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U of M graduate programs attracting fewer students

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The number of graduate students enrolling at the University of Minnesota is on the decline, with the drop in some programs in the double digits.

MPR reports a 9 percent erosion in the overall enrollment in graduate study in the past five years, with an 11 percent decrease in the number of students from the U.S. who are pursuing master’s and professional programs.

According to university data, business programs have seen the sharpest drop, with a 24 percent drop in enrollment. Other programs experiencing a systemwide double-digit decline include education (13 percent), and arts and humanities (17 percent). On the Twin Cities campus, programs experiencing a steep drop include the College of Biological Sciences (22 percent), and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs (16 percent).

The trend was noted by the Minnesota Daily last summer. The story said that while applications to the University of Minnesota continue to rise, graduate enrollment across the University’s five campuses decreased more than 6 percent from 2006 to 2012. The story said that nationally, enrollment has risen by 16 percent between 2005 and 2010.

An uncertain economy along with a high level of student debt and a reduction in government funding for student aid are factors contributing to the problem. In addition, university funds for paid work for graduate students is stagnant or dropping.

The university has admitted more foreign students to close the gap. Earlier this week, a new survey found that Minnesota ranks as No. 19 on a national list for educating foreign students at its colleges and universities, with 13,232 foreign students last year.

MPR's story says that top officials at the university have called for a review of graduate education. The Pioneer Press noted that in President Eric Kaler's second State of the University address, he said that some graduate programs were not worth keeping, although officials have not specified which might be on the chopping block.

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