The Growth of Master's Degrees

A new Vox article reports on the growth of Master's degrees in the U.S. where about eight percent of the population holds a Master's degree, a 43 percent increase since 2002.

Looking at Master's degrees trends over the last 40 years indicates that:

  • A graduate degree is associated with a boost in earnings, but also larger student debt.  The median amount of debt accrued by graduate degree holders has increased from $40,000 in 2004, to $57,000 in 2012.
  • In 1971, education and business made up 37.2 percent and 11.2 percent of Master's degrees.  By 2012, business was the most popular field, and professionally-oriented degrees (health professions and public administration and social services, in particular) had gained ground.
  • The fastest growing fields for Master's degrees are: law enforcement (+186.3 percent), leisure and fitness studies (+173.1 percent), engineering (+122.1 percent), multidisciplinary studies (+113.1 percent), and health professions (+92.6 percent).

Read more: resources:
Economics of Education (
Without a High-School Education (
Men's real hourly wage by education, 1973-2007 (
Do Blacks Earn Less than Whites and Why? (
Women's Education (
Education and Earnings: Does Education Pay? (
Education in America (
Exploring Education Attainment of U.S. Native-born and Foreign-born (
The Value of College (
Frederique Laubepin

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