Reports

    Sub-section description: 

    CGS conducts and analyzes data and prepares benchmarking reports examining a variety of topics of importance in graduate education.

    CGS Research in Brief: Select Insights from the NAGAP/CGS Survey of Graduate Enrollment Management Professionals
    Tuesday, October 29, 2019

    By Hironao Okahana and Christian P.L. West

     

    According to the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), applications for admission to master’s programs increased by 1.4% and for doctoral programs by 4.1% between Fall 2017 and Fall 2018, while first-time enrollment in these programs grew by 2.0% and 2.9%, respectively (Okahana & Zhou, 2019a). Despite recent declines in international graduate enrollment (Okahana & Zhou, 2019a & 2019b), overall graduate enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities continues to grow, albeit modestly. This is not surprising as workforce demands for graduate degree holders are still growing in the United States. Jobs that require master’s degrees and doctoral degrees at the entry are expected to rise by 13.7% and 9.0% between 2018 and 2028, respectively (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019).   

     

    To gain insights about how graduate schools and programs are working to respond to this growing need for graduate degree holders, CGS collaborated with NAGAP, the Association for Graduate Enrollment Management to survey graduate enrollment management (GEM) professionals at U.S. and Canadian based institutions. Of the 167 respondents to the survey, 47.3% of GEM professionals reported that their institution or program has a robust enrollment growth target - 10% or more. In this brief, we discuss some of the insights gathered from this survey of GEM professionals.  

     

    Key Findings

    • In addition to the national labor market and workforce demands, GEM professionals in the survey whose units have robust enrollment growth targets cited the importance of the reputation and ranking of the program/institution; availability of scholarship/fellowships; and campus/program climate as factors influencing decision to grow. The importance of these factors varied by specific institutional characteristics, including the Carnegie classification and public-private status. For example, regional and local labor market and workforce needs were more important at public institutions than their private counterparts. (Figure 1)

     

    Figure 1.

    Data Source: NAGAP, The Association for Graduate Enrollment Management & Council of Graduate Schools, Survey of Graduate Enrollment Management Professionals, Summer 2019.

     

    • GEM professionals also cited increased resources such as additional full-time professional staff, implementation of a customer relations management system, institution-wide enrollment management strategy, and a dedicated budget for marketing and travel as critical to their ability to meet enrollment goals. (Table 1)

     

     

    Table 1.

    • Also, GEM professionals identified the reputation of the program/institution, campus climate, admission policies, and resources for recruitment as the top factors in their ability to increase the diversity of their incoming student body. (Figure 2)

     

    Figure 2.

    Data Source: NAGAP, The Association for Graduate Enrollment Management & Council of Graduate Schools, Survey of Graduate Enrollment Management Professionals, Summer 2019.

     

    Takeaway Points

    • Internal and external factors contribute to the setting of robust enrollment increase targets. There are both push and pull factors between program/institutional strengths and national, regional, and local workforce demands. This underscores the importance of aligning the strength of graduate programs with national, regional, and local labor market needs.

     

    • In qualitative survey responses, GEM professionals make a direct connection between enrollment goal setting and institutional infrastructure. The alignment of goals and resources may increase confidence among GEM professionals in their ability to achieve their enrollment goals.

     

    • While GEM professionals have confidence in their ability to achieve their overarching graduate enrollment goals for their units, they acknowledge meeting diversity goals as a different challenge. Given the positive influence of the reputation of institutions and graduate programs, as well as campus climate cited by GEM professionals, successful diversity recruitment strategies appear to require broader participation of stakeholders beyond GEM professionals.

     

     

    Conversation Starters for Graduate Deans

    • How do your graduate school and graduate programs use local, regional, and national workforce projections to determine enrollment goals?

     

    • What resources can your graduate school and graduate programs leverage to meet the enrollment goals for specific segments of the recruitment pipeline,e.g., masters, doctoral, professional, domestic, international?

     

    • What strengths can your graduate school and graduate programs leverage to successfully recruit a more diverse graduate student population in recruitment? How do diversity goals align with overall enrollment goals, strategies, and resource allocations?

     

     

    Additional Resources

     

    • The Outlook of the Workforce Needs: O*NET OnLine is an online tool for career exploration and job analysis sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. The web tool offers detailed insights, including projections of workforce needs and education and training needs for each occupation by the Standard Occupational Classification. Additional data may also be available via state and regional workforce development boards.

     

     

     

    References:

    Okahana, H., & Zhou, E. (2019a). Graduate enrollment and degrees: 2008 to 2018. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools.

     

    Okahana, H., & Zhou, E. (2019b). International graduate applications and enrollment: Fall 2018. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools.

     

    U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019). Table 5.2 Employment, wages, and projected change in employment by typical entry-level education (Employment in thousands). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/education-summary.htm.

     

     

    About the Data Source:

    The 2019 NAGAP/CGS Survey of Graduate Enrollment Management Professionals was developed by CGS, in consultation with NAGAP, and sent out to NAGAP members throughout July – August 2019. This brief is based on the deidentified, individual-level data file of 167 respondents. 91% of respondents voluntarily identified their institution and institutional characteristics were added to the data file using 2015 Carnegie Classification information. Analysis for this brief is based on a sample of 47.3% (N=79) institutions identifying a goal to increase overall enrollment by 10% or higher. These institutions break out into public Doctoral institutions (N=20), private Doctoral (N=12), public Masters institutions (N=10), and private Masters institutions (N=10).

