In honor of Women’s History Month, one of my Kaplan colleagues sent me a recent article on the most popular master’s degrees, broken down by gender. While you might expect these lists to be very different, what jumped out at me were the following two data points:
- The MBA is the most popular degree for both men and women.
However, the percentage of each group that pursues this degree is very different: 22.3% of men get an MBA, while only 11.4% of women do.
- Various degrees in education appeared multiple times in the top 5 lists of most popular degrees for both men and women.
Once again, though, there is a big difference between the specific degrees that men and women obtain. For example, men are more likely to get a degree in Education Leadership and Administration (#4 on the men’s list, with 2.7%), while women are more likely to get degrees in Elementary Education or Curriculum & Instruction (#4 and #5, respectively, on the women’s list, with 3.8% and 3.6%).
What do those numbers say to me? One very important thing:
3.6% of women or 2.7% of men (for example) may not sound like a lot of people, but those percentages represent thousands upon thousands of people competing for spots at the same programs that you want to attend. And even if you’re pursuing a less-popular degree, that doesn’t take any of the pressure off – those programs tend to be smaller by nature, so schools still have the power to be very selective in whom they choose to accept.
So what’s the best way to make yourself stand out of the crowd and gain acceptance to the program of your choice? The two biggest factors are:
- Your GRE scores: This is the measuring stick by which admissions committees can evaluate all candidates, regardless of their backgrounds. Simply put: Schools take it seriously, and so should you.
- Your personal statement: This is your first, and often only, opportunity to communicate directly to admissions officers – make sure that it’s compelling.
And if you’re just now at the beginning of the grad school research process, also make sure to check out my recent entry on how to road-map your applications.
What are you planning to go to grad school for? What career are you hoping to pursue with your degree? Let us know in the comments!