Amid the huge complexity and many challenges of American higher education, what’s going on with university graduate programs? The Council of Graduate Schools issued a new report looking at trends for 2004-2014, offering a fine glimpse into where things have gone, and hints about the future (pdf).
Here are some of the main points which caught my eye.
Nationality American enrollment in graduate school is nearly flat, growing at a puny 1.3%, around the level of the nation’s population growth. But international enrollment is booming, just as it is in the undergraduate sector, rising more than 11% from 2013-2014.
How important is this nationality diversity? Foreign students are very significant, proportionally: “Among first-time graduate enrollees in Fall 2014 whose citizenship was known, 78.4% were U.S. citizens and permanent residents and 21.6% were temporary residents.” As with undergraduate education, non-American students are playing a crucial role in filling classes and paying tuition. (See also chart below)
Gender As with undergraduate education, women are now the majority of students, representing “57.9% at the master’s and graduate certificate-level, and 51.0% at the doctoral-level.”
Note the gender breakdown by field of study, with the sadly familiar STEM skew:
Race Hispanic students grew as a proportion of the grad student body, but blacks not so much.
Disciplines STEM fields, education, and business grew, while the social science and humanities aren’t doing well, generally.
Compared to last fall, first-time graduate enrollment increased in six broad fields of study, including mathematics and computer sciences (21.3%), engineering (10.7%), and health sciences (6.1%). First-time graduate enrollment, however, declined in five broad fields of study, including arts and humanities (-4.0%) and social and behavioral sciences (-3.1%).
Summing up: American graduate school is being transformed, in many ways as undergraduate education changes. We’re seeing American enrollment stagnate, while international students grow; the feminization of the student body; problematic access by race; STEM building, the humanities and social sciences declining.