     

     

    Author Contribution and Acknowledgment

    The brief was prepared by Hironao Okahana and Christian P.L. West. H.O. conceived and designed the project and data collection instrument, as well as supervised the analysis for this work. C.W. performed data cleaning and analysis, prepared the figures and table. Both authors discussed and contributed to the final brief. Suzanne T. Ortega, Enyu Zhou, Radomir Ray Mitic, and Janet Gao also provided feedback to earlier drafts of the brief. NAGAP, The Association for Graduate Enrollment Management provided feedback to earlier versions of the data collection instrument and administered the survey to its members. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this brief do not necessarily reflect the views of NAGAP.

     

     

     

    International Graduate Applications and Enrollments Continue to Decline at U.S. Institutions
    Thursday, February 7, 2019

    Contact: Katherine Hazelrigg  (202) 461-3888 / khazelrigg@cgs.nche.edu

     

    Master’s and Certificate Programs Remain Most Affected

     

    Washington, DC —New data from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) reveal that for the second consecutive year, international graduate application and first-time enrollment rates declined at U.S. universities. For Fall 2018, the final application counts from prospective international students declined by 4%, while the first-time enrollment of international graduate students declined by 1%.

     

    The overall decline is primarily driven by a 6% decrease in applications and a 2% decrease in first-time enrollment to master’s and certificate programs. In contrast, first-time international doctoral enrollment grew by 3%. The discrepancy by degree objective is notable given the proportion of first-time international graduate enrollment in master’s and certificate programs (77%) vs. doctoral programs (23%).

     

     “This is the first time we’ve seen declines across two consecutive years, and while we think it’s too soon to consider this a trend, it is troubling,” said CGS President Suzanne Ortega. “We continue to monitor issues, including changes in immigration and visa policy, with growing concern over the possible negative impact to the U.S.’s image as a welcoming destination for international students and scholars.”

     

    Highlights by Country of Origin

    China and India continue to represent the largest shares of international graduate applications, first-time international graduate enrollment, and total international graduate enrollment. However, the final application and first-time graduate enrollment of Indian students experienced large decreases again (-12%, -2% respectively) during the Fall 2017 to Fall 2018 admission cycle. This is the second consecutive year the number of applications and first-time enrollment from India has declined.

     

    Graduate applications from Middle Eastern & North African students to U.S. graduate schools fell by 14% between the Fall 2017 and Fall 2018 admission cycles. Graduate applications and first-time enrollment of Iranian (-27%, -8%) and Saudi Arabian (-6%, -21%) graduate students also decreased. Conversely, applications and first-time enrollment of Sub-Saharan African graduate students increased by 28% and 5% respectively.

     

    Ortega noted that overall, admission yield rates are comparable to last year. “This suggests that prospective international graduate students remain highly likely to accept offers of admission to U.S. graduate schools.”

     

    Highlights by Field of Study

    Across broad fields of study, international graduate applications increased in health sciences (5%), mathematics and computer sciences (6%), and other fields (8%) between Fall 2017 to Fall 2018. By contrast, engineering (-16%), physical & earth sciences (-9%), and business (-8%) experienced decreases in international graduate applications during this period. Business (95%), public administration & services (86%), and mathematics & computer sciences (85%) had high concentrations of first-time international students in master’s and certificate programs in Fall 2018, while first-time doctoral students accounted for 77% of international graduate students in physical & earth sciences and 50% in biological & agricultural sciences.

     

    About the survey and report

    Conducted since 2004, the CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey tracks the applications and enrollments of international students seeking U.S. master’s and doctoral degrees. As the only report of its kind to offer data on the current academic year, International Graduate Applications and Enrollment: Fall 2018 reports applications, admissions, and enrollments of international master’s, certificate, and doctoral students at U.S. colleges and universities. In Fall 2016 the survey was redesigned to collect data by degree objective (master’s and graduate certificate vs. doctorate), and for all seven regions of origin, eight countries of origin, and all eleven broad fields of study, yielding the only degree-level data currently available for graduate admissions and enrollments. 369 U.S. graduate institutions who are members of CGS or its regional affiliates responded to the 2018 survey.

     

    # # #

    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.

    In Master’s Degree Programs, Admissions Processes Prioritize Retention
    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

                                                                                                                                    

    CGS Contact: Katherine Hazelrigg                                                                  ETS Contact: Jason Baran

    (202) 461-3888 / khazelrigg@cgs.nche.edu                                                (609) 683-2428 / jbaran@ets.org

     

    In Master’s Degree Programs, Admissions Processes Prioritize Retention

    CGS Study Highlights Goals and Limitations of Current Master’s Admissions Processes

     

    Washington, DC — Today the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) released findings from a year-long study designed to better understand the processes and criteria used to evaluate applicants to master’s degree programs. Supported in part by Educational Testing Service (ETS), the project sheds new light on the way master’s programs select their future students.

     

    Among the project’s key findings is that both master’s program faculty and graduate deans consider the ability to successfully complete coursework to be an important criterion for evaluating candidates for admission. In a survey conducted by CGS, 79% of research-focused master’s program directors and 84% of professionally-focused master’s program directors identified the potential to complete coursework as a very important consideration during the admissions process. This finding suggests that universities place higher value on the likelihood of a student’s retention relative to their potential to contribute to the program environment and other factors.

     

    The findings also shed light on the various weight given to common elements in a student’s application package. According to the survey, letters of recommendation are used to evaluate a wide range of cognitive and non-cognitive attributes. For example, letters of recommendation were used by 90 to 92% of the graduate program directors as evidence of an applicant’s non-cognitive qualities, such as persistence, dependability, and collegiality/collaboration/cooperation. Because letters of recommendation can introduce biases into the admissions process, however, this finding suggests that it is very important for programs to develop consistent ways of evaluating a letter’s contribution to the admissions package.

