While the past two years have seen minor declines, business graduate education has had a pretty good first decade of the new millennium, according to the Council of Graduate Students, which, on Friday, released its report on graduate enrollment and degrees for 2001-2011.
First-time graduate enrollment saw a slight drop from 2010-2011, 1.7%, the second straight year there has been a drop in enrollment. Private, not-for-profits felt decline more than public schools, but over the past 10 years, there’s been a 2.8% increase in first-time graduate enrollment.
Total graduate enrollment saw a 2% decline in 2010-2011. Enrollment fell 0.9% at public institutions and a more dramatic 4.9% at private, for-profits schools.
“In my experience, business school, like the economy, is cyclical. I have seen application volume rise and fall and rise again several times,” said Stacy Blackman, MBA consultant, author and owner of Stacy Blackman Consulting. “The economy shifts, peoples’ financial situations change, employment trends come and go. The MBA is an incredibly versatile degree and is used and respected by many very big employers. It’s not going anywhere. I think numbers will continue to go up and down.”
Over the decade, there was a 3% increase in women first-time graduate enrollees, compared to a 2.6% increase in men.
Of 1.73 million students in graduate programs in 2011, more than half were enrolled in education, business or health sciences; of those, 56% were women and 8-in-10 were U.S. citizens.
In 2011, 516,600 masters degrees and more than half of those were given were in business and education. Women earned two-thirds of graduate certificates, 60% of masters degrees and 53% of doctorates. It marks the third consecutive year in which women earned the majority of the degrees awarded at the doctorate level.
“Schools are honing in on women and it’s paying off,” said Blackman. “They are focusing on recruiting top female talent and the women are enrolling. Yes, we have more women using our services. Their interests are completely wide ranging, from nuts and bolts finance to change the world philanthropy. Their pedigrees are impressive and it’s thrilling to see them earn seats at tops schools in higher numbers.”
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Forty percent of students who applied to graduate school were accepted as admissions increased 4.3% between ’10-’11. In the past 10 years, the greatest increases in applications have been in the field of health sciences.
“Of course when the number of applicants declines, the percentage admitted will increase,” said Blackman. “However, this paints a rosier picture than is the reality. Top business schools are still extremely selective and are not lowering their standards in any way. I am not advising applicants to “relax” because of slightly elevated acceptance rates.”
–Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets