Graduate schools across the country experienced a significant increase in the enrollment of minority students during the last academic school year, according to a annual report released last week by a major graduate school advocacy group.
The report, authored by the Council of Graduate Students, found that minority students, both domestic and international, composed 28 percent of the overall graduate student population during the 2006-2007 academic school year, compared to 26 percent the previous year. In addition, every minority group saw at least a three percent increase in enrollment.
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“The ongoing gains in the participation of women and minority students in graduate education are very encouraging,” said Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council, in a press release.
By far, the fastest growing demographic this year was Native American students, with a nine percent increase in enrollment. In the last decade, Hispanic students have also increased their presence, becoming the fastest-growing minority group overall.
Women continued to outnumber men at most graduate institutions, making up 59 percent of the graduate student population, an increase of two percent from the previous year. And in master’s programs, women constituted 67 percent of the pool.
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The total graduate population increased by two percent last year—the same proportional increase experienced by minority students.
Theda Skocpol, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), emphasized Harvard’s commitment to recruiting the “best and the brightest” from all over the world.
“It’s not just a question of admissions numbers,” said Skocpol. “It’s making sure that even after an applicant is admitted, he or she knows that Harvard is the best place for them, especially in support and mentoring. We’re committed to getting the word out that Harvard is a possibility.”
Patrick Hamm, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology and the communications officer for the Graduate Student Council at GSAS, said that he was excited by the news.
“I think it’s ultimately a good thing for Harvard,” Hamm said. “I’ve felt that the level of intellectual quality in graduate students has been increasing.”
But, he said, despite their increased presence on campus, international students still face a number of financial and academic hurdles, including ineligibility for many grants.
“Honestly, having minority representation at the graduate level is a great thing,” said Kyle M. Brown, the president of the Graduate Student Council, who is studying molecular and cellular biology. “Liberal arts education was traditionally for those with enough money to sit around and think about things, and this is a big change, forcing us to come down from the ‘Ivory Tower.’”
The Dec. 4 article "Grad Schools Rise in Diversity" contained three errors. The report mentioned in the article was published by
the Council of Graduate Schools, not the Council of Graduate Students.
The article implied that each minority population examined in the report—including international and domestic students—increased its enrollment in graduate programs by at least 3 percent, but in fact this figure only
applied to domestic students. Finally, the article stated that women
constitute 67 percent of the enrollment in master's programs. In fact, the
report found that women make up 65 percent of the enrollment in master's
programs at schools that only offer master's-level degrees; women
enrolled in master's programs at schools which have doctoral programs
were not included in the 65 percent figure.