Masters Degree Programs in Pennsylvania
Overview of Master's Education in Pennsylvania
The Lumina Foundation reports that 11 percent of Pennsylvanians aged 25 to 64 have earned graduate or professional degrees as of 2011, but the state will need to add more college graduates of all ranks if it hopes to meet market demand by 2018 (luminafoundation.org, 2013).
As of 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics (nces.ed.gov) reports that there are 118 Pennsylvania colleges offering advanced awards such as master’s and doctoral degrees, including 24 public campuses and 90 nonprofit private. A number of these are well-known schools, like Penn State University, University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. Many also allow students to earn online master degrees in Pennsylvania (and beyond).
Of course, education is a financial investment, and according to the U.S. Department of Education's College Affordability and Transparency Center, the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University (main campuses) had the highest in-state tuition and fees among public four-year schools during the 2011-2012 academic year (collegecost.ed.gov, 2012). Several of Pennsylvania's private colleges also ranked among the most expensive, including Carnegie Mellon, Bucknell University and Dickinson College.
Students applying to Pennsylvania master's programs must have at least a bachelor's degree and meet other admissions criteria. An applicant's overall undergraduate GPA and scores on tests like the GRE or GMAT are often considered, though programs tend to weight them differently. Penn's Graduate School of Education, for instance, reports that the average GRE scores for its 2012-2013 master's degree candidates were 157 Verbal, 155 Quantitative and 4.0 Writing (gse.upenn.edu, 2013). Students can research admissions requirements and averages for specific schools and programs to learn more.
Popular Master's Degrees in Pennsylvania
Computer Science Master's Degrees
Of all the professions that require -- or at least benefit from -- a master’s degree, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (PDLI) projects that systems software developers will be one of the faster growing between 2010 and 2020 (portal.state.pa.us, 2012). While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most software developers have bachelor's degrees in computer science, those with a master's degree might have an edge over lesser-educated competition, and, perhaps, improved earnings and advancement potential (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). These programs help students develop a number of different skills, such as computer programming and cybersecurity.
Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degrees
Management analyst jobs in Pennsylvania are also expected to grow fairly quickly between 2010 and 2020. The BLS reports that while a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for most management analysts, there are employers who favor candidates with Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). An estimated 28 percent of management analysts in the U.S. held master's degrees in 2010, and that number could grow over time. MBA programs cover a wide breadth of subjects, like marketing, statistics and economics. Some allow students to specialize in a particular area of business, like management.
Popular Schools in Pennsylvania for Earning a Master's Degree
The University of Pennsylvania is perhaps one of the state's best known and most respected schools. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report (usnews.com, 2013) ranked this college No. 8 in the nation. Several of its graduate programs have also earned special recognition. For instance, Penn's graduate-level nursing school is ranked No. 1 in the nation as of 2011 and its business program is No. 3 as of 2013.
Carnegie Mellon University is another of Pennsylvania's notable graduate schools. U.S. News & World Report ranked it No. 23 among all national colleges in 2012. As for its graduate-level programs, the institution is home to the highest-ranked computer science program in the country as of 2010, and the fifth ranked engineering program as of 2013.
School spirit at Penn State University has always been one of the institution's selling points, but its academic record is excellent as well. U.S. News & World Report ranked the school No. 46 in the nation in 2012, and it was home to a number of top-50 graduate programs. Among them: English, history, criminology and life science.
Employment Outlook in Pennsylvania
The BLS reports that as of July 2013, Pennsylvania's unemployment rate is only a point higher than the national average, and has been improving (bls.gov/eag, 2013). Some fields are growing faster than others, just as some tend to command better earnings. As noted earlier, software development and management analysis are growing fields that may prefer to hire graduates of Pennsylvania masters programs.
The BLS reports that Pennsylvania's 14,730 systems software developers earned an average annual salary of $95,200 in May 2012, and the PDLI projects that employment of these professionals will grow by 28 percent statewide between 2010 and 2020 (bls.gov/oes, 2013)(portal.state.pa.us, 2012). This is much faster than the average growth rate for all Pennsylvania occupations for the same period (6.4 percent).
Meanwhile, the BLS reports that Pennsylvania's 19,400 management analysts earned an average annual salary of $89,420 in May 2012 (bls.gov/oes, 2013). The PDLI projects that demand for these professionals will grow by about 10 percent between 2010 and 2020, adding nearly 700 new openings each year (portal.state.pa.us, 2012).
Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Long-Term Occupational Employment Projections, May, 2012, http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=814813&mode=2
Lumina Foundation, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, Pennsylvania, June 2013, http://www.luminafoundation.org/state/pennsylvania/
U.S. Department of Education, College Affordability and Transparency Center, 2011-12, http://collegecost.ed.gov/catc/
National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator, 2012, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator
U.S. News & World Report, National University Rankings, 2013, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economy at a Glance, Pennsylvania, Aug. 19, 2013 http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.pa.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2012 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates - Pennsylvania, March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_pa.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Management Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Software Developers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-Information-Technology/Software-developers
Penn State, University Bulletin, Master's Degrees, Accessed Aug. 20, 2013 http://bulletins.psu.edu/graduate/degreerequirements/masters
Penn Graduate School of Education, Class Profile: 2012-2013, Accessed Aug. 20, 2013, http://www.gse.upenn.edu/admissions_financial/classprofile