We know that graduate students often enroll to gain the skills and knowledge necessary for bigger and better professional opportunities. But which skills do employers seek most frequently, and which master’s programs offer top skills to students?
Our researchers analyzed job postings data nationwide to determine the top 50 most in-demand skills for professionals with a master’s degree. We then analyzed which skills have experienced the greatest increase in employer demand in the last three years. The chart below features the top 50 most in-demand skills for graduates of master’s-level programs.
Our researchers categorized highly demanded skills as “fundamental” and “emerging skills.” Fundamental skills are those that appeared in the highest proportion of job postings in the past 36 months and are continuously highly requested by employers. Emerging skills are requested at the highest increasing frequency, signaling they are increasingly important to employers.
The chart below features the top 50 most in-demand skills for graduates of master’s-level programs:
Based on the data above, we identified the program areas which most often confer the skills in greatest demand. Here are the top three programs (and one honorable mention) that confer in-demand skills in reverse order.
Honorable Mention: Business Administration
The qualification “Master of Business Administration (MBA)” ranked second among fundamental skills. Skills commonly conferred in MBA programs, including “project management” and “finance,” appeared among fundamental skills, and “Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)” appeared among emerging skills. With consistent historical demand for professionals with MBAs, this program remains relevant for career-oriented prospective students.
Skills including “finance,” “accounting,” and “auditing” ranked among the top 10 fundamental skills demanded by employers over the past three years. Other skills, including “financial analysis” and “financial statements,” also appeared among the top 50 employer-demanded skills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for financial managers will grow 17% in the next 10 years.
#2: Computer Science
In second place, we have computer science. Computer science skills appear among both the fundamental and emerging skills. “Computer science” ranked first among fundamental skills, with 13.46% of job postings requesting professionals with this skill. Other related skills, including “automation,” “Python (programming language),” and “R (programming language),” appeared among the top 10 most increasingly demanded skills. “Software development” and “software engineering” appeared among the top 50 in-demand skills. According to the BLS, employment for “Computer and Information Research Scientists,” an occupation that typically requires a master’s degree, will increase 21% over the next 10 years.
#1: Data Science
Finally, in the number one spot, we have data science programs. The BLS predicts that employment for data scientists will grow 36% in the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations. According to the BLS, employment for data scientists will rise along with increased demand for data-driven decisions that will support product design, development, and marketing. Among both consistently and increasingly demanded skills, several data science-related skills emerged, including “data analysis,” “data science,” “mathematics,” “SQL (programming language),” and “R (programming language).”
Are your graduate programs designed to grow enrollment?
Use this diagnostic to assess your program planning practices and to identify areas to evaluate in support of growth goals.