With a prime location in the northeastern part of the United States, Maryland has plenty to offer in terms of higher education and educational attainment. As of 2013, 46 percent Maryland adults ages 25-64 held at least a two-year degree, compared to just 40 percent nationally. And the state's educated population is growing. In 2008, just 43.9 percent of Maryland adults held a two-year degree, and the percentage has increased every year since.
A recent report from the Lumina Foundation breaks the numbers down further to reveal more about the state's commitment to higher education. As of 2013, for example, 6.75 percent of Maryland adults held an associate degree, 21.82 percent had their bachelor's, and 17.38 percent held a graduate or professional degree. Still, there is room for improvement. That same year, 24.34 percent of adults held just a high school diploma, and another 20.38 percent had some college experience, but no degree.
Fortunately, students who want to continue learning will find plenty of opportunities for on-campus and online education in Maryland. The National Center for Education Statistics lists 104 colleges, universities, trade schools, and career centers as active in the state, including some institutions that offer online degree programs. Continue reading to learn more about higher education in Maryland, plus interesting facts about the state's economy and culture.
Why Should I Earn a Degree in Maryland?
Maryland boasts a slew of economic activity, a large workforce, and higher than average mean annual wages. As of 2014, approximately 2,557,510 workers were employed in the state, earning a mean annual wage of $53,470. However, certain professions for college-educated workers featured much higher pay and particularly high levels of employment. The following chart highlights some of those careers:
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||408,340||$39,810|
|Sales and Related Occupations||265,250||$40,950|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||217,820||$24,650|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||170,140||$85,430|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||169,360||$63,440|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||163,600||$38,560|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||163,090||$80,050|
|Computer and Mathematical Occupations||123,660||$96,800|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||115,570||$48,520|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||100,590||$50,230|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||85,440||$28,520|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||78,460||$28,950|
Although Maryland is one of the smallest states in terms of area, it is one of the most densely populated. Meanwhile, its proximity to other states' large metro regions means that it shares some of its major metropolitan areas. As of 2015, the largest metropolitan areas in Maryland and surrounding states include the Baltimore-Washington metro area, the Cumberland MD-WV metropolitan statistical area, the Hagerstown metro area, and the Salisbury metro area.
With a border that is interrupted by the nation's capital, Washington D.C., Maryland has become a center for commerce and economic activity. Key industries include aerospace and defense, energy and sustainability, life sciences, IT and cybersecurity, and manufacturing. Meanwhile, major employers include the Defense Information Systems Agency, the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, National Cancer Institute at Ft. Detrick, and the U.S. Cyber Command at Ft. Meade. According to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, Maryland is also home to 400 groundbreaking research centers, 50 federal agencies, and 12 major military installations.
Although the state's economy continues to grow, certain industries are expected to see more growth than others. The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation predicts that the following industries will see exceptional growth during the decade leading up to 2022:
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: 17.58 percent
- Administrative and Support, Waste Management, and Remediation Services: 12.26 percent
- Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation: 10.00 percent
- Educational Services: 9.44 percent
- Healthcare and Social Assistance: 9.38 percent
In addition to a healthy economy, a strong infrastructure of colleges and universities exists in the state. Here's how Maryland's 104 colleges, universities, and trade schools break down, by type:
- Public, 4-year: 14
- Public, 2-year: 16
- Private nonprofit, 4-year: 21
- Private nonprofit, 2-year: 0
- Private for-profit, 4-year: 10
- Private for-profit, 2-year: 10
- Less-than-two-year institutions: 36
While many colleges focus on traditional education, others offer flexible, hybrid, and online degrees in Maryland. These programs can make higher education more attainable, since they tend to break down geographic barriers and increase educational access for more students.
Furthermore, higher education in Maryland may be more affordable than you think. As of the 2014-15 school year, tuition and fees for the state's four-year, public schools averaged out to only $8,724, according to College Board Statistics.
Still, beyond higher education and jobs, Maryland has so much more to offer prospective students. With a location next to the Atlantic Ocean, a front row seat to our nation's political system, and history deeply rooted in American culture and ideals, Maryland has something for everyone. Here are a few interesting facts about the state you probably didn't know:
- Somehow, Maryland managed to combine poetry and football. Who would have thought? Although it isn't advertised, the Baltimore Ravens were named after Edgar Allen Poe's famous poem, The Raven.
