Monday, March 30, 2009

Ph.D. Admissions Shrinking

If ever there was a year that colleges were anxious about enrolling new and continuing students, this is it. Whether dependent on tuition revenue or state appropriations formulas, colleges are doing everything they can think of in this economically challenging year to attract students -- and the dollars that follow them.

But there is a notable exception: Several colleges have recently announced that, regardless of application quality, they plan to admit fewer Ph.D. students for this coming fall than were admitted a year ago. The economics of doctoral education are different enough from those of other programs that some universities' doctoral classes will be taking a significant hit, with potential ramifications down the road for the academic job market, the availability of teaching assistants, and the education of new professors.

Emory University plans a 40% cut in the number of new Ph.D. students it will enroll this fall. Columbia University is planning a 10% cut. Brown University has called off a planned increase in Ph.D. enrollments. The University of South Carolina is considering a plan to have some departments that have admitted doctoral students every year shift to an every-other-year system. These cuts are exclusively for Ph.D. programs. Terminal master's programs and professional school programs are generally being encouraged to fill their classes; those programs are of course ones in which many universities assume students will pay most or all costs themselves, using loans as needed.

The economic difference between Ph.D. and non-Ph.D. students is that the former tend to be supported with tuition waivers and stipends, while many of the latter pay their own way or bring in federal or other aid, such that colleges (beyond the altruistic reasons for educating students) are bringing in money, too. Doctoral students at many universities receive full support from their universities, creating a very different dynamic -- especially coupled with the need to make large cuts in budgets.

Inside Higher Ed

9 Comments:

At 3/30/2009 12:41 PM, Blogger Audacity17 said...

This is interesting. I just got my admissions packet in the mail for a doctoral program in economics.

 
At 3/30/2009 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doctoral students should pay their own freight. There is certain irony in PhD's who attend on stipends and waivers, then advise the world that liberal redistribution of wealth schemes are unfair or ineffective when they, themselves, have been enriched by similar redistribution methods.

Undergraduate and graduate students use loans, grants, and scholarship dollars to pay their way. The university redistributes a portion of that revenue toward doctoral students giving them a free ride via "stipends" and "waivers". Take away the support and let the free market forces drive doctoral studies.

 
At 3/30/2009 2:49 PM, Blogger Bruce Hall said...

The "economics" of this change simply reflect the same dynamics of the assembly lines: why invest so many resources for an over-priced "domestic" when so many cheap "imports" are available?

Hurts when it hits close to home, eh?

 
At 3/30/2009 2:57 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

Less PHDs = Professors with fatter paychecks no?

 
At 3/30/2009 3:25 PM, Blogger DaveinHackensack said...

"Doctoral students should pay their own freight."

They generally do, through a form of indentured servitude.

"Less PHDs = Professors with fatter paychecks no?"

More like fewer PhDs = fewer underemployed PhDs complaining about the lack of professor jobs.

 
At 3/30/2009 3:28 PM, Blogger misterjosh said...

I'm a so-called "professional" but I have friends in the academic world. From what I understand, the agreement goes like this. The PhD candidate agrees to be an indentured servant in exchange for a PhD education. The school generally gets a great deal, while the student gets an opportunity that may or may not amount to something really good.

The pay for these labors comes from corporations across the world, and those corporations are, for the most part, hurting at the moment. Thus, there is less need for laborers.

 
At 3/30/2009 6:00 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"Undergraduate and graduate students use loans, grants, and scholarship dollars to pay their way"...

Hmmm, are they using taxpayer dollars for ANY part of those, 'loans, grants, and scholarship dollars' or are you just making noise?

"Hurts when it hits close to home, eh?"...

Bizzare statement...

Why would it hurt Professor Mark?

He's got his Phd already...

 
At 3/31/2009 9:47 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Perhaps the situation should be switched. If you make it to doctoral level, then you pay.

 
At 3/31/2009 3:36 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"Perhaps the situation should be switched. If you make it to doctoral level, then you pay"...

Pay for what sethstorm?

I'm wondering how many leftist, liberal faux science (i.e. man made global weather change) post grad disciplines are being financed by the taxpayer?

 

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