Students begin taking graduate classes their senior year if they are pursuing an accelerated master’s degree at Chapman. Photo by Vanessa Gonzalez.


Only 24.8% of Chapman University students plan to attend graduate school full time after graduation, while 75.2% do not have an interest in pursuing a master’s degree states an infographic from the Institutional Research Office.

Over 1.97 million college students nationwide will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in 2019 according to the National Center for Education Statistics, but growth in graduate school enrollment in the U.S. remains flat.

“The enrollment rates aren’t super high or low, but it’s pretty much remained the same,” said Amy Rogeness, the graduate coordinator at the School of Communication.

Chapman has an enrollment of about 7,300 undergraduate students and 2,300 graduate students according to the school website, so are these percentages normal?

These numbers are actually not uncommon, since college students across the nation are not interested in graduate school either.

 “Graduate college enrollment in Fall 2019 is expected to be about 5 percent lower than the peak of 21 million in fall 2010,” states an article by Lindsay Wayt, the analytics director for the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

The question remains: Why are rates declining in student graduate school enrollment?

A junior political science major is not interested in continuing her education after she graduates Chapman.

“I already spent four years of studying, why would I torture myself with more school?” the political science major said. “I just want to work.”

Applications for admission to graduate schools in the U.S. decreased by 1.8 percent between Fall 2016 and Fall 2017 according the National Association of College and University Business Officers. They have decreased at public institutions by 3.7 percent, but increased at private not-for-profit institutions by 1.4 percent.

At Chapman, students with specific majors have the option to enroll in the 4+1 program — a program that integrates students’ senior year with an extra school year to complete their master’s degree.

The 4+1 program was founded by Lisa Sparks, dean of the School of Communication, to teach students how to create and collect information that effectively changes health behavior.

Junior Mariah Fisher, a film production and strategic and coporate communications double major, is not interested in applying for graduate school because of the application process and exams that come with it.

“I’d be nervous about applying because it involves preparing for grad exams, and it feels like high school all over again with SATs.” Fisher said.

Although most majors do not have to worry about the GMAT or GRE exams to be considered for the 4+1, there is a lack of majors offered by the accelerated master’s program. Therefore, some students are still unaware of the program.

Sophomore strategic and corporate communications major Shereyna Shinboo did not know anything about it until it was talked about in one of her classes.

“It’s an interesting program and I would like to know more information about it, but it’s not something mentioned by professors ever.” Shinboo said.

If universities were to encourage their students to continue their studies maybe graduate school enrollment rates would not be low, said Shinboo.

Danielle Cobb, the academic records coordinator, said that the university has plans to expand its 4+1 program to other majors, but it does not have a set time when they will introduce those programs to its students.

School of Communication professor Hannah Ball encourages her students to apply to expand their career options.

“If you’re a journalism major you can still apply for the Masters of Health and Strategic Communication degree,” Ball said. “It’s just research.”

Students need to have a minimum 3.0 cummulative GPA and submit a personal statement on how the 4+1 program can benefit personal career goals, said Ball.

There are many other graduate schools nationwide that students have the option to apply to, and the University of California, Berkeley is one of the top five best graduate schools on the West Coast according to U.S. News.

Camille Koué, the director of admissions at the University of California, Berkeley, believes the decrease in the rate of graduate student enrollment comes from the cost of attending another university.

“Just like attending a four year, it’s pricey and adding an extra two years adds onto the cost.” Koué said.

Yet one of the advantages of going back to school is also the money.

Adults who earn their master’s degree are reported to get paid a higher annual salary that can be increased by 20% said Koué.

Even though graduate school may not be for everyone and the spoils can vary widely, the lack of interest and cost of graduate school hold students from continuing their education.

Vanessa Gonzalez
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