Study: M.B.A. Now Most Popular Master’s Degree

A diploma certificate alongside a grad hat to celebrate the students success.
The M.B.A. is now the most popular master’s degree.
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A Master’s in Business Administration has become the most popular type of master’s degree, according to information from the Department of Education, analyzed by Vox.

In 2012, M.B.A. candidates made up 25.4 percent of all master’s students, up from 11.2 percent in 1971, 19.1 percent in 1981, and 24.6 percent in 2002. The 2012 data represents the first time the MBA has overtaken education as the most common advanced degree. Business degrees had been second to education all the way back to 1971.

In many states, including Massachusetts, teachers are required to earn a master’s degree, likely accounting for education’s high place on the list.

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The number of people earning any type of master’s degrees has grown by something close to 400 percent since 1971, and the number of people that hold an advanced degree has increased by 43 percent since 2002, according to Vox.

The business degree has undergone something of a facelift in recent years. A couple years back, U.S. News reported that prospective M.B.A. candidates have demanded more of an entrepreneurial focus in their coursework over curriculum that focuses on finance and consulting. With an ugly job market at hand for the past few years, it’s probably fair to speculate whether more people head to business school in hopes of getting their own ventures off the ground.

There has also been growth in programs that focus on the nonprofit sector and social entrepreneurship, which could also open doors to interested candidates.

The proliferation of M.B.A.s hasn’t seen a big boost for those earning them. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that starting pay had stagnated for those who earned the degree.

Whether a business leader even benefits from an M.B.A. has been a point of debate in the corporate world for years.