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Executive Summary

The CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees is jointly sponsored by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and the Graduate Record Examinations Board (GRE). Conducted annually since 1986, the survey provides information about applications for admission to graduate school, first-time and total graduate student enrollment, and graduate degrees and certificates conferred. The 2011 survey was sent to 788 colleges and universities, and useable responses were received from 655 institutions, for an 83% response rate.

at the institutions responding to the survey. More than six out of ten first-time graduate students were enrolled at public institutions, about one-third were enrolled at private, not-for-profit institutions, and the remainder were enrolled at private, for-profit institutions. The broad fields of education, business, and health sciences enrolled the largest numbers of first-time graduate students, constituting nearly one-half of all first-time students enrolled in fall 2011.

Graduate Applications Institutions responding to the CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees received nearly 1.88 million applications for admission to graduate programs for studies beginning in fall 2011. About 766,000 (40.8%) of all graduate applications were accepted for admission, with a higher acceptance rate for applications to master’s degree and graduate certificate programs than doctoral programs. Engineering, business, and social and behavioral sciences accounted for the largest numbers of graduate applications in fall 2011. Applications for admission to U.S. graduate schools increased 4.3% between fall 2010 and fall 2011. Between fall 2001 and fall 2011, graduate applications grew at an average annual rate of 5.6%. Over the past decade, increases occurred in graduate applications in all broad fields. The average annual increases were greatest in health sciences, and smallest in education.

Two-thirds of all first-time graduate students were enrolled full-time in fall 2011. About 58% of all first-time graduate students in fall 2011 were women. Among first-time graduate students whose citizenship was known, 83% were U.S. citizens and permanent residents and 17% were temporary residents. One-quarter of all first-time graduate students were members of U.S. citizen and permanent resident racial/ethnic minority groups. First-time graduate enrollment fell 1.7% between fall 2010 and fall 2011. This marks the second consecutive decrease in first-time graduate enrollment since fall 2003 following the 1.1% decrease in first-time enrollments in fall 2010. In a reversal from fall 2010, this year’s decline was greater at private, not-for-profit institutions than public institutions. First-time graduate enrollment has increased 2.8% annually on average since fall 2001.

First-Time Graduate Enrollment

First-time graduate enrollment of temporary residents increased 7.8% between fall 2010 and fall 2011. In contrast, first-time graduate enrollment fell 2.3% for U.S. citizens and permanent residents over the same time period. Between fall 2001 and fall 2011, however, the average annual rate of increase for U.S. citizens and permanent residents outpaced that of temporary residents (3.3% vs. 1.8%).

More than 441,000 students enrolled for the first time in graduate certificate, education specialist, master’s, or doctoral programs for the fall term in 2011

Racial/ethnic minorities have driven much of the growth in first-time graduate enrollment among U.S. citizens and permanent residents over the past

The overall acceptance rate at public institutions (41.7%) was slightly higher than that at private, not-for-profit institutions (39.2%). Doctoral research institutions reported lower acceptance rates than master’s-focused institutions.

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Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2001 to 2011