The Rise of Master's Degrees

Brief

The Rise of Master's Degrees

December 12, 2018

Abstract

Master’s degree programs have changed dramatically in the past decade. Journalists have touted the master’s degree as “the new bachelor’s degree,” and roughly 785,000 master’s degrees were awarded in 2015–16. But beyond the rise in the number of master’s degrees awarded, there have been substantial changes in the enrollment demographics, field offerings, and delivery of master’s degree programs that deserve policymakers’ attention. I outline recent trends in master’s degree enrollment, including the increase in online enrollment, and connect these trends to potential “supply-side” factors, such as institution-level enrollment pressures, student loan policies, and predictors of success in online coursework.
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