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Grad School Enrollment Declines

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The Council of Graduate Schools 2011 report

The Council of Graduate Schools released its report September 28, 2012

The Council of Graduate Schools

As the number of people going to college continues to increase, the number of students enrolling in graduate programs is on the decline, according to a report published by the Council of Graduate Schools. The report, which was released in September 2012, measures enrolment rates in the U.S for the 2011 academic year.

Master's and doctoral enrolment for first-time students dropped by 1.7 percent between 2010 and 2011. The number of American citizens and residents in graduate programs dropped by 2.3 percent overall. The number of temporary residents, like those with education visas, increased by 7.8 percent compared to 2010.

First-time enrolment did actually increase for some disciplines, including mathematics and computer science (3.8 percent), engineering (2.2 percent) and health sciences (3.9 percent). The largest decrease was found in education, which decreased by 8.7 percent in 2011.

While overall enrolment did drop, applications to graduate schools actually increased in 2011, by 3.6 percent for doctoral programs and 5.2 percent for master's degrees. It is unclear if this means that students applied to more schools ,or if more students were applying overall but were not accepted or decided not to enrol.

Graduate Degrees and Technical Careers

While most technical jobs are experiencing growth rates above the average for other jobs, it can be a toss-up whether or not it is worth investing the time and money required to obtain a graduate degree. For example, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there should be nearly 364,000 positions for Information Systems Managers by 2020, representing an 18 percent growth from 2010 levels. However most of the people holding theses positions -- 55 percent -- have just a bachelor's or associates degree. Only 22 percent have a master's degree and 2 percent have a doctorate or other professional degree. The remaining 21 percent do not have a degree.

Among database administrators (DBAs) education levels are about the same, numbers are about the same, according to a survey done by CareerOneStop. Only 20 percent of DBAs have a master's degree and 2 percent have a doctoral or professional degree. Fifty-six percent have a bachelor's or associate's degree. Twenty-two percent do not have a degree.

Acceptance Rates

The highest acceptance rate in graduate program was in education, where the acceptance rate for master's programs was 71 percent and the rate for doctoral programs was 41 percent. Engineering master's programs had an acceptance rate of 43 percent and a rate of 41 percent for doctoral programs. Math and computer science had an acceptance rate of 44 percent for master's programs and 22 percent for doctoral programs. Business doctoral programs had the lowest acceptance rate -- 12 percent. Master's programs in business had a 48 percent acceptance rate.

Gender and Enrolment

In first-time graduate program enrolment, men continue to outnumber women in math and computer science, engineering and business.

In math and computer sciences master's programs, of those beginning a degree in 2011, 68 percent were men and 32 percent were women. In doctoral programs, 73 percent men and 27 percent women.

In engineering, approximately the same ratio of men and women were enrolled for the first time in both master's and doctoral programs: 76 percent being male and 24 percent being female.

In business programs, the ratios were closer. Fifty-eight percent of those enrolled in master's programs were male, while 42 percent were women. In doctoral programs, 55 percent were male and 45 percent were women.

Women do outnumber men in some other fields. In education, 59 percent of new master's program students were women, as were 52 percent in doctoral programs.

Eighty percent of new health sciences master's programs were women, as were 70 percent of doctoral programs. Women accounted for 78 percent of new master's program enrolments in public administration and 62 percent of doctoral programs.

Women also slightly outnumbered men in arts and humanities, biological and agricultural sciences, social and behavioral sciences and those programs classified as "other fields."

The full 122-page report by the Council of Graduate Schools can be found at issu.com.

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