3 Top Master’s Degrees for Career Changers

Many people regularly consider changing careers, only to stall out because they don’t know how to make their goals a reality. But while transitioning into an unrelated career can be intimidating, it doesn’t need to be. As long as you have a solid plan, there’s no doubt you can reach your career goals.

One of the most important things to consider is whether or not you will need to earn a degree in order to pursue the career you’re interested in. While the answer to this question will depend on your goals, earning a degree can offer many benefits. Many employers prefer applicants who hold degrees in fields related to their line of work, even if they do not specifically “require” a degree. Likewise, advanced degrees translate into higher salaries and increased job demand.

Are you considering making a career change and looking for a master’s degree that will help you qualify for the job? Below, we look at three master’s degrees that are particularly well-suited for job changers.

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Best master’s degrees for changing careers

1. Master of Science in Computer Science

If you are interested in making the transition into a technical career, earning a degree such as a Master of Science in Computer Science can be an excellent way of gaining the foundational knowledge you’ll need for success.

One of the reasons that an MS in CS is such a great degree for career changers is that it opens up many lucrative career paths—you aren’t limited to a single job or title; instead, many options are available to you. Some of the highest-paying careers that an MS in CS can prepare you for include:

By earning your master’s degree in computer science at Northeastern University, you’ll able to choose courses from any of three specialized areas: systems and software, theory and security, and artificial intelligence and data science. These in-demand specializations can be a great way to explore new areas of technology and develop valuable skills and expertise.

If you’re coming from a completely nontechnical background, there are MS in CS programs designed specifically for career changers. These programs are structured in a way that quickly teaches you the basics before pivoting to the core curriculum. At Northeastern, for example, the Align Master of Science in Computer Science includes “academic bridge courses” that prepare you for advanced graduate-level coursework in program design, computer systems, software development, and a range of electives.

2. Master of Science in Data Science

With each passing year, data becomes more and more critical to our society. The businesses that collect the most data, know how to interpret it, and properly leverage it will be more successful in the long term. This new reality in business success makes a Master of Science in Data Science an excellent degree choice for career changers interested in data and analytics.

A Master of Science in Data Science doesn’t just prepare an individual for a single career path. Some of the most in-demand big data jobs include:

In addition to high salaries, an MS in Data Science offers increased job demand and job security. In 2023, U.S. News & World Report ranked several data science-related roles within its list of top jobs, and demand and salaries are expected to continue rising as more companies turn to data-driven decision-making. These factors all point to a very positive ROI for earning an MS in Data Science.

There are specialized MS in Data Science programs specifically designed for career changers as well. Northeastern offer the Align Master’s in Data Science, which will teach you the skills to harness the power of data, even without a tech background. Two bridge semesters prepare you for the graduate-level coursework that you’ll need to earn your degree, and in 2.5 years, you will have the skills and expertise required for a career in data science.

3. Master of Science in Project Management

If you enjoy bringing a project or initiative from inception to completion, you may want to consider pursuing a career in project management. The field of project management is perfect for anyone with a passion for delegation, organization, and communication. While it’s possible to become a project manager without a degree, earning a Master of Science in Project Management is one of the most efficient ways of learning the ins and outs of the role. It can also help you stand out from the competition who may not have a degree.

Of the degrees discussed here, the MS in Project Management is the one that most clearly aligns with a single job title: project manager. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t have career options. Project managers are employed in virtually every industry, including construction, product design, pharmaceutical sciences, technology, and more.

Across all industries, project management professionals earn a median salary of $98,580, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Project Management Institute reports that the vast majority of project managers in the United States earn between $93,000 and $140,000 per year. By 2027, it’s estimated that an additional 22 million project management jobs will be added worldwide, leading to increased job demand and security.

The mission of the Master of Science in Project Management at Northeastern is to prepare learners to apply project management processes and arm them with the technical, professional, and strategic expertise necessary for managing projects successfully. With an emphasis on experiential learning, the program provides dynamic opportunities for learners with varying degrees of work experience to practice their knowledge globally and collaboratively while applying traditional and innovative project management concepts to real-life, complex projects.

Options for every path

It’s important to note that while the three degrees discussed above are particularly well-suited for career changers, they are by no means the only options to consider. Regardless of the specific career you are interested in transitioning into, there is likely a degree that can help you quickly learn the ropes and enter the field from a position of strength.

Get in touch with an enrollment counselor to learn more about Northeastern’s career-changing opportunities and find the right program for your interests and goals.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2022. It has since been updated for relevance and accuracy.