     

    “There is quite a bit of agreement about the evaluation criteria and processes used in master’s admissions, and the apparent focus given to student retention is good news,” said CGS President Suzanne Ortega. “However, this study also uncovered opportunities to help master’s admissions committees and deans achieve their admissions goals more effectively. We need better resources, such as rubrics, to help universities consider candidates consistently and with attention to the full range of attributes they are seeking for their programs.”

     

    David Payne, ETS vice president of global education, said, “The programs and deans surveyed consistently identified critical thinking as a key attribute they consider when evaluating an applicant’s potential to achieve desired outcomes, such as degree completion and post-graduate success. The GRE® General Test measures aspects of critical thinking in each of the test’s three sections, and it continues to provide value as a common, objective measure to compare applicants with various backgrounds and educational experiences. The report recommends that those involved in the admissions process receive more training around evaluating submitted materials, including score interpretation and avoiding bias. This may include how reviewers should weight GRE scores — as part of a holistic admissions process that places appropriate value on all submitted materials — to achieve their program’s enrollment goals.”

     

    The study’s authors outline five recommendations aimed at master’s education leaders interested in improving the master’s admissions process. The recommendations include providing greater transparency in master’s admissions procedures, providing information and support to help admissions committees avoid biases, offering training to increase faculty and staff involvement in the process, and developing tools to evaluate non-cognitive attributes. The report also calls for additional research to clarify best practices in this area.

     

    More information about the report, including data tables from the surveys, can be found on the CGS website.

     

    About the report

    Master’s Admissions: Transparency, Guidance, and Training is the final report of the CGS/ETS Master’s Admissions Attributes project, which was conducted in three stages: regional focus groups to develop survey tools; two surveys, one for graduate school staff and for master’s program directors; and a colloquium to discuss the results from the two surveys and their implications. Three research questions were developed to guide the conversation: 1) What is success in a master’s program? 2) What attributes are currently used in admissions decisions to predict success? 3) What evidence is currently used to evaluate the attributes? The report outlines and summarizes the project findings.

    ###

    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 ETS

    At ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded as a nonprofit in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® tests and The Praxis Series™ assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide. WWW.ETS.ORG

    Trends in International First-time Graduate Enrollment

    Hironao Okahana, Associate Vice President, Research & Policy Analysis & Enyu Zhou, Education Research Analyst, Council of Graduate Schools

     

    According to the 2018 CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees (GE&D), first-time graduate enrollment of international students at participating institutions declined by 3.7% between Fall 2016 and Fall 2017. This brief highlights some additional analysis pertaining to international graduate enrollment trends.

     

    Key Findings:

    • Despite the 3.7% decrease overall, at Doctoral Universities: Highest Research Activity (R1), first-time international graduate enrollment increased by 1.4% between Fall 2016 and Fall 2017. At other types of institutions, however, first-time international graduate enrollment decreased by double digits. (Figure 1)

     

     

    • Compared to R1 institutions, proportionally fewer international graduate students attend other types of institutions. However, in some fields of study, such as engineering and mathematics and computer sciences, a large number of incoming graduate students at non R1 institutions are also international. (Figure 2)

     

     

    • At R2 and R3 institutions, domestic first-time enrollment also declined between Fall 2016 and Fall 2017, and overall first-time graduate enrollment decreased by 4.2% and 7.1%, respectively. While there are fields in which first-time enrollment has been declining for some years, there are others that saw a sudden decline between Fall 2016 and Fall 2017. (Table 1 – next page)

     

     

    Takeaway Points:

    • A number of factors influence the global academic mobility of students; the Fall 2017 enrollment data suggest that the current U.S. visa policy and the uncertainties surrounding it may be, in part, impacting the flow of international graduate students coming into the United States.
    • It appears that U.S. graduate education, broadly speaking, is still attractive to international talents, as is evident from first-time international graduate enrollment at R1 institutions. For other types of U.S. institutions, given the current political and policy climate, global competition for international graduate students may have increased.
    • For R2 and R3 institutions, the decline of first-time international graduate enrollment comes in addition to stagnating, if not declining, first-time graduate enrollment of U.S. domestic students. If this decline becomes a pattern, it could pose a significant challenge to the health of graduate programs, particularly those programs with a large number of international students.

     

    Conversation Starters: What do these data points mean for your graduate school and your programs and their strategic directions?

    • How does your institution’s international and domestic enrollment figures compare to the national numbers? How does your institution compare to your peer institutions and graduate programs regionally and nationally?
    • How have international graduate recruitment strategies at your institution changed in recent years? Has your institution historically relied on specific countries and/or graduate programs for international recruitment? How do you continue to strategically position your graduate school/programs in an increasingly crowded international marketplace?
    • How are your graduate school and your programs responding to changes in both domestic and international graduate student enrollment? Do your graduate school and programs proactively engage current and potential employers of graduate degree holders?

     

    Additional Resource:
    CGS Strategic Consultations. The Council of Graduate Schools provides strategic consultations to member and nonmember institutions, boards, and state agencies as they make tactical decisions about the administration of graduate education.  Our consultations draw upon extensive best practice and benchmarking research as well as the insights of experienced graduate deans from around the country. CGS also provides Custom Data Reports to help institutional leaders inform their strategic decision-making processes. Figures and tables in this brief and the full GE&D report can be customized to include institutions of your choice.

     

    About the Data Source:

    CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees is an annual survey of U.S. graduate schools, co-sponsored by CGS and the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Board since 1986. It is the only annual national survey that collects data on graduate enrollment by all fields of study and is the only source of national data on graduate applications by broad field of study. The report includes responses from 619 institutions and presents statistics on graduate applications and enrollment for Fall 2017, degrees conferred in 2016-17, and trend data for one-, five- and ten-year periods.

