Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2005 to 2015

Now available from CGS.


Applications and first-time enrollment in U.S. graduate programs continue to grow. For only the second time since the survey was initiated in 1986, the number of applications for master’s and research doctoral programs has surpassed two million. Institutions responding to the survey reported a total of 506,927 graduate students enrolling for the first time in Fall 2015, a record high.

Domestic first-time graduate enrollment is increasing. The 3.8% increase in first-time graduate enrollment among U.S. citizens and permanent residents is sizable compared to the changes between Fall 2013 and Fall 2014 (1.3%). U.S. citizens and permanent residents also continue to constitute the majority of first-time graduate students enrolled in U.S. institutions (78.0% in Fall 2015).

Robust first-time graduate enrollment increases at public institutions. First-time graduate enrollment at public institutions rose by 4.9%, compared to the 1.8% increase at private, not-for-profit institutions.

First-time international graduate enrollment growth slows down. First-time graduate enrollment of international students rose by 5.7%, a rate considerably lower than in recent years. This change in growth also occurred within the broad fields of study, particularly in engineering and mathematics and computer sciences where growth slowed substantially.

Total graduate enrollment continues to be at. Despite increases in applications and first-time graduate enrollment, total enrollment remains relatively unchanged since its peak in 2013, a reflection of lower growth in first-time enrollment in previous years.

Strong growth in URM first-time graduate enrollment. Between Fall 2014 and Fall 2015, increases in first-time graduate enrollment for all underrepresented minority (URM) groups were greater than for White, non-Hispanic counterparts.

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