Graduate School applications rise almost 10 percent

Princeton University's Graduate School admitted 1,183 of the 11,123 applicants who applied for the 2010-11 academic year, with notable interest in new science doctoral degrees and the strength of the school's financial aid program contributing to a 9.7 percent increase in the number of students applying for master's and doctoral programs.

The 10.6 percent overall admission rate is similar to last year, reflecting an increase in the number of students admitted this year compared with the 1,058 students admitted from last year's pool of 10,135 applicants. The rise in the number of admitted students was largely due to the launch of the multidisciplinary program in quantitative and computational biology and the admission of a second class in the neuroscience program, as well as a planned growth in chemistry coinciding with the opening of the new Chemistry Building next academic year.

The number of admitted students who accepted the school's offer of admission by the April 15 postmark deadline was 636, or almost 54 percent, compared to last year's yield of 52 percent.

"The Graduate School has recently put an emphasis on leadership through education. In addition to providing extremely strong academic and research programs, students are encouraged to become intellectual and global leaders," Graduate School Associate Dean for Academic Affairs David Redman said. "Students can translate the skills they gain here into many areas of endeavor: academia, of course, but also entrepreneurship, public service and other fields."

Nearly all departments and programs experienced a rise in applications this year, with particularly strong growth in economics and mechanical and aerospace engineering, each of which experienced increases of 20 percent or more in applications from last year.

A modest increase in the University's graduate student stipends coupled with the ongoing effects of the economic downturn likely also contributed to the rise in applicants, Redman said. The standard 12-month University fellowship will be $26,000 in 2010-11.

"Our ability to maintain our financial aid program and make a robust number of admission offers at a time when some schools were forced to cut offers was an important strength for Princeton," Redman said.

The school this year continued its expanded recruitment efforts, with staff from the Graduate School and individual departments and programs traveling in the United States and internationally to encourage applicants from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. The school's Office of Diversity also continues to grow its mentoring and support programs for enrolled graduate students of color.

The number of international applicants increased 15 percent, with 5,243 applicants compared with last year's 4,556. Among international students, 418 were admitted, up from 350 last year. International students were admitted from 68 countries, with the largest number coming from China, Canada, India, Korea and France.

Among the total applicants, there were 806 Asian Americans, 371 Hispanics, 247 African Americans and nine Native Americans. Of these 1,433 American minority group students who applied, 166 received offers of admission. Following new federal guidelines for the collection of race and ethnicity information, applicants for the first time this year had the option of identifying themselves in more than one race or ethnicity category. The new self-identification options mean this year's figures for American minority groups cannot be exactly compared to applicant data from previous years.

This year also marked the school's first paperless application process, with students submitting applications online and department faculty and Graduate School staff reviewing applications through an online database. The electronic review process was done with an eye toward the University's overall environmental sustainability efforts, among other factors, Redman said.

For all admitted students, women made up 433 or 37 percent, while 750 men made up 63 percent of admitted students.

Academic fields admitting the highest numbers of their applicants were natural sciences and mathematics with 16 percent admitted, and engineering with 13 percent admitted. The percentage of admitted applicants for other fields was 11 percent for the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, 8 percent for humanities, 7 percent for social sciences and 6 percent for the School of Architecture.

The average Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores for admitted graduate students were 633 out of 800 on the verbal section and 738 out of 800 on the quantitative section -- both up from last year's averages -- and 4.6 out of 6 on the analytical writing section, which is the same as last year.

"We continue to see intellectual and talented applicants from around the world, which creates a rich community of scholars within our departments and programs," Redman said.

The Graduate School expects total fall enrollment to be slightly more than 2,225 students in their first five years of study, compared to last year's opening enrollment figure of about 2,179 students. An additional estimated 315 students are expected to be in the Dissertation Completion Enrollment status held by students completing the dissertation portion of their degree requirement, compared to 271 students as of opening enrollment this year.