At a certain point, many people realize they want to get a master’s degree. Not only can graduate school be a fulfilling, enriching experience, but it almost always leads to a higher salary down the road.
Whether you’re fresh off a bachelor’s degree or want to head back to school after many years in your career, there really is never a bad time. One question you will need to determine, though, is what type of degree to get. There are a ton of master’s degree options, and each one offers a different experience and a different potential future.
For anyone who is confused about all the options out there, here is a rundown of four leading specialized and professional master’s degrees.
1. Master of Business Administration
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a solid choice for anyone who wants to be in the business world. It provides a great education with options for specializations, and it will immediately make you an appealing candidate to so many companies. While choosing a specialization isn’t always necessary on day one, many traditional options — including finance, marketing, hospitality and accounting — remain very popular. There are also newer and emerging areas, such as business analytics, entrepreneurship and sustainability, to choose from.
If you go this route, you might wonder how long it takes to get an online MBA. That can vary somewhat program to program or whether you go full-time or part-time, but it is possible to complete an online MBA in two years if you put in the work. In the grand scheme of things, that’s a fast way to a bigger salary.
2. Master of Fine Arts
Sometimes viewed as the polar opposite of an MBA, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is ideal for anyone looking to make a living in more creative fields. In essence, an MFA is what you should get if you want to refine your creative techniques and formalize your artistic vision into a real career. Though it may seem more limiting compared to an MBA, this degree remains quite versatile and will immediately open opportunities for graphic designers, art directors, interior designer, creative directors, copywriters and UX designers.
There are many options for MFA holders across all industries and verticals. Creative directors and graphic designers, for example, are needed even by corporations in buttoned-up sectors like insurance and mining. The same often goes for copywriters, art directors and, these days, even video producers for companies looking to produce in-house content for social and other owned media channels.
3. Master of Public Administration
A Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree can be seen similarly to an MBA. The most immediate difference is whether you want to go into the private sector or the public sector. If working in government and serving a community directly is where you want to head, this may be the best move for your career.
Those who earn an MPA can pursue a wide range of careers. City manager is a fascinating and popular choice. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), charities and international aid foundations value this degree very highly. And, ultimately, you will be in a good position to get any business-centric role with a local or federal governmental agency, including budget analyst, public administration consultant or fundraiser.
4. Master of Education
Getting a Master of Education (M.Ed) degree is how many people have found a career in educational administration. For some, this is something they opt for right out of the gates.
More often than not, however, it is a progression for those who have already worked in schools in other roles. Effectively, an M.Ed, especially paired with previous real-world experience in the field, is perfect for anyone who no longer wants to teach but wants to continue working in other areas of education.
Picking the Right Professional Master’s for You
You really can’t go wrong with a master’s degree — as long as it is relatively affordable and will lead to a good career. Don’t over-burden yourself in debt for a degree that doesn’t have a quick path to a good salary. Most MBA, MFA, MPA and M.Ed programs are a safe bet to improve your earning potential and professional fulfillment.