Grad schools see rise in applications

Last year, some officials in GW’s graduate schools were nervous about prospective graduate admissions; they thought the economy would lower their numbers.

This year, they are happy to be wrong.

The Elliott School of International Affairs reported the largest numbers of applications in the school’s history, and the University’s entire graduate program saw a 13 percent increase in master’s degree applicants and a 7 percent increase in doctoral applicants, said Kristin Williams, assistant vice president for graduate and special enrollment management.

“If you had asked me in January where would we be, I would have said enrollments might be flat or up a little, so I am perfectly happy to be wrong,” Williams said.

Graduate programs in the School of Business, Elliott School, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, School of Engineering and Applied Science, College of Professional Studies, and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences saw an increase in applications and all but the medical school saw a higher yield for fall 2009.

A program’s yield reflects the percentage of admitted students who enroll at a college.

With a higher number of qualified applicants, many programs were able to be more selective, while others admitted a larger class than in previous years, admission representatives said.

This fall, the Columbian College enrolled 557 graduate students, compared to last year’s class of 446 students. The School of Public Health and Health Services enrolled 368 students in 2009 – up 80 students from 2008.

Blaine Parrish, associate dean for student affairs in SPHHS, said this year’s admissions were most successful in the 11-year history of the school.

The Elliott School received a record number of applicants and a near-record high yield in admitted applications. The largest graduate program in the school is the master’s program in International Affairs, which reported a yield of 38 percent for fall 2009, compared to 31 percent the previous year.

“At best, we were expecting enrollments to be about the same as the previous year, but due to the higher yield, we enrolled a larger class,” Jeff Miles, director of graduate admissions for the Elliott School, said.

Some officials said they think the spike in numbers is due to the exciting change in the political climate, while others argue that the economic downturn is driving more students without jobs to go back to school. All, though, agreed the increased numbers represent a growing awareness of the quality of GW grad programs.

“GW is very well-positioned to take advantage of students interested in leadership and public service,” said Judith Stockmon, executive director for graduate admissions in the School of Business. “That’s part of our value as a graduate program.”

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