- Maryland was one of the two states that gave up land for the creation of the nation's capital, Washington D.C. The land was donated in 1790.
- Seafood lovers, unite! Maryland is the nation's top producer of blue crab and soft clams.
- The state's capital, Annapolis, is known as the sailing capital of the world.
- Although it isn't common knowledge, Maryland has more hot springs than any other state in the nation. In total, the state has over 300 naturally occurring warm-water gems.
What Makes Maryland Ideal for Online Education?
In a densely populated state such as Maryland, online education can make degree attainment easier to come by. Without having to commute to school, relocate near campus, or be present in a physical classroom, Maryland students who couldn't previous pursue an education can now start a degree program or finish one they already started.
According to Kara Van Dam, Provost for the learner and faculty experience at University of Maryland University College, many online programs in the state are geared toward non-traditional students -- the kind that can truly benefit from the flexibility online degrees offer. Online education tends to be ideal for these students because they are usually juggling jobs and families while attending school.
""Working adults typically do not want the traditional campus experience and are looking for workforce-relevant degree programs that will accelerate their career,"" notes Van Dam, adding that areas such as ""cybersecurity, healthcare and science, public safety, education, IT and computer science, and business management"" are popular among online students.
Further, online education in Maryland can expose these students to modern technologies they may eventually use in the workplace. These new technologies offer the opportunity to engage with your classmates and faculty in an enriching way, through active learning and in-depth discussions and collaboration. It just so happens that this engagement takes place online.
In conclusion, distance learning in Maryland is ideal because it breaks down the barriers to higher education for non-traditional students and others who want to learn at their own pace. Further, online degrees are perfect for students who already began their education, but need some flexibility in order to finish.
According to Van Dam, that's especially true at the University of Maryland University College, where many of their students transfer from community colleges.
To attract more potential completers, UMUC recently launched the UMUC Completion Scholarship, which Van Dam says ""offers Maryland community college graduates the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree for $20,000 including the cost of the Associate's degree.""
Top 10 Degrees in Maryland
While plenty of industries are expected to see exceptional growth in the coming years, certain careers may offer more opportunity than others. With that in mind, we relied on wage data and employment predictions from state sources to create this list of top college degrees in Maryland:
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Like many fields in health care, sonography and ultrasound science continues to grow. That could make a degree in diagnostic medical sonography particularly lucrative. According to U.S. Department of Labor data, employment of these professionals is expected to increase 32.7 percent in Maryland from 2012 to 2022. Even better, these workers earn exceptionally high pay for having just a two-year degree. In 2014, diagnostic medical sonographers in the state earned a mean annual wage of $72,760.
A degree in marketing could lead to a rewarding career as a marketing specialist or market research analyst. Because businesses will always need experts to market and sell their products or services, employment is on the rise for these careers. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that job openings for market research analysts and marketing specialists in Maryland will increase 27.8 percent from 2012 to 2022. These workers earned a mean annual wage of $66,820 in 2014, which helps make this degree choice a profitable option.
Occupational Therapy Assistant
A two-year degree in occupational therapy assisting from an accredited school could help prepare you for a career in this growing field. With overall demand for occupational therapy on the rise, employment of occupational therapy assistants in Maryland is expected to surge 26.6 percent from 2012 to 2022. Meanwhile, workers in this occupation earned a healthy mean annual wage of $65,250 in 2013.
Maryland's location near the Atlantic Ocean and some of the nation's largest cities makes it the perfect spot for a career in logistics. Employment of logisticians is expected to increase 24.4 percent in Maryland from 2012 to 2022. A mean annual wage of $87,330 in 2014 also solidifies this option as a profitable degree choice.
Physical Therapy Assistant
Skilled health care professionals are needed in a wide range of fields, and physical therapy is no exception. Due to growing demand for this type of treatment, job openings for physical therapy assistants are expected to increase 19.2 percent in Maryland through 2022. For a two-year degree, this choice offers relatively high pay in return. As of 2014, physical therapy assistants in Maryland earned a mean annual wage of $56,310.
