The Master in Marketing is the world's most in-demand master's degree, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council's (GMAC) Application Trends Survey, with 59% of programs globally reporting an increase in applications in 2021.
Other specialized business masters in finance, accounting, supply chain management, data analytics, and information technology also saw increasing numbers of applications. There was similar growth in demand for the generalist Master in Management (MiM) degree.
Overall, 42% of business masters degrees saw an increase in applications in 2021, down from 67% in 2020 when business school applications soared after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Application growth fell mostly in the US and the UK, while there was large growth in the Asia Pacific region (68%) and Canada (80%).
Applications from international students have bounced back following the easing of restrictions on international travel, driving 55% of applications worldwide.
Here are the most in-demand masters degrees in 2021:
7. Master in Accounting
The Master in Accounting (MAcc) teaches skills and expertise aiming to help you land a role in the accountancy or finance sectors after graduation.
A MAcc degree can be a route into a top bank or a Big Four accounting firm, but you may have to complete a further Certified Public Accountancy (CPA) qualification before launching your career. Along with the highly specialized nature of the course, this often means demand for MAcc degrees is lower than other business masters.
In 2021, applications to MAcc programs grew by 32%—lower than any other program type—at a similar rate to levels seen before the pandemic and 2020’s application boom.
MAcc degrees are more popular among men; in 2021 male applications rose by 45% compared with 33% for women. They're also more popular among domestic candidates, domestic applications rose by 50% while international applications were far lower at 29%.
6. Master in Finance
A Master in Finance is a highly regarded specialized masters, offered by some of the world's most prestigious business schools. Graduating from an MiF can help you secure a job in lucrative industries like investment banking, consulting, asset management, and trading.
It's usually one of the hottest masters degrees—the MiF was the second most in-demand degree type in 2020—but demand fell sharply in 2021.
Finance is renowned as an intensive and highly demanding sector, which may be deterring applications as students choose industries with greater work-life balance. In 2021, MiF applications rose by a below-average 36%.
Masters in Finance were also more popular among domestic applicants (44%), than international (41%), and demand was higher among men. Male applications rose by 40%, while women rose by 36%.
5. Master of Supply Chain Management
The specialized Master of Supply Chain Management teaches students the fundamentals of logistics management, including procurement, packaging, storage, and dispatch of goods.
The importance of supply chains was shown during the pandemic when global supply chains were hit, causing widespread disruption and showing the demand for expertise in the sector. This may have contributed to the program's growing popularity. In 2021, applications for supply chain masters increased by 46%.
The survey shows the MSc in Supply Chain is more popular among female applicants. Applications from women rose by 50%, compared with 45% for men. It's also more popular among domestic applicants, whose application numbers grew by 50%, while international applications rose by 45%.
4. Master of Data Analytics
The Master of Data Analytics teaches students to use technical expertise and analytics skills to make data-led business decisions. The program has proved popular with students looking to kickstart a career in digital transformation and in 2017 it was the most in-demand masters degree.
But demand has fallen as more established programs like the MiM and MiF have incorporated data and analysis skills into their curricula. In 2021, the Master of Data Analytics is the fourth most in-demand business masters. Applications grew by 47%, which is lower than the growth rate seen before the pandemic.
The program sees more popularity with international students; international applications rose by 52%, with domestic applications trailing close behind at 44%. More men also applied to Masters in Data Analytics than women in 2021, with application numbers rising by 44% compared with 39%.