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Health, Education and Business - 3 Largest Fields of Graduate Study in USA

The Council of Graduate school's latest report explores the trends in U.S. graduate education. Which fields are popular? How are international students driving growth? Read below to find out.
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   18-09-2015

Washington, DC — The contributions of international graduate students are becoming increasingly important to the U.S. graduate education enterprise, according to the annual report by the Council of Graduate Schools. From 2004 to 2014, international students accounted for over two-thirds of the growth in first time enrollment at U.S. graduate institutions. International students are also more likely than their domestic counterparts to study in STEM fields, which have showed the greatest growth.

Overall, there has been a 3.5% one-year increase in first-time graduate enrollment between Fall 2013 and Fall 2014—the largest since 2009. Institutions responding to the CGE/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment & Degrees received more than 2.1 million applications for Fall 2014, extended over 850,000 offers of admission in Fall 2014, and enrolled nearly 480,000 incoming, first-time graduate students in fall 2014 graduate certificate, education specialist, master’s or doctoral programs—all new highs.

65.9% of all temporary resident graduate students were enrolled in biological and agricultural sciences, engineering, mathematics and computer sciences, physical and earth sciences, or social and behavioral sciences.In contrast, only 27.1% of U.S. citizen/permanent residentGraduate students were enrolled in these fields.

The three largest broad fields of study in Fall 2014, were business, education and health sciences. These three broad fields collectively represented 43.4% of first time graduate enrollments where fields were known. These fields were also likely to enroll part-time students.

CGS President Suzanne T. Ortega emphasized that enrollment growth is critical to meeting the needs of the U.S.economy. “The increase in overall enrollments is good news, but the disparity between U.S. and international growth is a cause for concern.

Ortega pointed to data from the Bureau of Labor Statisticsprojecting employers to add nearly 2.4 million jobs requiring a graduate degree or higher between 2012 and 2022. At this rate, Ortega said, additional master’s and doctoral degree holders are needed to make that projected result possible. “Greater investments in graduate education and research— supporting both domestic and international students—will be required to keep up with the demand for graduate level talent in the future,” Ortega said.


The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of over 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.



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