Degrees That Pack a Punch


Learn which five degrees pack the biggest punch in today's competitive world.

By Chris Kyle    

Thinking about going back to school to get a degree? As the Romans might say: "Scientia potentia est."

That's Latin for "Knowledge is power."

Fortunately, you don't need to study Latin to get a degree that packs a punch with employers. In fact, if you're interested in a career-minded degree, Latin probably won't be your first pick...or second or third.

Keep reading to learn more about five degrees that could help you command the attention of employers.

#1 Degree - Bachelor's in Business Administration

Interested in preparing for a field known for power lunches and power suits? You may want to begin by studying business administration at the bachelor's level.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2011 Job Outlook, nearly 52 percent of employers plan on hiring new graduates with a bachelor's in business administration.

Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

While individual business administration programs will vary, you'll likely cover everything from accounting and entrepreneurship to international trade and marketing strategies.

Powerful Potential: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a bachelor's in business administration could help prepare you for a career as a marketing specialist (average salary: $66,850) or a financial analyst ($86,040). Human resources specialist ($57,830) is another possibility, the Department says.*

#2 Degree - Bachelor's in Nursing

Health care, as we all know, is a massive industry. But did you know that registered nurses make up its largest occupation at 2.6 million strong?

That fact comes courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor. Just note that schools may require that students already be registered nurses to enroll. Looking ahead, the Department projects that 581,500 new registered nursing jobs will be added between 2008 and 2018.

Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.

Powerful Potential: According to the Department of Labor, registered nurses have an average salary of $67,720 per year, and many employers offer flexible work schedules, child care, educational benefits, and bonuses.*

#3 Degree - Master's in Business Administration

For a degree with a powerful earning potential, a master's in business administration (MBA) could be your best bet. The median starting salary for 2010 MBA grads was $78,820, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.

Employment prospects are also strong for MBA grads. Nearly 76 percent of 2010 MBA graduates were hired within three months of graduation, up from 70.8 percent in 2009, according to a study of career placement data by U.S. News.

Click to Find the Right MBA Program.

Already know which industry you want to target? Some MBA programs also allow students to specialize in areas like technology or health care administration, which could give your career prospects a boost.

Powerful Potential: Many companies prefer candidates with an MBA when hiring for management roles, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This includes positions like general manager (average salary: $113,100), sales manager ($114,110), and marketing manager ($122,720).*

#4 Degree - Bachelor's in Computer Science

Looking for a degree that's in-demand? You may want to power up by studying computer science.

According to NACE's 2011 Job Outlook, nearly 53 percent of employers plan on hiring a new grad with a bachelor's degree in computer science.

Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

NACE also reports that computer science grads received the highest average signing bonus ($4,000) among all bachelor's degree holders in 2011.

Powerful Potential: Computer science grads have a median salary of $75,000, according to a 2011 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Not surprisingly, the study concluded that the vast majority of computer science grads find careers in the computer services industry.

#5 Degree - Bachelor's in Management

Want a degree that could prove powerful in today's market? Consider earning a bachelor's in management.

Studying management can help you gain a top-to-bottom understanding of what it takes to work in organizations of all sizes. By gaining insight into different management techniques and theories, you'll hopefully collect skills that will help you climb the corporate ladder in your own career.

Click to Find the Right Management Program.

Powerful Potential: According to a 2011 Georgetown study that broke down the earning power of 171 different majors, bachelor's degree holders in management have average earnings of $58,000. Management analysts, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, have an average income of $87,260.*

*Average earnings information, unless otherwise noted, comes from the U.S. Department of Labor using May 2010 data.

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