MBA and the Field of Business Now Number One in the US: MBA News |

MBA and the Field of Business Now Number One in the US: MBA News

By Tim Dhoul

Updated January 3, 2017 Updated January 3, 2017

The field of business, including the MBA, has now overtaken education as the most popular master’s degree in the US, according to a new analysis of data from the US Department of Education by Vox.

Figures released by the US Department of Education show that in the academic years 2010-11 and 2011-12, more master’s degrees were awarded in the field of business than in education, bringing to an end decades of dominance from the latter.

Together the two disciplines account for just under 50% of the approximately 750,000 degrees awarded in the year 2011-12, nationwide.

Looking at the figures from the US Department of Education directly, the field of business’s share of the total number of master’s degrees awarded more than doubled between 1971 and 1991, from 11.2% to 22.8%, coming to account for 25.4% of the total by 2012. Meanwhile, education’s share of the total fell from 37.2% in 1971 to 23.6% in 2012.

US Department of Education highlights growth of master’s degrees in the US

The report from Vox also points to the how much the number of students taking master’s degrees has grown since the 1970s, with it estimating that 16 million people in the US, or 8% of the population, now hold the qualification – making it as commonplace now as bachelor’s degrees were in the 1960s.  

Further figures from the US Department of Education highlight how over the 10 year period between 2002 and 2012, master’s degrees awarded rose by as much as 55%, with a 60% rise seen in the field of business education. Of course, the nation’s population also rose in this timeframe, but by less than 10% between 2000 and 2010 according to US Census figures.

Although master’s graduates will invariably enjoy salary boosts on completion of their program, an increasingly qualified US demographic also brings with it increased levels of student debt. However, an MBA’s previous work experience and the degree’s high potential ROI means graduates place well below a national average of US$57,000 sourced by Vox from the New America Foundation.

This article was originally published in May 2014 . It was last updated in January 2017

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).