A sprinkle of imagination needed for tomorrow’s Master’s degree portfolio

23 May 2023

Andrew Crisp looks at what’s new and what might be disappearing from tomorrow’s Master’s degree portfolio.


What makes the optimum Master’s degree portfolio? Many schools will have a number of staples – a Master’s in Management or Business, perhaps with an international flavour, of course a Master’s in Finance, a Master’s in Accounting and a Master’s in Marketing. In recent years, a Master’s in Entrepreneurship, in Data Analytics and in Sustainability might have joined the roster.

The new Tomorrow’s Masters report, published with EFMD, suggests students want something more. Growing a Master’s portfolio also offers a business school a chance to differentiate its positioning in the business school marketplace.

Offered 54 degree subjects across four different groups, prospective Master’s students include both Finance and Economics in their top ten, but place them at 9th and 10th most popular. Instead, the top ten are dominated by technology – Digital Marketing (3rd), AI (4th), E-commerce (5th) and Data Analytics (6th) are all preferred by more than 30% of the 1755 respondents from more than 26 countries who responded to this year’s Tomorrow’s Masters study.

However, the two subjects chosen most often by the survey respondents are Business Forecasting and Modelling and Business Ethics. A wider view of content in Master’s degrees supports the choice of Business Ethics with students wanting degree content that covers global challenges (64%), ethical leadership behaviour (68%), responsible management (74%) and diversity and equality (75%).

Perhaps more surprising is that Master in Accounting degrees are only the equal 20th most popular choice in the Tomorrow’s Masters report. How long Accounting will remain in the top 20 is unclear as it was equally preferred alongside Behavioural Science, Construction Management, Corporate Social Responsibility and Technology Management, all chosen by 1 in 5 of the survey respondents.

The declining interest in accounting was a focus of a Financial Times article recently which suggested the USA would need more than 130,000 new accountants each year for the next decade, but had never had more than 80,000 Master’s in this field each year. One of the consequences is growing off-shore operations with BDO reporting in the article that it aims to have 5,000 people in its offshore operation within five years.

Finding the right Master’s portfolio for the next decade needs an understanding of what students want, what employers want, what society wants and a sprinkle of imagination to give a business school something special.

For more on Tomorrow’s Masters click here.

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