrees also translate well into an educational environment.

Most Desired Master’s Degree in 2021

Master’s Degrees in Physical & Earth Sciences

Online master’s degrees in physical and earth sciences are widely available. Students hone science-based research skills and gain competence in atmospheric chemistry, physical geography, and ecology. Other disciplines under the physical and earth sciences umbrella include topics such as chemistry and physics. A master’s degree bolsters analytical and technical skills while simultaneously providing a competitive edge when searching for a job spearheading scientific advancements and public policy.

Number of applications: 16,333

Acceptance rate: 47%

Available online? Yes, but some programs require hands-on lab work.

What can you do with an online master’s degree in physical and earth sciences?

Graduates in the various earth and physical sciences disciplines travel diverse career paths. Common fields include consultancy, nature conservation, and environmental management, and graduates take on roles within public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Physical science graduates also work as researchers, lab technicians, and in educational environments. Just as careers in this academic field vary considerably, so too does earning potential; laboratory technicians earn a median salary of about $54,000 while environmental specialists earn over $70,000 annually.