    The brief was prepared by Hironao Okahana and Enyu Zhou. Ryan Bradshaw and Katherine Hazelrigg also contributed. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this brief do not necessarily reflect the views of CGS.

     

    International Graduate Admissions Survey Data Collection
    Thursday, October 4, 2018

     

     

     

    For 2018, we are pleased to be offering two formats to submit data:

     

    1) Excel 2018 Data Submission Instrument (preferred) 
    2) PDF 2018 Data Submission Instrument

     

    For both data submission formats, please use the 2018 International Graduate Applications and Enrollment Survey Instructions and Definitions as your guide to completing the instruments and submitting your data.

     

    Data collection is open until Friday, November 9, 2018. 

     

    We appreciate your time in completing the survey instruments.

     

     

    2017 International Graduate Admissions and Survey Data Submission

     

    If you did not submit data to the 2017 International Graduate Applications and Enrollment Survey, please consider submitting it at this time. Having institutional data from both years allows your institution's data to be used in additional statistics, including the calculation of year-over-year yield rates.

     

    To submit 2017 data, please use the Excel 2017 Data Submission Instrument. Utilize the same instructions as the 2018 Survey to complete the document. To submit your 2017 data to CGS:

    1. Save your file on your computer using the convention: Institution ID, Institution Name, 2017 International Survey. (e.g. 1111, ABC University, 2017 International Survey).
    2. Create a new email addressed to: Fall_Int_l_Survey_Data_Submission.cinwrc4-1-7RCkDq@upload.awp.autotask.net
    3. Attach the saved, completed document to the email.
    4. Send the email with no other attachments or text. The attached file in the email will be uploaded to a secure cloud-based storage file. CGS staff will not be able to see any other comments written in the email. If you have any other comments, please send them separately to research@cgs.nche.edu
    5. You will receive an automated email response confirming that your attached file has been stored in the “Fall 2017 Int’l Survey Data Submission” file.

     

    Contact

    For more information about the CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey, please contact Hironao Okahana.

    Pressing Issue: Mental Wellness of Graduate Students
    Monday, April 9, 2018

    Hironao Okahana, Associate Vice President, Research & Policy Analysis

     

    A number of recent studies have drawn attention to the mental health challenges experienced by graduate students.[1] Studies note that the prevalence of mental health challenges among PhD students is higher than that of the highly-educated general population, and much higher than in the general population.[2] The most recent study published in Nature Biotechnology reported that 39% of their participants, mostly doctoral candidates, fell into the moderate-to-severe depression range,[3] while other studies reported that one in two PhD students has experienced psychological distress, and one in three is at risk of a common psychiatric disorder.[4]  Some factors known to adversely affect the mental wellness of graduate students have also been noted in CGS’s recently concluded “Doctoral Initiative on Minority Attrition and Completion (National Science Foundation grant number 1138814)” project. In that study, we found that underrepresented minority doctoral candidates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields were more likely to feel isolated from other students and worried about their mental or physical health than their peers[5].

     

    The challenges surrounding mental wellness of master’s and doctoral students are at the forefront of the minds of many graduate deans in the CGS community. In the 2018 CGS Pressing Issues Survey[6], 63% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that current graduate students struggle to maintain mental wellness more than students five years ago. Only 10% of respondents disagreed with the statement and none strongly disagreed. However, even with this heightened awareness about mental health challenges among graduate students, graduate deans also seem concerned that campus stakeholders may not currently be equipped to address these challenges.

     

    Identifying Mental Health Challenges

    When asked how well their institutions inform and train various campus stakeholders to recognize symptoms of mental health challenges in graduate students and in turn refer those students to appropriate support services, many graduate deans who responded expressed concern that their institutions weren’t doing enough. Notably, the results suggest that more than four out of ten graduate deans think that more can be done to inform and train graduate faculty members, faculty advisers, PIs, and dissertation/thesis chairs, as well as graduate program directors/department chairs and graduate students themselves. Only 21% of deans reported that their institutions do an excellent or good job of informing and training graduate faculty members.  About one out of ten respondents (11%) reported that they do not know if graduate students are informed or trained about symptoms of mental health issues.

     

    However, we also learned that support services for mental health are available at institutions. In the 2017 CGS Pressing Issues Survey[7], 96% of CGS member graduate deans who responded indicated that mental health support and crisis counseling are provided either by their graduate schools and/or by other units at their institutions. Yet, the results from the 2018 survey suggest that institutions are not doing as well at informing and training graduate school stakeholders to recognize and refer students with mental health challenges to the appropriate and available resources at their campuses. This is problematic, particularly given that 70% of graduate deans in the 2018 survey felt that when provided with adequate information and training, graduate faculty members—including faculty advisers, PIs, and dissertation/thesis chairs—should be best positioned to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health challenges and ensure that graduate students are referred to appropriate support services. Graduate schools may have a role here in better connecting graduate students with available resources through their graduate faculty members.

     

     

    Promoting Mental Wellness

    Of the graduate deans who responded to the survey, 33% reported that their institutions are doing a good or excellent job of training and informing graduate school staff members to promote positive mental health among graduate students. However, many graduate deans also felt that institutions are not doing enough to inform and train various graduate education stakeholder groups to promote positive mental health among graduate students.  Notably, nearly half of responding graduate deans indicated that their institutions are doing a poor or very poor job of informing and training graduate faculty members, faculty advisers, PIs, and dissertation/thesis chairs. This is another area in which graduate schools have the potential to engage more graduate faculty members to promote positive mental health among graduate students: 47% of graduate deans also felt that when provided with adequate information and training, graduate faculty members should be best positioned to promote positive mental health among graduate students.

