42% of all master’s degrees awarded by Minnesota’s private colleges
When most people think of Minnesota’s private colleges, they often think of undergraduate degrees, yet 12 of the 17 institutions that are members of the Minnesota Private College Council also award graduate degrees.
“Minnesota's private colleges are quite responsive to adult learners, especially those who work full time and need evening courses and accelerated programs,” said Gena Bilden, associate vice president for enrollment management for the Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota.
St. Catherine University MBA program director, Michelle Weiser, echoes that assessment. “There are so many great benefits of pursuing graduate education at a private college or university — the smaller class sizes, tighter connections to faculty, and opportunity to really build lasting connections with other students are just a few. Often the smaller size of many of the graduate programs at private colleges allows them to be more nimble and responsive to the needs of the marketplace.”
In 2013-14, 42% of all 10,500 master’s degrees earned in Minnesota were earned from Minnesota’s private colleges compared to 33% from the University of Minnesota and 17% from the MnSCU 4-year universities. The percentage for students of color is even higher — 44% to the University of Minnesota’s 30% and MnSCU’s 14%. Nearly 80% of all master’s degrees awarded by our institutions were to students who attend the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas, Concordia University (St. Paul), Hamline University or St. Catherine University.
In certain disciplines, our private colleges award an even larger percentage of the master’s degrees in Minnesota — and the areas of study may surprise you:
- 62% of homeland security degrees
- 55% of education degrees
- 51% of computer science degrees
- 51% of public administration and social service degrees
- 48% of business degrees
In addition, three graduate fields of study — education, business and health — each had more than 500 graduates.
“While potential for higher income is one reason many students choose to obtain a master's degree, others are changing careers,” said Bilden. “They may have pursued one area in their bachelor's degree but later discovered a passion for another area. This is especially true in fields such as heath care.
“Meeting licensure requirements for changing careers or career advancement is another reason to pursue a master's degree ... The master's degree often requires only a few more classes beyond licensure preparation.”
But the benefit of attending a private college goes beyond economic reasons. "Our students enrich themselves in scholarly learning and are expected to conduct original, graduate-level research,” said Greg Steenson, associate dean of admission and market development at St. Catherine University. “Our graduate students often take the research-based knowledge they learn one day into the workplace the very next day."