Graduate School applications rise 10 percent
by Cass Cliatt
Princeton’s Graduate School admitted 1,068 of the 10,135 applicants who applied for the 2009-10 academic year, with the strength of the school’s financial aid program contributing to a 10 percent increase in the number of students applying to master’s and doctoral programs.
The 10.5 percent overall admission rate is down from the 13 percent of applicants who were admitted from last year’s pool of 9,238 applicants. The number of admitted students who accepted the school’s offer of admission by the April 15 postmark deadline was 575, or about 54 percent, an increase over last year’s 51 percent.
“We saw interest in both the quality of our programs and also the sustained quality of our financial aid program, because we are still able to make full offers of support covering five years,” Graduate School Associate Dean for Academic Affairs David Redman said.
The University’s Board of Trustees in January approved a 3 percent increase in all graduate student stipends. Graduate students across disciplines receive various combinations of departmental and fellowship aid to receive full support. The standard University fellowship is $25,750.
“The increase in stipends enables us to provide competitive offers to those we admit,” Redman said. “I think we saw the effect of the economy in our applicant pools, but it was not the only factor.”
Increased recruiting efforts and the growing availability of information about the school’s academic programs likely combined with the effects of the economic downturn to also contribute to the increase in applicants, Redman said.
Expanded recruitment efforts include a Web page that displays detailed information about academic programs and campus life, coupled with the Graduate School holding student hosting and other events on and off campus. This was complemented by staff in individual departments and programs who routinely travel across the country and around the world to universities, colleges and graduate fairs to contact and recruit students from diverse backgrounds.
Among the applicants, there were 252 African Americans, 282 Hispanics, 25 Native Americans and 681 Asian Americans. Of these 1,240 American minority group students who applied, 160 received offers of admission. Women made up 382 or 35.8 percent of all admitted students, while 686 men made up 64.2 percent of admitted students.
International applications numbered 4,556, which is an increase of 8.8 percent from last year’s 4,189. Among international applicants, 351 were admitted, down from 403 last year, with the largest number of admitted students this year hailing from China, India, Canada, France and Germany.
Academic fields admitting the highest numbers of their applicants were
engineering and natural sciences, which admitted 14 percent and 13.5 percent of
their applicants, respectively. The percentages of admitted applicants for
other fields were 12 percent for the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and
7.6 percent for departments in the humanities, 7 percent for social sciences and 6 percent for architecture.
Market forces undoubtedly affected the number of applications in certain disciplines, Redman said. For example, programs such as architecture, whose applicants work in a sector that is very sensitive to an economic downturn, saw a great increase in applications, while the master’s in finance saw a decrease, Redman said.
“Applications for the School of Architecture were up 30 percent, as you have people in the field of architecture applying in greater numbers to increase their skills during a time when there is less building taking place in the industry and therefore fewer opportunities in the job market,” Redman said. “On the other hand, in the case of finance, if individuals have a job in this volatile market, they might be more inclined to remain in that job to hold on to it, rather than leave that job to pursue more education.”
Applications for the master’s in finance decreased 10.6 percent, while the average increase in applications across disciplines was in the range of 5 to 10 percent.
The average standardized Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores for admitted graduate students were 618 out of 800 on the verbal section, 735 out of 800 on the quantitative section and 4.6 out of 6 on the analytical writing section.
“We continue to see exceptional quality in the applicant pool, which contributes to a diverse and intellectually rich group of students to work with our faculty,” Redman said.
The Graduate School expects total fall enrollment to be slightly over 2,100 students in their first five years of study, compared to last year’s opening enrollment figure of about 2,180 students. An additional estimated 300 students are expected to be in the Dissertation Completion Enrollment status held by students completing the dissertation portion of their degree requirement, compared to 275 students this year.