Graduate school enrollment increases dramatically

So you have finally secured your bachelor’s degree, but you are just not ready to enter the work-a-day world yet? Well, you are not the only one.

Enrollment in graduate programs has increased dramatically over the past few years, while estimates expect the increase to grow in the near future. According to an article written by Peter Syverson in the newsletter of the Council of Graduate Schools, the Communicator, graduate enrollment in the U.S. is expected to increase from 1,807,000 in 1999 to 2,041,000 in 2011. This estimate is following a small decrease (0.8 percent) that occurred in enrollment between 1995 and 1999.

The cause of this increase may be two-fold. First the dilapidated economy has led to high unemployment rates, 5.9 percent as a national average. This may be leading recent college graduates, who are unable to find employment positions to their liking, to consider graduate programs as an alternative. Persons under 25 have been hit the hardest by the unemployment rate and trying to start a career amid economic downturn can prove truly burdensome.

Secondly, the age group of persons 25-39 years of age, who are most likely to attend graduate programs, has increased over the last ten years and is expected to continue to grow. Having a larger age group would obviously increase the number of students enrolled.

There is also the fact that a Bachelor’s degree just doesn’t carry as much weight as it used to. Starting a career with a Baccalaureate today is a lot like trying to start one with a high school diploma in 1968. Ask anyone a B.A in English how much weight that throws around at the Starbucks: Would you like a free copy of my thesis on Eroticism and Gender Representation in Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow with your half-caf, half-decaf, hazelnut, white chocolate mocha?

And while more people may go back to school, graduate school enrollment estimates propose that enrollment in programs will increase at a faster rate than the number of master’s degrees obtained (and the granting of doctoral degrees will be at an even slower pace). This may be due to a projection of people leaving graduate programs as economists optimistically estimate an up-and-coming revival of the job market in the next few years.

At PSU, over 1,100 graduate degrees are given out annually. Many Portland State students are considering graduate studies in lieu of searching the devastated job market for an opportunity (Oregon has been one of the states hit hardest by the national economic downturn). Interest in graduate programs at Portland State has mirrored this national trend, although enrollment has not increased. Graduate enrollment at Portland State University has increased from 5,413 students in 1996 to 5,609 in the 2001-2002 school year.

@box: U.S. Graduate Enrollment 1,807,000/1999 to 2,041,000/2011