     

     

    Moving the Conversation Forward

    Graduate student mental wellness is a key area of priority for the graduate education community and CGS is committed to advancing the national conversation. At the 2017 CGS Annual Meeting, we held a concurrent session on Supporting Students With Mental Health Challenges, and at the upcoming CGS Summer Workshop in Chicago this July, Mona Shattell, chair and professor in the College of Nursing at Rush University, will give a plenary talk on supporting graduate student health and wellness.  Also at the Summer Workshop, there will be a Dean’s Toolbox session about evidence-based strategies for supporting graduate student well-being and success, using an example from Texas A&M University. We encourage you to be there and to be a part of this important conversation.

     

    CGS is also beginning to formulate a series of projects and initiatives that aim to facilitate culture change in academia and to destigmatize mental health support-seeking, while promoting mental wellness among master’s and doctoral students. As a first step toward this goal, we are preparing a white paper that addresses some of the foundational questions about trends in graduate student mental health challenges and ways for graduate schools and graduate school leaders to play more integral roles in promoting the mental wellness of master’s and doctoral students. As we draft this paper, which we will share with CGS members, we will explore examples of currently available resources and will reach out to member deans for insights. While we will conduct a scan of the landscape of both extant literature and institutional practices, it is also helpful to crowdsource some of the cutting-edge ideas among our member institutions. If you have any promising approaches, new initiatives, and insights in promoting mental wellness among master’s and doctoral students, we invite you to share them with us.

     


    [1] Flaherty, C. (2018, March 6). Mental Health Crisis for Grad Students. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/03/06/new-study-says-graduate-students-mental-health-crisis.

    [2] Evans, TM., Bira, L., Gastelum, GB., Weiss, LT., and Vanderford, NL. (2018). Evidence for a Mental Health Crisis in Graduate Education. Nature Biotechnology, 36(3): 282-284, as well as Table 4 in Levecque, Anseel, De Beuckelaer (2017). Levecque, K., Anseel, F., De Beuckelaer, A., Van der Heyden, J., & Gisle, L. (2017). Work organization and mental health problems in PhD students. Research Policy, 46(4), 868–879. doi:10.1016/j.respol.2017.02.008. For reference, 1 in 5 American adults experience mental illness in any given year. (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-mental-illness-ami-among-us-adults.shtml)

    [3] Evans, TM., Bira, L., Gastelum, GB., Weiss, LT., and Vanderford, NL. (2018). Evidence for a Mental Health Crisis in Graduate Education. Nature Biotechnology, 36(3): 282-284.

    [4] Eisenberg, D., Hunt, J., & Speer, N. (2013). Mental health in American colleges and universities. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 201(1), 60–67. doi:10.1097/nmd.0b013e31827ab077; Hyun, J.K., Quinn, B.C., Madon, T. & Lustig, S. (2006). Graduate student mental health: Needs assessment and utilization of counseling services. Journal of College Student Development, 47(3): 247-266.

    [5] Sowell, R., Allum, J., & Okahana, H. (2015). Doctoral Initiative on Minority Attrition & Completion. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools.

    [6] The 2018 CGS Pressing Issues Survey was sent to all U.S. and Canadian based CGS member institutions in February 2018, and asked graduate deans among other questions: How prevalent are mental health disorders among graduate students?; and Who is best positioned to recognize when a graduate student needs to be referred for mental health support services? In total, 204 or 42% responded to this survey.

    [7] The 2017 CGS Pressing Issues Survey was sent to all U.S. and Canadian based CGS member institutions in February 2017. The survey asked a range of questions regarding priorities for graduate deans, graduate schools, and their home institutions for the upcoming twelve months, as well as observations of graduate application trends. In total, 205 or 42% responded to this survey.

    The author thanks Julia Michaels, former CGS staff member, for her contribution to the literature review in this piece.

     

    Data Sources: Four out of Five: A Closer Look into Master’s Degrees

    Hironao Okahana, Assistant Vice President, Research & Policy Analysis, CGS
    Enyu Zhou, Education Research Analyst, CGS

     

    A large majority of graduate students in the United States pursue master’s degrees. According to the most recent CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees (GE&D), more than twice as many applications for admission were submitted to master’s programs than doctoral programs, and four out of five first-time graduate students enrolled in Fall 2016 were enrolled in programs leading to a master’s degree or a graduate certificate. Furthermore, the large majority (83%) of degrees awarded in 2015-16 were master’s degrees, while the share of doctoral degrees was 11% and graduate certificates was 6.2%. The sheer size of the student body and degrees awarded make master’s education a critical part of the graduate education enterprise that affects institutional missions, enrollment models, and financial planning across different sectors of higher education. This article highlights several results from the most recent GE&D survey that pertain specifically to master’s education.

     

    Application & First-time Enrollment

    The volume of applications for admission to master’s programs continues to increase. Between Fall 2015 and Fall 2016, applications for admission to master’s/other programs increased 1.4%, which was a larger rate of growth than that of doctoral applications (0.8%). Over the last ten years, between Fall 2006 and Fall 2016, master’s applications grew on average by 7.0% each year, while doctoral applications only grew by 3.3% annually. Also on average, first-time graduate enrollment in master’s programs grew by 3.1% annually between Fall 2011 and Fall 2016, compared to 2.7% in first-time doctoral enrollment.

