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Graduate applications increase 11 percent

Graduate applications to the University grew by double-digit figures for this fall, the result of a new emphasis on recruiting as well as a concerted effort to improve student stipends.

“Part of the strategic plan is to aggressively increase graduate enrollment,” said Provost Mary Ann Swain, who presented the figures to University Council members last week. “I’m pleased to see our recruiting efforts show this kind of progress.”

Graduate applications totaled 3,247 for fall 2007, up from 2,915 for fall 2006. That’s an 11 percent jump, said Nancy Stamp, dean of the Graduate School. International graduate student enrollment grew by 31 percent from 2006 to 2007, according to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.

Graduate students now account for about 20 percent of the University’s overall enrollment of more than 14,000.

Stamp noted that Binghamton’s graduate-level offerings have not historically enjoyed the same visibility or reputation as its undergraduate program. “We’ve realized that graduate education has become just as competitive,” she said. “The graduate school hasn’t done a lot in the way of recruitment, but now we need to get creative.”

That means sending representatives to graduate recruiting fairs, especially at other State University of New York campuses and at some liberal arts colleges in New York. It also means improving the Graduate School’s Web site so students who seek more information about a program or faculty member can find what they need easily. For doctoral programs, faculty members and alumni need to talk to potential applicants not only in New York, but across the country and abroad.

Stamp noted that the University does have additional capacity in its graduate programs, so boosting applications leads directly to additional enrollment.
She believes Binghamton’s recent push to raise graduate stipends has helped attract students who might otherwise not have been able to accept offers from the University. “It’s another message that this is a quality place,” Stamp said of the stipends, which now are in at least the 75th percentile nationally.

Stamp hopes to see continued double-digit growth in graduate applications for another year or two, at which point the Graduate School will re-evaluate its recruiting efforts. “We have redoubled our efforts this fall and hope to do even better next time,” she said.
Rising graduate enrollment is central to the University’s mission as a public institution in part because people increasingly need graduate-level degrees to be competitive in the workplace.

“Today, you really need to have advanced work beyond a bachelor’s degree for a successful career,” Stamp said. “It’s not just about expanding or deepening your expertise, it’s about honing professional skills like communication, teamwork and seeing the big picture.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08