Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Graduate School expects graduate enrollment for fall 2008 to be the highest ever for the institution. As of mid-September, preliminary figures of graduate student enrollment reached 7,125-considerably higher than the previous record enrollment in fall 2007.
Officials at the Graduate School do not anticipate much change when final figures are reported to the Board of Regents in early October. In fact, graduate enrollment often continues to rise, as students are able to find funding at the last minute to pay their tuition.
The record numbers are reflected across the board in the graduate student population, particularly among historically underrepresented populations. Enrollment of African-American students is showing a 5.6 percent gain over last year, and Hispanic graduate student numbers have increased by 9.6 percent for the same period.
“The Graduate School has made graduate enrollment a priority, and I believe the concerted effort we have made working with departments in the past year is reflected in the increase in all numbers,” said Maureen Grasso, dean of the Graduate School.
The total enrollment number includes both new and returning students. The university also received a record number of applications for graduate study this year.
The Graduate School has seen a 22 percent increase in graduate enrollment between this fall and fall 2000. Historically, enrollment in master’s and doctoral programs experiences growth when there is a down turn in the economy. The steady increase over the last few years in graduate enrollment at the University of Georgia cannot be attributed solely to the need to retool skills or earn a graduate degree for job security, according to officials, who attribute initiatives taken by the Graduate School for much of the increase.
For example, the Graduate School initiative to optimize doctoral completion, aimed at recruiting and retaining doctoral students in an increasingly competitive market for the country’s most promising students, is a three-year undertaking that launched in January. It includes workshops and seminars not only to raise awareness among faculty and staff but also to offer strategies for working with this population of the student body at UGA.
“Noncompletion specifically of doctoral degrees takes a toll on students and institutions through emotional and financial costs, and there is a lack of return on everyone’s investment,” said Grasso. “Graduate degree holders by and large make significant contributions to our society, and at the very least, our country must have a highly educated citizenry to remain a global leader. We’re glad to see the increase in enrollment, and we want to make sure the University of Georgia continues to attract bright and motivated graduate students.”
For more information on graduate programs and initiatives, see www.grad.uga.edu.