Let’s get personal

07 July 2024

Andrew Crisp takes a look at the personal side of what students want from a Master’s degree.


A business Master’s degree is not one-dimensional, there are a host of reasons that motivate students to learn.  Of course, career is important for many, whether that’s developing advanced skills on the back of a similar undergraduate degree or moving in a new direction.  However, the overwhelming message from this year’s Tomorrow’s Master’s report is one of personalisation.

Offered 59 different degree titles, the top choice, selected by 35% of the respondents, was Investment and Banking.  Just over a third of the potential market choosing one subject out of 59 represents sizeable demand and suggests a degree in this field will be well received by prospective students, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

Investment and Banking is an enormous field, some will want fintech as part of their studies, others will seek ESG investing, some will want corporate finance, and others will be interested in retail banking.  There’s space in the market for a wide variety of investment and banking degrees and a business school can develop a reputation in a niche, but still find a sizeable market.

Even at the bottom of the list of 59 business Master’s degrees, Public Sector Management is an option for 7% of the study respondents.  In the UK in 2021/22, there were 181,600 students taking business and management Master’s degrees, and while the 7% doesn’t translate directly to 12,712 students for Public Sector Management (in the survey students could choose more than one degree title that they would consider), it does suggest more than enough demand for several schools to offer degrees in this field.

However, personalisation is about more than degree choice.  It’s also about career ambitions.  Asked what they consider the most important career services expected from a business school, respondents put coaching and mentor programmes second and third on the list, behind generic career development workshops.

Both coaching and mentor programmes speak to individuals seeking a personal approach to their career development.  Just as one student might choose fintech and a second picks ESG in an investment and banking degree, so their career ambitions will also be different.  If a business school can provide individual support to help different students meet their ambitions, the school will be more attractive to prospective students.

For the school, the challenge is how to deliver personalised support at an affordable price.  One solution is to engage alumni.  Alumni who have developed careers in certain fields will have an authentic experience to share with current students, including an understanding of the barriers to success in their career.  Giving a little time to help a current student advance is often a lot easier than making a financial donation, and often is personally more rewarding.


To find out more about the new Tomorrow’s Master’s report, take a look here.

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