NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A Paycheck Now -- And Grad School Later

May 20, 1999

The lure of high-paying jobs is persuading many college graduates to forego grad school for the present -- and that has some educators anxious.

  • Graduate enrollment has declined 1 percent to 2 percent since 1996, according to figures from the Council of Graduate Schools.
  • While that may seem mild, it masks significant declines in certain disciplines -- especially in the biological sciences, engineering and physical sciences.
  • Physics programs, for instance, have reported a 27 percent overall decrease in graduate enrollment nationwide since 1992.
  • Pockets of deep decline are offset by increases in the number of foreign students enrolling in U.S. graduate schools and by healthy enrollments in such areas as business schools and health care programs.

Some employers are reportedly offering starting salaries in the $40,000 to $50,000 range to students who have just taken off their caps and gowns. Others are offering signing bonuses in the $1,000 to $18,000 range.

Universities are fighting back by getting more aggressive in their own enrollment tactics. They are beefing up stipends offered to graduate students and trying to get undergrads hooked on research so they'll want to attend grad school.

Source: Lyndsey Layton, "More People Choosing Jobs Over Grad School, Educators Say," Washington Post, May 17, 1999.


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