University News

Grad School applications soar

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Applications for Brown’s graduate school programs have risen 27 percent compared to this time last year, with international applications up 32 percent, according to the graduate admissions office.

As of Feb. 1, the graduate programs had received 8,649 applications, up from 6,805 in 2009, according to Beverly Larson, director of communications at the Graduate School. International applications went up from 2,485 to 3,278.

“We’re delighted with the swelling interest in Brown University’s Graduate School,” said Sheila Bonde, dean of the Graduate School. “Since 2001, the application rate has more than doubled,” she said.

“While the state of the economy may be motivating more people to apply to graduate school, we also think Brown has carved out a better position from which to attract highly qualified students,” Bonde said.

In a recent survey by the nationwide Council of Graduate Schools, domestic enrollment in American graduate schools was up by 6 percent in the last year. But the rate of international enrollment to American graduate schools remained stagnant, making 2009 the first year since 2004 in which there was not a national rise in the number of matriculating international graduate students.

The rise in students enrolling in graduate school correlates with an increase in the number of people choosing to take graduate school entrance exams each year. The Graduate Record Examinations saw a 13 percent increase in test-takers, according to Educational Testing Services, which administers the test. The Graduate Management Admissions Council also reported a small rise in Graduate Management Admission Test takers.

Dick Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior adviser to President Ruth Simmons, said improving the quality of the graduate school “has been an important objective” of the Plan for Academic Enrichment, which was released in 2004.

“The Plan for Academic Enrichment is all about improving the quality of education for all students,” Spies said. “People are more aware of the incredible research programs here.”

Hiring new faculty and providing them with more research support are among the ways the University has tried to increase its capacity as a research institution. Spies said this year’s rise in graduate school applications has continued the pattern of growth in the past few years.

 “We are quite consciously trying to compete with the best for the best grad students,” he said.

With the current economic recession, many may also see graduate school as a way to avoid entering into the workforce. Sarah Huebscher ’10, who is applying for a fifth-year master’s in the Division of Engineering’s Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship, called the choice to continue to graduate school “a popular decision” among students she knows.

“The state of the economy has made me want to continue my education now and enter the workforce later,” Huebscher said. “It makes sense to just sort of stay in school for now.”