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UI graduate degree growth following national trend

BY ARIANA WITT | JANUARY 17, 2011 7:10 AM

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University of Iowa graduate-student programs are experiencing an overall increase in enrollment, with changes in programs following national trends.

The Council of Graduate Schools report on Graduate Enrollment and Degrees from 1999 to 2009 found graduate-student enrollment at public institutions increased around 4.6 percent annually.

UI graduate-student enrollment increased by approximately 6 percent in roughly the same time frame — from the fall of 1999 to the fall of 2010 — said John Keller, the dean of the UI Graduate College.

Enrollment increased 5 percent from the fall of 2009 to the fall of 2010.

Health-science programs at the UI — including nursing, public health, and dentistry — had one of the largest increases in the last decade at 8 percent. Nationally, the council found an increase of 6.1 percent in those areas.

“I feel certain changes in the programs have a lot to do with that,” Keller said. “Adding an M.S.N. in the nursing program, for example, can help draw more prestige and as a result many more students apply.”

Mary Aquilino, the associate dean for the Masters of Public Health program in the UI College of Public Health, said enrollment has increased over the last decade, with some years seeing as much as a 70 percent increase. But it’s hard to determine if such numbers are significant, given the relatively low overall numbers in the new program.

The college had 375 students enrolled in the fall of 2010.

Shannon Stubbs, a graduate student in public health, said she isn’t surprised to see more students enrolling in health sciences, but she is concerned about finding a public-health job after graduation.

But other programs defied national trends. The College of Education saw a 5 percent decrease in student enrollment, Keller said. Inversely, the council reported a 5.7 percent increase in education.

And the Tippie College of Business had a 1 percent decrease; enrollment in business programs increased by 4.5 percent nationwide.

Keller said the difference can be attributed to “target declines,” or programs purposely shrinking to better teach each student.

“It hasn’t been big declines by any means,” said David Bills, the associate dean for academic affairs and graduate programs in the education school. “Education is still a large area of enrollment. We put students in a lot of positions people need to be educated.”

Bills said changes because of staff shortages and program revamping may have resulted in some declines, but he feels things are steady for the most part.

“People are needed in my area, but I’m surprised, because they’re aren’t many people in the program,” said Ryann Sparrow, a UI graduate student in special education.

One area with little job growth and student growth is humanities. Though the area saw a 3 percent decrease in enrollment from 1999 to 2010, Keller said, it less of a decrease than anticipated.

“I would assume that had to do with the large emphasis humanities places on undergraduate general education and therefore a need for graduate students,” he said.


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