What Should I Get a Master's Degree In?

By Kaylor Jones

A college graduate in a gown holding a diploma

Deciding that you’d like a master’s degree is the first step in your continuing education journey. Whether you’d like to increase your earning potential, qualify for new opportunities or engage in an interesting subject area, the next step is to decide the best field of study for you. Here’s a breakdown of the different kinds of master’s degrees you may want to consider.

Master of Science

A master of science (MS) is usually a one- to two-year graduate program culminating in the completion of a scientific thesis or research project. The subject area falls within the fields of mathematics, engineering, medicine and the sciences. Many people who earn their MS go on to a doctoral program. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2015 that areas that see a wage increased for people with an MS compared to a bachelor’s degree include mathematicians (33% wage increase), environmental scientists (29%) and chemists and materials scientists (18%)1. If you work in one of these fields and would like to earn an increase in pay, an MS may be a strong choice.

Master of Arts

A master of arts (MA) program also lasts around one to two years. The subjects typically fall into the humanities and social sciences, including history, communication and fine arts. The degree can be based in courses, research or a combination of the two. Many programs culminate in a thesis, which demonstrates a student’s ability to plan and conduct research before defending the conclusions in a scholarly context. One option is an MA in English with an Emphasis in Education, which prepares students to be teachers of literature and rhetoric at two-year and four-year institutions. According to the BLS, postsecondary teachers with an MA make 14% more than those with a bachelor’s degree2.

Master of Business Administration

The BLS reported that more master’s degrees were awarded in business than any other field from 2012-20133. Masters of business administration (MBA) can cover various areas of business, including law, finance, management, entrepreneurship and accounting. An MBA is a terminal degree, meaning it is the highest degree offered in this particular academic area, and it qualifies professionals for a variety of high level jobs. An MBA is a good fit for anyone looking to become a leader in business, including as an executive or manager. These career fields see an increase in wages of up to 40 percent for employees with a master’s degree compared to a bachelor’s3.

Master of Education

A Master of Education is a useful degree for those in the area of education, and is typically required for those looking to advance in the field. They are often offered with specialties such as elementary or secondary education, special education and educational leadership. According to the BLS, more than one out of every five master’s degrees was awarded in education from 2012-2013, meaning that these degrees are in high demand for education professionals2. The highest wage premium for a master’s degree in education was awarded to education administrators, who saw a 44% increase compared to employees with a bachelor’s, with preschool and kindergarten teachers close behind at 43%2.

Grand Canyon University offers a large variety of cutting-edge master’s degrees for those looking to further their education. Visit our website to learn about how you can get started on your journey to find your purpose.


  1. https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm#STEM
  2. https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm#Education
  3. https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm#Business


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.