     

    Figure 1 shows the trends in first-time master’s enrollment by broad field of study for the decades spanning Fall 2006 to Fall 2016. The increases in first-time master’s enrollments have been particularly large in business, health science, engineering, and mathematics and computer sciences. Though it is a smaller field of study in comparison, biological & agricultural sciences continues steady growth in first-time enrollment. The first-time enrollment in education master’s programs remains the second largest broad field of study, despite the sharp drop in first-time enrollment in the early 2010s. In addition, first-time enrollment in education master’s programs appears to be slowly rebounding from previous declines (since Fall 2013).

     

    On the other hand, the first-time enrollment in arts and humanities master’s programs has slowly declined since Fall 2009. It also appears that the growth in mathematics & computer sciences has slowed down significantly, and first-time enrollment in engineering master’s programs has flattened in recent years. These two fields of study enroll many international students—61% and 56% of first-time master’s and doctoral students in Fall 2016. Given the current policy and political climate surrounding Optional Practical Training (OPT) and H-1B visa programs, this is an area that may warrant continued attention from the graduate education community.

     

    Women comprised a larger majority (59%) of first-time enrollment at the master’s level than at the doctoral level (53%) in Fall 2016. In particular, more than three out of four first-time master’s students in health sciences (79%), public administration and services (79%), and education (76%) were women. In contrast, women comprised a minority of the students in master’s programs in engineering (26%), mathematics and computer sciences (36%), and physical and earth sciences (46%). However, the percentage shares of women in mathematics and computer sciences and physical and earth sciences were much greater in comparison to doctoral programs (27% and 36%, respectively). This indicates that in these fields, master’s programs play an important role in facilitating women’s participation in the advanced STEM workforce.

     

    Total Master’s Enrollment & Degrees Conferred

    Nearly three out of four (74%) graduate students at the institutions that participated in the Fall 2016 GE&D survey were in master’s programs. In fields such as business (94%), public administration and services (93%), education (79%), and mathematics and computer sciences (78%), the share of master’s students was particularly robust. It is not surprising that more than nine out of ten (94%) graduate students at Master’s Colleges and Universities were enrolled in master’s programs. However, it is noteworthy that about three out of four graduate students at Doctoral Universities with Moderate Research (77%) and Higher Research (75%) were also master’s students. Furthermore, even at Doctoral Universities with Highest Research activity, 63% of all graduate students in Fall 2016 were pursuing master’s degrees.

     

    Similarly, more than four out of five (83%) graduate degrees and certificates awarded between 2015-16 at the institutions that participated in the Fall 2016 GE&D survey were master’s degrees. This compares to 11% for doctoral degrees and 6.2% for graduate certificates. Not surprisingly, 90% of graduate degrees and certificates awarded at Master’s Colleges and Universities were master’s degrees. However, more than eight out of ten graduate degrees and certificates conferred by Doctoral Universities with Highest Research (80%), Higher Research (81%), and Moderate Research (84%) were also master’s degrees. These enrollment and degrees data reinforce the idea that master’s education is an integral part for all sectors of the graduate education enterprise.

     

    Institutions participating in the Fall 2016 GE&D survey reported a 3.2% increase in the number of master’s degrees awarded between 2014-15 and 2015-16, compared to the 2.7% growth in doctoral programs. The increase was particularly robust at Doctoral Universities with Moderate Research (8.2%), although, these institutions also reported a high rate of increase in the number of doctoral degrees awarded (7.0%). Interestingly, the number of doctoral degrees awarded by Doctoral Universities with Higher Research decreased by 6.2% between 2014-15 and 2015-16, while the number of master’s degrees awarded remained virtually flat (0.8%). The increases in the number of master’s degrees awarded between 2014-15 and 2015-16 were particularly robust in biological and agricultural sciences (15%), health sciences (14%), and engineering (12%). However, numbers declined in arts and humanities (-3.7%) and social and behavioral sciences (-0.3%).

     

    Discussion

    Master’s education encompasses a wide range of programs and fields of study. It is a segment of the graduate education enterprise that is difficult to analyze given the diversity of students it serves and the workforce needs it aims to address. Nevertheless, as the only national data source that captures comprehensive application, enrollment, and degrees data on master’s degrees in all fields, the GE&D survey offers valuable insight into the graduate education community. These insights are meant to help advance campus-level conversations that will lead to innovative, responsive, and distinctive approaches in master’s education.

     

    The U.S. workforce needs more master’s degree holders, but graduate programs will need to closely align their curriculum to offer skills and competencies needed for graduates to be successful. The CGS Master’s Committee has developed the Alignment Framework, a model that provides a roadmap for graduate deans and institutional leaders to create workforce-ready high-quality master’s programs that can best serve their region, state, and beyond. In addition, CGS, in partnership with Educational Testing Services, has launched an investigation of master’s admissions practices titled Master’s Admission Attributes: Current Status and Missing Evidence. Through four regional focus groups, the project will attempt to connect master’s admission criteria to outcomes and competencies and inform future admissions practices.

     

    Beyond these projects, CGS encourages the robust exchange of ideas and promising practices surrounding master’s education among our member deans. At the upcoming Annual Meeting, there will be a pre-meeting workshop session that focuses on master’s enrollment management, as well as several concurrent sessionsthat focus on master’s topics. In the meantime, we encourage our members to take advantage of the Dean’s Discussion Board to pose questions and/or share insights with fellow graduate deans on this topic.

     

    The full report of the most recent CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees, Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2006-2016, is available online. For questions regarding the report and this article, please contact Enyu Zhou, CGS education research analyst. For inquiries regarding CGS Master’s Projects, please contact Robert M. Augustine, CGS senior vice president.