A two-year degree in veterinary technology can lead to a fast-paced career in a veterinarian's office. Job openings for veterinary technologists and technicians in Maryland are expected to increase 17 percent from 2012 to 2022. Meanwhile, employment of veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers is expected to increase 16 percent during the same timeframe. Students who pursue veterinary technology degrees may earn relatively high pay as well. As of 2014, veterinary technologists and technicians in Maryland earned a mean annual wage of $33,370, or $16.04 per hour.
Physicians are seeing a surge in patients in Maryland, with many hiring assistants to help manage their patient loads. Because of this, employment of physician assistants is expected to increase 16.7 percent in Maryland from 2012 to 2022. High pay also adds to the allure of this degree choice. In 2014, physician assistants in Maryland earned a mean annual wage of $84,550.
Civil engineers oversee the building of the bridges, airports, tunnels, and dams we all rely on. Because of ongoing construction in Maryland, these workers are in demand. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that jobs for civil engineers will increase 15.6 percent in the state from 2012 to 2022. A mean annual wage of $86,730 for these workers in Maryland in 2014 also adds to the value of this degree choice.
A degree in computer science can lead to a number of growing careers in the state. Several are expected to see exceptional growth during the coming decade, including information security analyst (14 percent), computer programmers (13 percent), and computer network architect (13 percent). And careers associated with this degree choice tend to pay well. For example, information security analysts in Maryland earned a mean annual wage of $101,010 in 2014.
A degree in landscape architecture could lead to a career as a designer of landscapes and outdoor scenes for businesses and individuals. Because of the demand for exceptional work in this field, employment of landscape architects is expected to increase 13 percent in Maryland from 2012 to 2022. High pay also adds to the potential ROI of this degree choice. As of 2014, landscape architects in Maryland earned a mean annual wage of $79,050.
Top Cities for Maryland College Students
With a population of 622,793 in 2014, Baltimore is Maryland's largest city by far. Key industries in the area include cybersecurity, defense contracting, information technology, biosciences, higher education, and health care.
Through 2013, just 26.8 percent of Baltimore adults held at least a bachelor's degree. However, 80.2 percent had their high school diploma. Low housing costs have helped keep Baltimore affordable, however. The median housing value in 2013 was $157,900, compared to $292,700 on the national level.
The National Center for Education Statistics lists 25 institutions of higher education as active in the Baltimore area, including these top schools:
University of Baltimore
Home to roughly 6,422 students, the University of Baltimore offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including doctoral degrees. With a focus on business, information technology, and health care, it offers students the best in instruction and quality. Tuition and fees for in-state students averaged out to $8,018 for the 2014-15 school year, and the school is known for the following programs:
- Online Master of Public Administration
- Online Master of Business Administration
- Bachelor of Arts in Digital Communication
Loyola University Maryland
Loyola University in Maryland offers majors and minors in more than 40 academic fields. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year were $44,090, and the schools offers undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees all the way up to the doctoral level. Here are some of Loyola's popular degree options:
- Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media
- Bachelor of Science in Mathematics
- Bachelor of Science in Operations Research
John Hopkins University
John Hopkins University is a premier institution for academic research. With 21,372 students in 2014, JHU was also one of the biggest institutions in the area that year. Students who choose John Hopkins can pursue certificate programs, undergraduate degrees, and graduate degrees. Tuition for the 2014-15 school year was $47,060, and these are a few of their top programs:
- Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering
- Bachelor's degree in Computational Medicine
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Frederick is Maryland's second largest city, boasting a population of 68,400 in 2014. With its own airport, several military installations, and large employers like Wells Fargo, United Healthcare, and the Frederick Memorial Healthcare System, Frederick offers plenty in terms of jobs and economic opportunity. Meanwhile, the Frederick Historic District is known for its share of nightly entertainment, dining venues, and retailers.
Through 2013, 36.5 percent of Frederick adults held a bachelor's degree and 87.9 percent had at least a high school diploma. A reasonable median housing value of $241,400 helps attract young families to the area.
