While jobs are few and the candidates for them plentiful, students working to advance their credentials have contributed to an increase in master’s degree enrollments, according to Inside Higher Education. And these days, they’re likely to find a wide variety of online and on campus degree programs to help them achieve their goal of an advanced university degree. New and expanded master’s degree programs were being created at the time of the publication’s last year report.
More than 600,000 master’s degrees were awarded in 2006-2007, an increase of as much as 44 percent as compared with those awarded a decade prior, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Most recipients in 2006-2007 were women, and the number of minority graduate students is reportedly on the rise.
Online degree programs might make it easier for students pursuing master’s degrees to schedule their studies. Online degree programs overall are reportedly growing fast, and students can study for a master’s online between work and family responsibilities and from wherever they have Internet access. Students might also find accelerated online master’s degree programs where they can accomplish their goals in less time than they otherwise would. Striving for one’s university degrees can also be easier with the help of tuition assistance.
There might especially be incentives for students pursuing online master’s degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects. As a January 2009 article in an educational magazine known as Converge tells it, the Obama administration as well as business groups and state governments have been working to enhance STEM study incentives and programs.
Council for Graduate Studies President Debra W. Stewart in a news release credited master’s degree programs with training highly skilled science professionals who significantly contribute to the country’s economic competitiveness. STEM careers exist in the field of nanotechnology that make products such as the iPod possible as well as in alternative energy, such as wind and solar power, that are designed to help the natural environment.
Online master’s degree programs in the STEM subjects include everything from professional science and environmental engineering to cybersecurity and bioethics. And industries in the STEM subject areas are looking for qualified applicants, the Converge article noted.
So far, at least, a low percentage of American college students have been majoring in STEM studies as compared with students in other countries, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And a National Center for Education Statistics report seems to back this information up. Master’s degree recipients in the United States in 2006-2007 apparently majored most often in education, business and health science degrees, the Center for Education Statistics report suggests. The fewest master’s degrees that year were awarded in mathematics and statistics-and while master’s degrees in security and protective services enjoyed the largest percent increase between 1996-1997 and 2006-2007, master’s degrees in physical sciences and science technologies saw the smallest percent increase, the Center for Education Statistics report shows.
College tuition can no doubt be costly, but students can find help in paying for online accredited degrees with scholarships and fellowships in the areas of teaching, the humanities, theology, western civilization and more. Colleges, universities, organizations and non-profit foundations offer scholarships and fellowships, and some of these financial aid offerings are designed especially for women and minorities. Some scholarships and fellowships, such as those offered by NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Society for Microbiology and the U.S. Departments of Energy, Defense and Homeland Security, are also geared toward students pursuing graduate degrees in the STEM subjects.
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