Degrees that are most in-demand (ThinkStock)
Planning to go back to school and want to know which degrees are linked to stellar career opportunities?

Let's look to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' (NACE) "Job Outlook 2012" survey for clues. The annual survey is a forecast of employers' intentions to hire new college graduates.

Each year, many of the same degrees - business, engineering, and computer science - make it to the top of the hiring list. But why?

"In some cases companies are looking for a specific skill set unique to a position," says Andrea Koncz, employment information manager at NACE. "Computer science, for example, requires a specific technical knowledge."

Want to ensure you earn an in-demand degree? Keep reading to see which degrees are standing out to employers this year.

Degree #1 - Business Administration

If you're interested in earning an in-demand degree that can help you learn about business policy and strategy, a bachelor's degree in business administration could be a great option.

NACE's Job Outlook 2012 survey found that 48.5 percent of employers who responded to the survey plan to hire business majors, many of whom might study topics like accounting, marketing, human resources, and law.

Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

Why it's in demand: According to the Job Outlook survey, employers prefer candidates who have problem solving and leadership skills, which could potentially be acquired or honed through a business program, notes the Colleges Board, an organization that administers academic aptitude tests like the SAT. Business classes could also give students a broad understanding of business practices that might be used in industries ranging from finance to health care. 

Potential careers:*

  • Human Resources Manager
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Manager

- Earn a degree in today's most in-demand career fields.
- Attend classes online or in person at over 200 locations.
- Work with a team of advisors who are committed to your success.

Degree #2 - Engineering

Do you like to figure out how things are built and what makes certain things run? Consider pursuing an engineering bachelor's degree, which is a hot hiring field, according to NACE's Job Outlook survey.

Of the surveyed employers, 51.5 percent plan to hire electrical engineering grads; 50 percent anticipate hiring mechanical engineering grads; and 43.3 percent have plans to hire computer engineering grads.

Why it's in demand: Graduates in all engineering fields acquire in-demand skills such as problem solving and analysis according to the U.S. Department of Labor. These sought-after skills could transfer to a range of careers.

Potential careers:*

  • Environmental Engineer
  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Biomedical Engineer

Degree #3 - Computer and Information Sciences

Computer science bachelor's degree graduates are in luck. Their tech-savvy skills are appealing to many employers, according to the Job Outlook survey.

Computer science majors, who usually study technical subjects like computer programming, operating systems, and database or software engineering, are expected to have a great hiring year, with 59.3 percent of surveyed employers planning to hire them.

Click to Find the Right Computer and Information Systems Program.

Why it's in demand: As Koncz says, computer science graduates have a particular technical skill set that is unique to that position. What's more, the U.S. Department of Labor also notes that "as technology advances, employers will need workers with the latest skills," and a computer and information sciences degree could help provide students the skill-set they want.

    Potential careers:*

    • Software Engineering
    • Computer Programmer
    • Computer Systems Analyst

Degree #4 - Accounting

Do you want to pursue an in-demand degree that can help hone your all-about-numbers talents? If so, consider earning a bachelor's degree in accounting.

Accounting majors, who usually study topics like accounting basics, computer skills, and document processing, have a bright 2012 outlook, with 59.3 percent of surveyed employers planning to take on these graduates this year.

Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.

Why it's in demand: One reason for the demand, according to Koncz, is that accounting majors develop strong analytical skills that employers seek. The U.S. Department of Labor also notes that accounting and auditing hopefuls "should have an aptitude for mathematics and be able to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures quickly," which are skills that could be acquired in earning a degree in this area.

Potential careers: *

  • Accountant
  • Budget Analyst
  • Financial Manager

- Earn a degree in today's most in-demand career fields.
- Attend classes online or in person at over 200 locations.
- Work with a team of advisors who are committed to your success.

Degree #5 - Economics

Want to figure out why the economy is in such a rut? A bachelor's degree in economics might help you form some hypotheses. And to top it off, it's also a popular degree among employers.

In fact, according to the Job Outlook survey, economics degree grads have the attention of some 34 percent of surveyed employers who plan to hire them in 2012.

Why it's in demand: Economics majors generally take classes in mathematics, statistics, and finance, learning to "analyze how the seemingly simple acts of buying and selling can be complicated by factors such as taxes, interest rates," says the College Board. Through such a program, students could acquire abilities in data analysis, which places high in the desirable skills employers are looking for, according to the Job Outlook survey.

Potential careers: *

  • Personal Financial Advisor
  • Loan Officer
  • Financial Analyst

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