     

     

    Preparing Future Faculty to Assess Student Learning
    Friday, September 29, 2017

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    Contact: Katherine Hazelrigg (202) 461.3888/ khazelrigg@cgs.nche.edu

     

    New Council of Graduate Schools publication highlights effective strategies and best practices

     

    Washington, DC – The next generation of faculty will be better prepared to help their students learn, thanks to a new Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) report released today. Strategies to Prepare Future Faculty to Assess Student Learning is the product of a three-year project to identify models for infusing undergraduate learning assessment skills into existing Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) programs. With support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Teagle Foundation, and in collaboration with seven funded institutions and 19 affiliates, the project involved nearly 1,300 graduate students and 200 faculty across the humanities, social sciences, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

     

    Knowing how to assess whether students are learning – and what they’re learning – is key to advancing the quality of U.S. higher education. Yet learning assessment is typically a topic to which faculty have little or no exposure until they actually begin their faculty careers. By that time, they are busy trying to publish, obtain research funding, and keep up with their teaching responsibilities. Evaluation of student learning outcomes may take a backseat to these other important activities, unless faculty are already prepared and possess the skills to execute high-quality learning assessments.

     

    CGS President Suzanne Ortega commented that “Our long-term goal is to help universities fully integrate learning assessment skills into the majority of professional development programs for graduate students interested in faculty careers. Ultimately, we hope to build a cadre of new faculty who will become champions for undergraduate teaching and learning.”

     

    The report outlines a core set of assessment skills and competencies, and common tactics for integrating these skills into existing professional development programs. Innovative strategies such as “flipping” the classroom (having students watch lectures at home and participate in active learning discussions in class), using audience response systems (or “clickers”) to engage students, and conducting “teaching-as-research” projects are just a few examples of the practices in use at universities.

     

    CGS partnered with seven institutions: Cornell University; Harvard University; Indiana University; Michigan State University; North Carolina A&T State University; University of California, Merced; and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, as well as 19 affiliate partners. The project built upon more than two decades of CGS partnerships for preparing future faculty.

     

    An Executive Summary is freely available for download. The full report can be purchased online.

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    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.

    Healthy Growth in Master’s Enrollment Continues at U.S. Graduate Schools
    Thursday, September 28, 2017

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    Contact: Katherine Hazelrigg (202) 461.3888/ khazelrigg@cgs.nche.edu

     

    Data Indicate Increasing Number of Graduate Certificates Awarded
     

    Washington, DC — Today the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) reported continued growth in total graduate enrollment, first-time enrollments, number of applications, and degrees conferred at U.S. universities in its report, CGS/GRE Graduate Enrollment & Degrees: 2006-2016. The majority of growth in Fall 2016 continues to be in programs leading to master’s degrees, which comprise 82.5% of degrees awarded in 2015-16. In addition, the number of graduate certificates awarded by institutions participating in the survey increased by 11.8% between 2014-15 and 2015-16, suggesting that a growing number of students see the value in these micro-credentials.

     

    “The consistent growth in applications, first-time enrollment, and degrees conferred in programs leading to master’s degrees indicates that graduate education is meeting the increasing workforce demand for advanced degree holders. The unemployment rates are lower for advanced degree holders. More and more jobs are requiring a higher skill level, and graduate education is adapting to meet those needs, as evidenced by the increase in graduate certificates,” said CGS President Suzanne Ortega.

     

    For the second year in a row, all underrepresented minority (URM) groups monitored by the survey saw greater increases in first-time graduate enrollment than their White, non-Hispanic counterparts, even though their overall representation in the graduate student body remains relatively low. Among first-time U.S. citizens and permanent resident graduate students in the Fall of 2016, approximately 23.4% were underrepresented minorities, including American Indian/Alaska Native (0.5%), Black/African American (11.8%), Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (0.2%), and Hispanic/Latino (10.9%).  The one-year rate of change in first-time graduate enrollment for most URM groups was greater than its respective five-year and ten-year average percentage change.

     

    “I’m cautiously optimistic at the continued increase in overall first-time enrollments for underrepresented minorities,” said Ortega. “However, URMs remain proportionally underrepresented. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure this is a sustained trend across graduate programs and leads to a more diverse workforce.”

     

    This year’s survey results show first-time graduate enrollment of international students decreased 0.9% between Fall 2015 and Fall 2016. It is the first decrease since 2003, though the five-year average annual increase (7.8%) and ten-year average annual increase (7.4%) rates remain high. In contrast, first-time graduate enrollment for U.S. citizens and permanent residents increased 3.2%. Conversely, the total graduate enrollment increased by 2.4% for international students and decreased by 0.1% for U.S. citizens and permanent residents over the same Fall 2015-2016 period.

     

    For the fifth consecutive year, institutions responding to the CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment & Degrees for Fall 2016 reported increases in first-time graduate enrollment (522,131). More than one half of those first-time graduate students were women (58.1%). New highs for the application and admission cycle were also achieved, with institutions receiving more than 2.2 million applications and extending over 903,000 offers of admission in Fall 2016 for graduate students in graduate certificate, education specialist, master’s, or doctoral programs.

     

    Other report findings are summarized below. 