According to the NCES, five institutions of higher learning call the Frederick area home. Here are the most prominent:
Frederick Community College
FCC is a two-year school that offers over 85 degree and certificate programs, as well as workforce training and career exploration services. The student population included 6,031 individuals in 2014, and tuition was only $3,227 for in-district students that year. FCC is known for these popular programs:
- Associate of Arts in Business Administration
- Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology
- Associate of Applied Science in Accounting
Hood College is a four-year school known for its research facilities and high standard for instruction. The school offers 33 major programs of study, 16 master's programs, and 11 graduate certificate programs. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year were $34,120. Here are a few of their popular degree options:
- Bachelor of Arts in Accounting
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Finger Lakes School of Massage
With just 70 students, Finger Lakes School of Massage can focus on small class sizes and hands-on instruction. Students who attend this school learn the skills it takes to become a licensed massage therapist. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year were $10,850. As a massage therapy school, they are known for this program:
- Massage Therapy
As part of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, Rockville is the state's third-largest city. Its population included 65,937 individuals in 2014. Meanwhile, large employers in the area include local government, Lockheed Martin, Westat, Montgomery College, and Adventist HealthCare.
In 2013, an amazing 62.5 percent of Rockville adults held a bachelor's degree, which reflects this area's dedication to higher learning. High levels of educational attainment also boost the median housing value in the area, which was $469,700 in 2013. The median household income was also high at $98,607 that year.
Four institutions of higher education reside in the Rockville area, including these top schools:
Montgomery College is a two-year school that offers a wide range of certificates and associate degrees. With a student population of 25,517, it is also one of the biggest schools in the area. Tuition and fees were $4,590 for in-district students, and the school is known for these programs:
- Associate of Arts in Computer Science
- Associate of Science in Nursing
- Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design
Omega Studios School of Applied Recording Arts & Sciences
Omega Studios offers career training in applied recording arts. Through the use of new technologies and recording innovations, they teach students the art and science behind this industry. A student population of just 85 made it possible for the school to offer a student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1 in 2014. Tuition and fees that year were $30,135. Here are some of there popular programs:
- Audio Engineering for the Music Industry
- Comprehensive Recording Industry Program
- Audio Engineering for Film and Television
Strayer University-Rockville Campus
Strayer University is a career-focused school that offers on-campus and online certificates, associate, bachelor's, and graduate programs. Currently, their offerings include six associate degrees, six bachelor's degrees, and eight master's programs, all with average tuition and fees of $12,975 for the 2014-15 school year. A few of their popular degree options include:
- Online Bachelor of Science in Accounting
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
- Online Associate of Arts in Information Technology
Scholarships and Financial Aid
The Maryland Higher Education Commission lists an array of financial aid opportunities that exist in the form of grants, scholarships, and loan programs. To qualify, students should first fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form, which lets state and federal agencies determine their eligibility. Types of federal aid can include Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.
Beyond federal aid, there are a wide range of state-based aid options available to students, including these:
- Guaranteed Access Grant
- Educational Assistance Grant
- 2+2 Transfer Scholarship
- Part-time Grant
- Delegate Scholarship
- Senatorial Scholarship
- Charles W. Riley Firefighter and Ambulance and Rescue Squad Member Scholarship Program
- Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program (LARP)
- John R.Justice Grant Program
- Maryland Loan Assistance Repayment Program for Physicians (MLARP)
- Maryland Dent-Care Loan Assistance Repayment Program (MDC-LARP)
- Nurse Support Program II - Hal & Jo Cohen Graduate Nursing Faculty Scholarship
- Tuition Reduction for Non-Resident Nursing Students
- Workforce Shortage Student Assistance Grant Program
Other types of aid may be available to students who qualify, including school or institution-based aid. Students should check with their school's financial aid office to learn more.
A Stronger Nation through Higher Education - Maryland, Lumina Foundation, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/#maryland
College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
Key Industries, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, http://business.maryland.gov/about/key-industries
Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
Maryland Industry Projections, 2012 - 2022, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, http://www.dllr.state.md.us/lmi/iandoproj/industry.shtml
May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Maryland, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_md.htm
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Baltimore, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/24/2404000.html
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Frederick, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/24/2430325.html
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Rockville, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/24/2467675.html
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Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time, College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time