Graduate Market Overview: Education

Last updated on: October 10, 2023

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The graduate education market is showing decline, however certain programs show strong potential for growth. Find out which ones in our Market Overview, which investigates the trends happening in the graduate education market. Click the image below to view the full infographic.

Market Overview: Education

Key trends, takeaways, programmatic insights

Education was the largest discipline for graduate programs as recently as 2010, but it is now second and soon will likely be eclipsed by Health.

Although it’s one of the largest disciplines among graduate degrees, in recent years the number of education graduates has steadily declined. There are still opportunities for growth, but it’s important institutions make informed decisions about program offerings.

2016 U.S. Masters Degrees Awarded by Discipline:

Education: 148,627
Business: 189,435
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 Education Programs from 2010-2016

2010: 177,414
2011: 181,309
2012: 176,444
2013: 164,076
2014: 157,266
2015: 149,236
2016: 148,627

Total Growth Over 6 Years: -16%

Number of Institutions Reporting Graduates from 2010-2016

2010: 1,156
2011: 1,172
2012: 1,201
2013: 1,243
2014: 1,259
2015: 1,263
2016: 1,277

Total Growth Over 6 Years: 10%

Average Students Per Institution from 2010-2016

2010: 153
2011: 155
2012: 142
2013: 130
2014: 125
2015: 118
2016: 116

Total Growth Over 6 Years: -24%

Program Growth: Distance vs. Ground


2012: 6,033
2013: 6,069
2014: 6,133
2015: 6,123
2016: 5,997


2012: 1,064 15% of total
2013: 1,365 18% of total
2014: 1,496 20% of total
2015: 1,715 22% of total
2016: 1,850 24% of total
Total Distance Growth: 74%
Total Ground Change: -1%
Total Graduates in 2016: 148,627

Key Trends and Takeaways:

24% of education programs are online

Competition among online education programs is growing at 15% per year

The discipline has seen a declining rate of graduates (-3% per year)

At the same time, competition among programs (distance and ground) is increasing by 2% per year, resulting in smaller program sizes on average.

Degree Insights:

Instructional Design: Very competitive
Teaching ESL: Very Competitive
Certificate: Growth in Many Areas

In Decline:

Special Education: Some Areas of Growth
Curriculum and Instruction: Still a Large Market
Educational Administration: Still a Large Market

Wiley University Services constantly analyzes the latest research to develop strategic plans for our partners. By identifying the right programs for each institution, we ensure that resources are invested wisely and that educational offerings are aligned with students’ needs and market trends.

Source: The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

For more market insights, see our article on which programs in the five largest discipline areas show the greatest amount of potential in the online space. You can also visit our Resources page to choose from a variety of other higher education topics.

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