Graduate Market Overview: Business

Last updated on: October 10, 2023

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The business market continues to be the most popular graduate discipline, making up nearly one quarter of all master’s-level graduates in 2016. While the MBA market alone represents two-thirds of business graduates, find out which other business-related master’s programs are seeing growth or decline in our Market Overview which investigates the trends happening in the graduate business market.

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Market Overview: Business, Management, Marketing & Related Fields

Market Overview: Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Fields

Key trends, takeaways, programmatic insights

Business, Management, Marketing, and related fields make up the largest master’s-level discipline, with nearly 190,000 graduates in 2016.

The MBA market alone represents two-thirds of these graduates–it is the largest single degree in this field.

Business and business-related programs continue to be the most popular graduate degrees. Below is a breakdown of the numbers to inform key trends and opportunities.

2016 U.S. Masters Degrees Awarded by Discipline:

Business: 189,435
Education: 148,627
Health: 111,156
Engineering: 52,775
Public Admin and Social Service: 47,089
Computer and Info Sciences: 40,410
Psychology: 28,163
Other: 179,106

Number of Graduates in Business-Related Programs from 2010-2016

2010: 159,308
2011: 168,308
2012: 173,810
2013: 180,349
2014: 190,596
2015: 187,540
2016: 189,435

Total Growth Over 6 Years: 19%

Number of Institutions Reporting Graduates from 2010-2016

2010: 1,120
2011: 1,145
2012: 1,178
2013: 1,237
2014: 1,302
2015: 1,329
2016: 1,336

Total Growth Over 6 Years: 19%

Average Students Per Institution from 2010-2016

2010: 142
2011: 147
2012: 148
2013: 146
2014: 146
2015: 141
2016: 142

Total Growth Over 6 Years: 0%

Program Growth: Distance vs. Ground


2012: 2,420
2013: 2,549
2014: 2,586
2015: 2,627
2016: 2,539


2012: 787 25% of total
2013: 1,030 29% of total
2014: 1,225 32% of total
2015: 919 34% of total
2016: 1,559 38% of total

Total Distance Growth: 98%
Total Ground Growth: 5%

Key Takeaways:
The growth of graduates has been essentially flat the last three years (after a four-year period of slow and steady growth). (2010-2016)

Competition is rising by 3% per year, translating to no growth in average program sizes across the market since 2010.

38% of programs are online, and more than a third of them are MBAs.

Competition among online programs is growing at 19% per year.

Program Area Insights:
MBA: Competitive, but stable. Very large, very little organic growth
Accounting: Emerging opportunity
Finance: Opportunities for the right programs and brand
Human Resources: Growing, but saturated
Leadership: Very competitive
Management Science (Data Analytics): Small, but growing rapidly

While Business, Management, Marketing, and related fields still offer robust opportunities for new or expanded programs, ongoing changes mean an understanding of trends and growth in the discipline is vital for success. Wiley University Services can help you identify which programs can be most successful for your institution.

Source: The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

For more graduate market insights, such as an overview of the graduate education market, visit our Resources page to choose from a variety of other higher education topics.

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