Five emerging fields of study

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The question we get asked most often is “what’s next?” As new technology, business practices, laws, and changes in the global economy are happening at breakneck speed, they’re creating needs for new and evolving occupations and career specialties. To meet these demands, we’ve provided a brief overview of what’s next — five innovative emerging fields of study that your institution should consider to help you stand out in a hyper-competitive online market.

In our evaluation, we scored fields of study based on a combination of the following key indicators of success:

  • Student demand
  • Employment opportunities
  • Competitive intensity
  • Search volume

Data Analytics & Artificial Intelligence

With the rise in “big data,” interest in data analytics roles have shown rapid growth. Schools that are testing how to go to market with AI offerings are increasing as well. Course work covers such topics as natural language processing, cybernetics, human factors, computing theory, computer science, cognitive psychology, and/or engineering.

Current examples in market

MS in Artificial Intelligence

Graduate Certificate in Artificial Intelligence

BS in Data Analytics

MS in Data Analytics

Graduate Certificate in Data Analytics

Substance Abuse Nursing

Every day, more than 115 people in the US die after overdosing on opioids. As the drug abuse epidemic continues, more qualified nurse practitioners are needed to tackle the problem head on. Substance Abuse Nurses must be able to monitor patient treatments, administer medications, speak with patients regarding aid programs, educate on the dangers of drugs, alcohol, or addiction, and provide support to patients.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) provides Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners the opportunity to demonstrate their nursing knowledge by completing various professional certifications. Some certifications are professional differentiators for nursing professional development, while others are required by the respective state laws for practice licensure. Qualifications to take certifying examinations differs per examination.

After becoming a credentialed nurse practitioner, one can differentiate themselves among job applicants by completing a program that offers specialized training in substance abuse, opioid treatment and/or addictions, and by working in a psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral health care center. The specialized training programs in substance abuse, opioid treatment, and addictions are offered through nursing, medical, psychology, and social science departments at colleges and universities, and can be taken online. These types of specialized programs may be at the undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, or graduate level, and are open to other professionals working to provide care to patients and clients needing assistance.

Current examples in market

Healthcare Innovation

As healthcare organizations face challenges to improve quality, access, and efficiencies, reduce harm, eliminate waste, and lower costs, innovation is becoming a necessity. A healthcare innovation program teaches change theory, leadership, entrepreneurship, application technology, and system design programs to create transformative solutions to current healthcare challenges.

Current examples in market

MS in Healthcare Innovation

Healthcare Innovation Courses

Financial Technology (Fintech)

A fintech program seeks to fill an important gap that exists today between the supply of and demand for academic knowledge in the area of digital currency. Financial analyst jobs in fintech are in great demand as startups continue to grow. Additionally, as the regulatory burden in fintech grows, there will be a need for more compliance experts, compliance officers, and compliance analysts working in these financial companies.

Current examples in market

MS in Fintech

Concentration in Fintech

Graduate Certificate in Fintech

Human Computer Interaction (HCI)/User Experience (UX)

User experience has emerged as one of the fastest growing specializations in today’s business world. It’s about finding that balance between what people want to do and what they haven’t even imagine yet. Interdisciplinary by definition, human computer interaction impacts nearly every area of our lives. The program reflects a broad recognition in academia and industry of the need to train researchers to meet the challenges created by today’s breakneck pace of technological progress.

Current examples in market



Concentration in UX

Graduate certificate

Take a deeper dive

In the recorded webinar, Emerging fields of study: How to identify key target markets to grow and compete online, we further explore:

  • how your institution can identify key markets
  • recommended criteria for entry, risk factors, and key success indicators
  • how Maryville University and Pearson partnered to successfully expand online offerings

Watch the webinar →

Research and analysis used to identify emerging fields of study

  • Review of new NCES CIP codes
  • Analysis of BLS Employment Projections to identify occupations slated to grow in the next 10 years
  • Review of national and syndicated data sources, like Burning Glass and TalentNeuron
  • Utilization of Google Trends to analyze the popularity of search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages over time
  • Review of institutional websites to identify new and emerging programs