October 18, 2011/MTU Tech Today
By Dennis Walikainen
Across the United States, enrollment of new graduate students has declined somewhat, while the overall graduate school enrollment has increased only slightly (1.1 percent). However, those newest numbers, reported by the Council of Graduate Schools, are not reflected at Tech.
Bucking the national trend, graduate student enrollment here has increased nearly everywhere on campus. Total graduate enrollment sits at a new record of 1,303, while new master's students have increased 6.9 percent, and new doctoral students have increased 4.3 percent.
So, why the difference?
"Students are interested in coming to our campus because of the quality of our faculty," says Graduate School Dean Jackie Huntoon. "Many hear about us from friends and relatives who tell them that we provide great education opportunities in a wonderful place."
According to Jacque Smith, director of graduate marketing and advancement for the Graduate School, there are other reasons.
"Of course, we provide a quality education," he says, "and we combine a lot of resources with smaller numbers, so it's a highly personalized graduate education."
And research experiences at Tech are different, according to Smith. "We've always been known for hands-on, real-life research and lab experiences." Less debt and more job offers are also incentives for students to seek education beyond the bachelor's degree, he says.
"And, although it's especially true for the STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] disciplines, we are experiencing growth in most areas," he says.
MBA offerings, both online and in person through the School of Business and Economics, have contributed to impressive gains: 15 percent from 2010 to 2011 (52 to 60 graduate students enrolled). Also, the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science experienced an increase of 3.6 percent (82 to 85), and the College of Engineering increased 5.7 percent (717 to 758). The College of Sciences and Arts decreased slightly (321 to 318).
Graduate programs in biological sciences showed the largest percentage increase, 33 percent (27 to 36); chemistry graduate enrollment increased roughly 12 percent (33 to 37); and electrical engineering graduate enrollment increased 8.5 percent (152 to 165).
International graduate enrollment rose the most among students from India, 10.8 percent (204 to 226) and from the People's Republic of China, 5.4 percent (203 to 214).
International students, in particular, are attracted by Tech's reputation for safety and the fact that our faculty and staff are familiar with the needs of internationals, Huntoon added.
Female graduate enrollment increased 4.35 percent (368 to 384).
And there's one more bonus for increases in graduate student numbers, according to Huntoon: "Many of these students pay their own way through graduate school while they live and shop in our local area. This is all good for the economy."