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Masters Degree Programs in Iowa

Overview of Master's Education in Iowa

Iowans tend to be educated, statistically speaking, but the state could still benefit from more master's degree holders. The Lumina Foundation reports that though the share of Iowa residents with at least a two-year degree in 2011 was higher than the national average, the proportion with a graduate or professional degree -- 8.69 percent -- was nearly two points short (lumina.org, 2013). The foundation suggests that if the state hopes to meet growing economic demand for highly educated workers, it needs to turn out more college graduates. Iowa masters programs can help fill that need. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (nces.ed.gov), as of 2013, Iowa is home to 26 public and private, not-for-profit graduate schools, plus a number of additional for-profit graduate institutions (nces.ed.gov, 2013).

Students applying to Iowa master programs must meet certain admissions requirements, though criteria tend to vary by institution and program. For example, as of 2013, the University of Iowa requires that all applicants hold at least a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university, and have earned at least a 3.0 GPA. At Iowa State, by contrast, individual departments set their own requirements. Other common requirements include specific GRE or GMAT scores which are subject to change from one year to the next.

Popular Master's Degrees in Iowa

Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree

In 2012, Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) published a list of 50 of the state's highest-demand, highest-salary jobs (iwin.iwd.state.ia.us, 2012). Among the featured careers that require -- or benefit from -- a graduate education, quite a few were business related, including marketing managers and human resource managers. Students earning on-campus or online master degrees in Iowa (an MBA for example) can develop business savvy in a number of different areas, like finance, business law and management. Some allow or require students to specialize in one particular area of the field.

Master's Degree in Computer Science

A handful of other careers featured on IWD's "Hot 50 Jobs" list were in computer and information technology. These include computer software engineers, computer systems analysts and database administrators. While not all of these tech jobs require students to earn a master's degree, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that earnings and employment potential both tend to improve with education (bls.gov/emp, 2013). Graduate-level computer science students are able to build upon their prior knowledge and learn advanced concepts, especially where computer languages, security and networking skills are concerned.

Popular Schools in Iowa for Earning a Master's Degree

Based on total graduate enrollment in fall 2012, the most popular grad schools in Iowa are Kaplan University (Davenport campus), Ashford University and the University of Iowa (nces.edu.gov, 2013). However, enrollment numbers don't tell the whole story, as some schools are better-known for their academic accolades.

The University of Iowa is one of the biggest public universities in the state, and has been rated highly by U.S. News & World Report (usnews.com, 2013). Though the school ranked No. 72 overall among national colleges in the 2013 edition of its rankings, a number of UI's graduate programs have also earned high marks, especially within health-related disciplines. Among them: speech-language pathology (No. 1 as of 2012), audiology (No. 2 as of 2012), physical therapy (No. 5 as of 2012) and nursing (No. 11 as of 2011). The schools online master's degree in education was also ranked in the top 100 nationally in 2012.

Iowa State University also ranked among U.S. News & World Report's best national colleges for 2013, earning the No. 101 spot overall. Graduate programs that have also been nationally ranked include: veterinary medicine (No. 17 as of 2011), chemistry (No. 38 as of 2010), engineering (No. 43 as of 2013) and business (No. 70 as of 2013).

Drake University has been rated as one of the region's best by U.S. News & World Report. Not only was Drake ranked No. 3 among all Midwest universities for 2013, it was also ranked as the 10th best value in the region. Among the school's highest nationally ranked graduate programs: rehabilitation counseling (No. 38 as of 2011), pharmacy (No. 42 as of 2012) and part-time MBA (No. 121 as of 2013).

Employment Outlook in Iowa

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of June 2013, Iowa's 4.6 unemployment rate was among the lowest in the country, and was on a downward trajectory (bls.gov/eag, 2013). Of course, some careers and industries are more promising than others, both in terms of projected growth and earnings.

The IWA projects that employment of systems software engineers will grow by 34 percent between 2010 and 2020, over twice the average rate in Iowa. The BLS doesn't publish salary information about systems software engineers specifically, but systems software developers earned an average annual salary of $86,140 in May 2012 (bls.gov/oes, 2013).

Those who decide to earn a marketing MBA could go on to become marketing managers. Employment of marketing managers working in Iowa is projected to grow 20 percent between 2010 and 2020, still well above average. And with average annual earnings of $107,380, Iowa's 1,450 marketing managers were among the highest paid management professionals in the state in May 2012.


Sources
Lumina Foundation, A Stronger Iowa through Higher Education, 2013, http://www.luminafoundation.org/stronger_nation_2013/downloads/pdfs/iowa-brief-2013.pdf
National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator, Iowa, 2013, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator
National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS Data Center, Fall 2012 Enrollment at Iowa Universities, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/Default.aspx
University of Iowa, Graduate College Admissions Requirements, 2013, http://grad.admissions.uiowa.edu/academics/graduate-college-admission-requirements
Iowa State University, Graduate Applicants, 2013, http://www.admissions.iastate.edu/apply/graduate.php
Iowa Workforce Development, 2010-2020 Iowa's Hot 50 Jobs, 2012, http://iwin.iwd.state.ia.us/pubs/statewide/statewidehotjobs.pdf
Iowa Workforce Development, 2010-2020 Statewide Occupational Projections, http://iwin.iwd.state.ia.us/pubs/statewide/stateoccproj.pdf
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2012 State Occupational and Wage Estimates, Iowa, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ia.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment," http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economy at a Glance, Iowa, Aug. 19, 2013 http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.ia.htm
U.S. News & World Report, University of Iowa Rankings, Accessed Aug. 21, 2013, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-iowa-153658/overall-rankings
U.S. News & World Report, Iowa State University Rankings, Accessed Aug. 21, 2013, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/iowa-state-university-153603/overall-rankings
U.S. News & World Report, Drake University Rankings, Accessed Aug. 21, 2013, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/drake-university-153269/overall-rankings

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