Private universities lead in meeting workforce needs with master’s degrees
When universities offer master’s degrees, they help students get ahead in their careers while ensuring employers find candidates with the advanced skills they seek. After years of focusing on meeting market needs for this kind of post-baccalaureate education, Minnesota Private College Council (MPCC) institutions award more master’s degrees than either of the two public university systems.
Minnesota’s reputation for prioritizing education helps attract and retain people and employers — and master’s degree programs strengthen the education level of our workforce, which is so important in today’s economy, noted Sue Huber, provost at the University of St. Thomas.
St. Thomas is one of 11 MPCC institutions offering master’s degrees. After starting in 1950 with its first graduate education program — a master’s in education — St. Thomas now offers 63 different graduate programs in seven different schools. Change has been a constant in master’s education; St. Thomas for example started its first two fully online master’s programs this academic year. “We listen to what employers say they want, we’re responding to their needs and working hand in hand with them,” Huber said. “We want students to graduate to something. If we didn’t offer programs that relate to what employers need, students would really be out of the running.”
Career advancement is the top reason students enroll in master’s programs, Huber said. Students need considerable drive and curiosity to be able to succeed in these programs, which are often pursued by students who are balancing careers and family obligations.
While MPCC members awarded 41% of the state's 10,324 master’s degrees, in many disciplines the share of degrees was much higher. For example, our institutions awarded 100% of library sciences degrees, 53% of homeland security/law enforcement degrees, 53% of public administration degrees, 52% of education degrees and 48% of business degrees.
“I think the nonprofit colleges are very focused on teaching and relationship building with students, along with personal engagement and networking,” Huber said.