Press Release

New CGS Report: Applications to U.S. Graduate Schools Increase, But Enrollments are Down

Kelley KarnesIssued: 10-17-23

CGS Contact: Kelley Karnes
602-791-8278 /
PDF Version of Press Release

Washington, DC – Applications for admission to U.S. graduate schools rose by nearly four percent between Fall 2021 and Fall 2022, according to the new Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2012 to 2022 Report from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS).

Yet, first-time graduate school enrollment fell by about five percent in the same period.

“When the survey was conducted, the U.S. was seeing the largest increase in job openings since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Brian McKenzie, Director of Research at CGS. “College graduates may have opted to take jobs in the short term to gain income instead of pursuing a graduate education.”

The report also shows underrepresented minority groups experienced declining first-time enrollments in the range of 2-8%, suggesting a need for additional resources to fortify their access in graduate education.

For the first time, the annual report includes analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for top 10 graduate degree occupations projected to have the most job openings each year. Based on CGS’s analysis, there is a labor force shortage of 29,000 graduate school trained educational and career counselors and education administrators, relative to anticipated demand for professionals in these fields.

“It is still too early to tell if this is a trend, especially in light of the disruptions caused by the pandemic,” said Suzanne T. Ortega, President of CGS. “But we need to ensure that the gap between growing demands for graduate degree holders and students enrolling in related fields does not continue to widen. We need to enact policies that make graduate education more accessible to ensure a diverse workforce is ready to meet state and national needs.”

Policymakers can address these labor force shortages and graduate education accessibility by reforming student loans, expanding access to Pell Grants, and reinstating subsidized loans for graduate students, to name a few of CGS’s policy priorities.

 More Key Findings:

First-time enrollments in master’s colleges and universities increased by roughly 3%.

Individuals pursuing master’s degrees or graduate certificates (~85%) comprised most first-time graduate students in the Fall 2021 – Fall 2022 period.

There was a 3.2% decrease of doctoral first-time enrollment during the same period.

The survey observed a 10.2 percent increase in international graduate first-time enrollment between Fall 2021 and Fall 2022. By contrast, domestic first-time graduate enrollment declined by 4.7 percent in this period.

In Fall 2022, more than half of first-time graduate students at the master’s degree and certificate level (58.0%) and at the doctoral level (56.3%) were women.

First-time graduate enrollments in math and computer sciences increased over 5% from Fall 2021 to Fall 2022, while first-time graduate engineering enrollments declined by about 8%.

First-time enrollment of part-time graduates saw a 6.9% decrease between Fall 2021 and Fall 2022, while full-time graduate enrollment decreased by 3.7%.

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About CGS

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of approximately 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.

About the Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2012 to 2022 Report

Conducted annually since 1986, the CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees survey is designed to provide information about applications for admission to graduate school, graduate student enrollment, and graduate degrees and certificates conferred. The survey is jointly sponsored by CGS and the ETS GRE Program and is the only national survey that collects data on first-time and total graduate enrollment across all fields of master’s and research doctorate programs in the United States.