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Masters Degree Programs in California

Overview of Master's Education in California

When it comes to earning a graduate degree, California schools are quite popular. In fall 2011, more students attended post-baccalaureate programs in California than in any other state -- 266,116 in total according to the National Center for Education Statistics (nces.ed.gov, 2012). Not surprisingly, there are a variety of places to earn a California master degree, including one of the 33 public schools throughout the University of California and California State University systems, or at one of the state's private institutions like the Stanford University, Santa Clara University and the University of Southern California. With e-learning gaining in popularity, many colleges also offer online masters degrees in California.

Many of the most well-known graduate schools in California are notoriously competitive when it comes to admission. They can also be quite expensive. For example, tuition and fees for UC Berkeley's full-time MBA program in 2013-14 are approximately $54,000 for in-state students and $57,000 for non-residents (berkeley.edu, 2013), while Stanford's full-time MBA program costs $59,550 (Stanford.edu, 2013). However, there are less California masters programs, and financial aid may be available. For comparison, average tuition and fees for U.S. grad programs in 2011-12 was $15,787 according to the NCES.

Entering California online master degrees programs or a traditional program both require a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution or being enrolled in a program that allows a master's and bachelor's to be earned concurrently. For admission, some schools may require the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). A minimum GPA for undergraduate coursework is also typically required for admission. Applicants may find that UCs and some private institutions have higher thresholds for acceptance than other graduate schools.

Before embarking on the journey, deciding on what degree is worth pursuing is obviously crucial. Below are two master's degrees that may make a graduate highly attractive in the labor force.

Popular Masters Degrees in California

Physical Therapist Masters Degree in California

To be a certified physical therapist in California, a master's degree is required. The Physical Therapy Board of California indicates that there are 14 accredited schools in California that allow students to earn a master's degree in physical therapy (ptbc.ca.gov. 2013). Many of these schools are in the California State University system.

Marriage and Family Therapist Master's Degree in California

To be a certified marriage and family therapist in California, a master's degree is necessary. The California Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Behavioral Sciences lists over 100 schools that offer Master of Family Therapy programs (bbs.ca.gov, 2012). However, to be certified in the state, students may have to supplement their coursework with classes at other institutions depending on their program and whether or not it meets state requirements.

Popular Schools in California for Earning a Master's Degree

In descending order, the University of Southern California, University California -- Los Angeles, and Stanford University have the highest graduate enrollment in California as of fall 2012 reports NCES. In addition to their high enrollment, these California colleges are highly regarded for their academics by major news publications like U.S. News & World Report (usnews.com, 2013).

  • University of Southern California: USC is tied with nearby UCLA for the No. 24 spot in U.S. News and World Report's national university rankings. It also ranks No. 5 among the country's best up-and-coming schools. While impressive in its own right, the school's grad programs (both on-campus and online) are the real standouts, with four ranked best in the nation by the publication: physical therapy, occupational therapy, online computer information technology, and online engineering.
  • University of California, Los Angeles: Along with being ranked the 24th best national university, UCLA has also been named the fifth best public school nationwide by U.S. News & World Report. It's rated as having the second best graduate psychology programs in the nation, with the best clinical psychology program. Other UCLA graduate programs earning high marks from U.S. News & World Report include fine arts (No. 4 in the nation), education (No. 8), math (No. 8) and business (No. 14).
  • Stanford University: Stanford is ranked No. 6 in the nation among national universities by U.S. News & World Report. And while it's likely considered a prohibitively expensive school by many, it's the country's fourth best value according to the publication. Among Stanford's lauded grad programs, many are ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, including psychology, statistics, business, computer science, biological sciences, and physics.

Note: Most current rankings as of Aug. 2013

Employment Outlook in California

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California had an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent in July 2013 - seventh highest in the nation, but down nearly one percent since the previous February (bls.gov/eag, 2013).

In May 2012, the average salary for California physical therapists was $89,370 per year, fifth highest among all states (bls.gov/oes, 2013). The California Employment Development Department (labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov, 2013) indicates that this is a rapidly growing profession. In fact, between 2010 and 2020, it expects California to add 24 percent additional physical therapy jobs, which compares favorably against the 16 percent projected job growth for all occupations in the state. On a national scale, this employment is expected to grow 39 percent during that timeframe (bls.gov/ooh, 2012).

The California Development Department also projects that employment of marriage and family therapists should increase by 39 percent between 2010 and 2020. While the yearly salary in California for these positions was slightly below the national average in May 2012, the median annual income in the state was approximately $45,000 and the top-paid therapists earned more than $72,000 per year. There were 10,700 such therapists working in California in May 2012 and projections indicate that there will be 14,900 in 2020 (bls.gov/oes, 2013). In the U.S. as a whole, employment of marriage and family therapists is expected to grow by 41 percent between 2010 and 2020 (bls.gov/ooh, 2012).


Sources:
National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, Fall 2011 Post-Baccalaureate Enrollment in Degree-Granting Institutions, Sept. 2012, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_251.asp
National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2011-12 Average Graduate Tuition and Fees, Jan. 2013, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_385.asp
National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS Data Center, Fall 2012 Enrollment at California Universities, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/Default.aspx
UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business, 2013-14 Cost of Attendance, http://www.haas.berkeley.edu/finaid/MBA/cost.html
Stanford University, Graduate School of Business, 2013-14 Tuition and Expenses, http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/mba/financial_aid/tuition_expenses.html
Physical Therapy Board of California, Accredited PT Programs, 2013 http://www.ptbc.ca.gov/applicants/pt_schools.shtml
California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Accredited Schools with MFT Degree Programs, 2012 http://www.bbs.ca.gov/app-reg/mft_schools.shtml
U.S. News & World Report, University of Southern, California Rankings, Accessed Aug. 21, 2013, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-southern-california-1328
U.S. News & World Report, University of California, Los Angeles Rankings, Accessed Aug. 21, 2013, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-california-los-angeles-110662/overall-rankings
U.S. News & World Report, Stanford University Rankings, Accessed Aug. 21, 2013, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/stanford-university-243744/overall-rankings
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2012 State Occupational and Wage Estimates, California, March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ca.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economy at a Glance, California, Aug. 19, 2013 http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.ca.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Physical Therapists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Marriage and Family Therapists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm#tab-6
California Employment Development Department, 2010-2020 Occupational Projections, 2010, http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/LMID/Projections_of_Employment_by_Industry_and_Occupation.html

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