Graduate school sees enrollment increase

Yale followed a national trend last academic year with a slight expansion of its graduate school population, though its international student population decreased slightly, according to a report released earlier this week by the Council of Graduate Schools.

Enrollment at graduate schools has increased 2 percent nationwide from 2003 to 2004, while graduate student enrollment at Yale grew by 1 percent over the same period, the report said. The percentage of non-international minority students enrolled in the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences increased by 5 percent this year, and the CGS report attributed the overall nationwide enrollment increase partly to a growing enrollment of minority students across the country.

Graduate School Dean Jon Butler said Yale is not trying to increase the number of graduate students in its programs, but he said this year’s overall 1 percent increase reflects normal fluctuations in yield rates.

“We look at enrollments every year, and we might make some highly selective and small changes in response to differing circumstances,” he said.

The enrollments reported by CGS include both doctoral and master’s degree programs. The subcategory of “major private research universities” reported a 3 percent increase in enrollment, which Butler said was surprisingly high.

Graduate Employees and Students Organization Chair Mary Reynolds GRD ’07 said any growth in graduate school enrollment is troubling because there is currently a weak academic job market for students who complete their doctoral degrees.

“What I’d like to see is that when these incoming grad students are hitting the job market in six or seven years, that there are many more tenure-track positions actually available to them,” she said.

The CGS reported that minority enrollment increased overall — particularly in the sciences where minority students have been historically underrepresented. At Yale, graduate school minority enrollment increased from 18.3 percent to 18.8 percent of total non-international enrollment, according to figures from Yale’s Office of Institutional Research.

Butler said increasing minority enrollment in graduate programs should also be a goal for other schools beyond Yale.

“All universities and our whole educational system needs to make the attraction of an academic life much more vivid,” Butler said.

There are more than twice as many international students as minority students at the graduate school — 872 compared to 323 students. The number of international graduate students at Yale decreased by 1 percent, compared to a 3 percent decline nationally.

CGS President Debra Stewart said in a press release that maintaining international enrollments is critical to the United States’ future.

“Our leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is threatened,” Stewart said. “America’s prosperity in the twenty-first century depends on attracting more students to graduate education in these key fields.”

Of all academic programs, the report said engineering and the physical sciences enroll the largest number of international students nationwide and saw the greatest decrease in the number of international students in their programs last year.

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