     

    Findings by Broad Field

    • By broad field of study, the largest number of total applications for Fall 2016 were in engineering (322,120), business (277,060), and health sciences (276,886). Business (83,391), education (80,274), and health sciences (64,519) were the three largest broad fields of first-time graduate enrollment in Fall 2016.
    • By broad field of study, the largest one-year increases in graduate applications occurred in the fields of mathematics and computer sciences (5.5%), physical and earth sciences (5.0%), business (3.2%), and biological and agricultural sciences (3.1%).
    • Consistent with recent trends, graduate applications in arts and humanities decreased 6.2% between Fall 2015 and Fall 2016.
    • First-time graduate enrollment in education increased both at the master’s level (2.3%) and the doctoral level (3.0%) between Fall 2015 and Fall 2016.
    • In Health Sciences, there has been a robust increase in awards of both master’s degrees (13.7%) and doctoral degrees (9.5%) between 2014-15 and 2015-16.

     

    Findings by Degree Level

    • The large majority of all first-time graduate students in Fall 2016 were enrolled in programs leading to a master’s degree or a graduate certificate (83.4%).
    • The number of graduate certificates awarded by institutions participating in the survey increased by 11.8% between 2014-15 and 2015-16.
    • At the doctoral level, health sciences (12.1%) had the largest one-year increase in the number of applications of all broad fields of study. At the master’s/other level, mathematics and computer sciences (8.4%) reported the highest one-year percentage increase.

     

    Findings by Student Demographics

    • Among first-time U.S. citizens and permanent resident graduate students in the Fall of 2016, about 23.4% were underrepresented minorities.
    • Particularly notable among underrepresented minorities was that for two consecutive years, first-time graduate enrollment of American Indian and Alaska Native increased (5.4% between 2014-15 and 2015-16, and 3.4% between 2013-14 and 2014-15).
    • In Fall 2016, the majority of first-time graduate students at all degree levels were women – 58.9% at the master’s degree and certificate level and 52.8% at the doctoral level.
    • International students comprised the largest share of first-time graduate students in mathematics and computer sciences (60.7%), followed closely by engineering (55.7%).

     

    About the report

    Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2006 to 2016 presents the findings of an annual survey of U.S. graduate schools, co-sponsored by CGS and the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Board. It is the only annual national survey that collects data on graduate enrollment by all fields of study and is the only source of national data on graduate applications by broad field of study. The report, which includes responses from 625 institutions, presents statistics on graduate applications and enrollment for Fall 2016, degrees conferred in 2015-16, and trend data for one-, five- and ten-year periods.

    ###

    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. 

    New Report Highlights Promise of Holistic Graduate Admissions to Increase Diversity
    Tuesday, January 19, 2016

    Contact: Katherine Hazelrigg
    (202) 461-3888 / khazelrigg@cgs.nche.edu

     

    Washington, D.C. — The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) today released a report that outlines the findings of a year-long research project on holistic graduate admissions. Supported by Hobsons, the project takes a look at emerging best practices and surveys more than 500 university admissions professionals to better understand the current state of graduate admissions at U.S. institutions.

     

    Around the country, colleges and universities are adopting holistic graduate admissions processes in response to research finding that quantitative measures of student merit, such as standardized test scores and GPA, may not accurately predict success in graduate school and may disadvantage underrepresented, non-traditional, and older students. Holistic review, also known as whole-file or comprehensive review, considers a broad range of characteristics, including noncognitive and personal attributes, when reviewing applications. Higher education leaders consider holistic review a promising practice for achieving diverse cohorts of students with varied experience, backgrounds, and expertise.

     

    “This is an opportune moment for graduate schools and programs to prepare to re-evaluate their admissions processes, as graduate institutions await the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Fisher II and continue to grapple with what it means to create inclusive campuses,” said CGS President Suzanne T. Ortega. “This timely report provides context and guidance for graduate schools and their institutional partners.”

     

    Holistic Review in Graduate Admissions reports the results of a survey of over 500 universities on their current practices and emerging needs in graduate admissions; a two-day intensive workshop of researchers, graduate deans, admissions professionals and other experts; and a review of the scholarly literature. The study surfaces promising practices and recommendations for graduate institutions seeking to learn more about or to implement holistic admissions processes, and provides an overview of existing resources for institutions.

     

    Among the report’s key findings:

     

    • Decentralized graduate admissions processes pose special challenges for implementing holistic review.
    • More data is needed: 81 percent of graduate school staff respondents called for more data that demonstrate the link between admissions criteria and student success in graduate school.
    • Articulating their diversity objectives and tying them to the missions of their institutions will make it easier for graduate schools to build a compelling case for the need to review admissions practices.
    • Holistic review is widely viewed as a useful strategy for improving diversity of higher education; early evidence also suggests that holistic admissions processes are associated with improved student outcomes.
    • The graduate education community would benefit from a clearer understanding of what constitutes a truly “holistic” graduate admissions process for master’s and doctoral candidates.
    • 58 percent of all survey respondents reported that limited staff and faculty time is the greatest barrier to performing more holistic admissions processes.

     

    The report recommends deliberately tying admissions processes to institutional and program missions and emphasizes the importance of data-driven decisions. It also encourages universities to ensure that all students, once admitted, are provided learning environments that make it possible for them to succeed.

     

    “While academic achievements are important, we know that long-term student success depends on a variety of factors that make up a whole person,” said Stephen M. Smith, President of Advising and Admissions Solutions at Hobsons. “We’re proud to support the work of CGS to increase access to graduate education and improve graduate student outcomes by helping institutions find applicants who are the right fit during the admissions process and then to provide support on campus until they reach their goals.”

     

    A complimentary copy of the report can be accessed at http://cgsnet.org/innovation-graduate-admissions-through-holistic-review.

    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.

     

    Hobsons helps students identify their strengths, explore careers, create academic plans, match to best-fit educational opportunities, and reach their education and life goals. Through our solutions, we enable thousands of educational institutions to improve college and career planning, admissions and enrollment management, and student success and advising for millions of students around the globe.

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    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.