New Enrollment Dips a Bit at U.S. Graduate Schools

Ann McClure's picture
Friday, September 23, 2011

Enrollment of new students at graduate schools in the United States dropped slightly from 2009 to 2010, despite an 8.4 percent increase in applications. It was the first decline in first-time graduate enrollment since 2003, according to the Council of Graduate Schools, and came after a 5.5 percent increase the previous year.

The decrease in new graduate students was particularly noticeable in business, education and public administration programs, according to Debra W. Stewart, the council’s president. And while the number of new Hispanic students grew by almost 5 percent, new enrollment by black students declined by more than 8 percent.

“Both historically and in recent years, there’s been an inverse relationship between the economy and graduate student enrollment,” Dr. Stewart said. “But now, they’re both down, so the question is, why?”

“With this recession going on for so long,” she said, “people who have a job are less likely to want to leave it to go back to school, because it’s not at all clear that there will be a job for them at the other end.”

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