Schools Now Offering Specialized Degrees to Help Students Get Hired in Emerging Fields

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If you’re a job seeker looking to expand your career options, you may want to think about going back to school for a specialized degree to boost your resume.

A number of colleges and universities are now offering specialized courses or programs designed to help students get hired in emerging fields such as health care, technology and business management.

–  Best jobs of 2012

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the best jobs in the U.S. based on environment, income and hiring outlook include software engineer, dental hygienist, occupational therapist and computer systems analyst.

James Finegan, director of career development and employment services at Gannon University in Pennsylvania, told the Erie Times-News that the most successful graduates have been those who have pursued a career in technology, with a 95% placement rate for those who added a computer science degree on their resume.

– Look for hybrid or specialized degrees

Many colleges have tweaked their degree offerings to focus on today’s challenging work environment.  These multi-disciplinary, job-focused programs often involve a mixture of management courses along with industry-specific content designed to help students think more creatively, according to Reuters.

Many institutions are seeing economic difficulties as an opportunity, and there’s been an acceleration in interdisciplinary programs, Debra Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, told the news agency. She said many of these new programs are a response to the improving but still tough economy.

Steward said students and schools are looking for ways to stand out in a tight market.

It’s hard to distinguish one MBA from another, Blair Johnson, a lecturer at Johns Hopkins, added. “People are looking for much more customized programs.”
You may want to consider taking an online aptitude test to determine which career path you best matches your skill set.

–  Consider future growth

Although there are no job placement rates for many of the brand new programs being offered at colleges around the country, you may want to start to do your own research into which emerging fields will experience the largest growth in the future.

Students will also need to evaluate whether they could get the same training and experience by adding job-focused extras to their resumes, or by double majoring as an undergraduate.

Christopher Morphew, a professor of educational policy at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, told Reuters that many of the newer programs may in fact be “marketing: the curriculum may not be new but it has a new sexy name on it.”

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