Mastering tomorrow – what will business and students demand next?

tomorrow's masters report

There’s no doubt about the popularity of Masters degrees. Last year GMAC found that year-on-year applications had risen by 14.3% compared with 5.4% and 5.6% in the two previous years. The new Tomorrow’s Masters report, published by CarringtonCrisp and EFMD, found more of the same, with 55% more likely to pursue a Masters than they were a year ago.

Format of study

Although the headlines are positive, dig a little deeper and the picture is a little more complex. Students want a wide variety of subjects in a Masters degree and a growing range of ways in which they want to study. Tomorrow’s Masters found that just over two-thirds (68%) of the study respondents are seeking to study full-time, with a further 14% seeking part-time study; 18% are considering online or blended study. While part-time study remains at the same level as last year, interest in full-time study is down 6%, and interest in online/blended study is up by 6%.

Area of study

Not surprisingly, Big data/Business analytics is the most popular subject to study, selected by 21% of respondents in Tomorrow’s Masters; GMAC noted applications were rising fastest for a Masters of Data Analytics (up 34.2% year-on-year). Other popular subjects tend to be traditional topics, with 15% of the Tomorrow’s Masters sample interested in Finance and 14% wanting to study International Management/Business.

Growing numbers of business schools now have degrees specialising in data analytics or combining it with other subjects. While demand continues to grow, there should be opportunities for schools to develop programmes with good cohorts. However, many schools will want to know what comes next, helping them gain an advantage in the competitive Masters marketplace.

Trending areas of study

Examining the data from Tomorrow’s Masters, six areas of study appear to be on the rise. However, whether these prove to be a one year result or a longer trend remains to be seen – Healthcare, Luxury Management, Environment, Management Consultancy, Project Management and Technology Management. None of these subjects at the moment are sought by more than 8% of the respondents in Tomorrow’s Masters.

Yet, looking across wider society and business trends, some of these subjects certainly seem likely to be in demand. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen considerable innovation in the healthcare sector globally, providing more career opportunities. Similarly, environmental issues such as climate change are again likely to spur demand for staff. Technology Management has become more popular with start-ups and scale-ups across a host of sectors and Project Management has been consistently in demand for a number of years.

As the Masters market continues to grow there will undoubtedly be new topics sought by students, either as stand-alone subjects or specialisms within a general management degree. For business schools, especially those within large universities, there may be opportunities in collaboration with other faculties to rapidly scale up new degrees and attract a host of new students to these courses.


On 3 June, CarringtonCrisp will host a lunchtime webinar to review the findings from this year’s report. Learn more about the event here.