Graduating at the U: More grad degrees handed out

By By Michael McFall

By Michael McFall

The number of graduate students earning their degrees is up by nearly 5 percent since 2003, increasing from about 27 percent in May 2003 to about 31 percent in May 2007.

The Colleges of Education and Engineering have seen the largest rise in the number of graduate degrees awarded, proportionate to the number of graduate students enrolled in the college that year. The College of Education has awarded11 percent more graduate degrees since 2003, and the College of Engineering’s rate of graduation has risen 14 percent.

However, colleges such as the College of Education might have higher graduation rates because they have shorter programs, said Paul Gore, director of the Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis.

The increase in the College of Engineering’s graduation rates is likely because of the new Master of Science degrees offered to graduate students in a number of its departments, which provide more choices and opportunities for graduate students, said Milind Deo, the college’s associate dean of student affairs.

Corresponding with the rise in graduation rates, the colleges are also awarding degrees in higher volume because the number of enrolled graduate students is steadily increasing. Last year, the College of Education awarded 84 more degrees than it did four years ago, and the College of Engineering awarded 119 more degrees than it did four years ago.

The next closest competitor of these two colleges, the College of Nursing, has seen a 9 percent rise in graduation rates since 2003. Many other colleges’ graduation rates have increased by 1 to 7 percent since 2003.

The rise in graduation rates is high enough that it has exceeded graduate school admittance rates.

Graduate students are also earning their degrees faster than the graduate school is admitting students. In the past four years, graduate students are graduating 2 percent faster than the U is bringing in new graduate students.

In August 2003, the Graduate School admitted 1,700 students, while 1,601 graduated the following May. Over the next four years, the gap widened, and while 1,767 students were admitted in August 2006, more than 2,000 graduates earned their degrees in May 2007.

However, some colleges aren’t following the trend.

The College of Fine Arts’ graduation rate for graduate students has dropped 9 percent compared to 2003. Last year, it awarded degrees to 13 fewer graduate students last year than it did in 2003.

Brent Schneider, the associate dean of the College of Fine Arts, said that the lower graduation rates are likely because of graduates spending more time on their degrees, the fewer graduate students entering the college and a lack of funding.

“We have limited physical space for our studios, so if a student takes longer to graduate…we can’t bring someone new in,” Schneider said.

Not only does the amount of working space for graduates limit and ultimately lower the number of students graduating, but the College of Fine Arts is losing students to other institutions because it cannot offer the same scholarships or funding, he said.

The College of Fine Arts plans to ensure more funding and scholarships as its primary objective for the next year, he said.

The Colleges of Pharmacy and Architecture have also seen declines in their graduation rates. Since 2003, the College of Architecture’s graduation rate for graduate students is down 5 percent and the College of Pharmacy is down 2 percent.

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