Despite a national downward trend in graduate school applications to large, private universities, the Business School and the School of Design, as well as schools at MIT, have experienced an increase in applications this year.
"Harvard Business School applications are substantially up, approaching an alltime high," Lawrence E. Fouraker, dean of the Business School, said yesterday.
Walter A. Gagne, registrar and assistant dean of the Graduate School of Design, said that there is "maybe a 10-per-cent increase" in applicants over last year, but he said official figures will not be available until April 10.
But Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) applications are virtually the same this year as last, numbering about 5000, Peter S. McKinney, associate dean of the GSAS, said yesterday.
"There is a fairly stable number of applicants as compared with last year, but the general quality of the applicants has gone up," McKinney said.
"There has been a dropping off of some of the marginal applicants and some of the very outstanding applicants, who have applied to professional schools instead," he said.
Applications to Harvard's programs in engineering and applied sciences decreased, while physics applications, which had declined recently, increased.
By January 15, the preliminary closing date for applications, MIT recorded a 7-per-cent increase in applicants compared to statistics from the same time last year, according to Irwin W. Sizer, dean of the graduate school at MIT.
"MIT is a special case for two reasons: our reputation for professional excellence and out ability to aid graduate students financially," Sizer said.
He cited a report by a Columbia University group that ranked MIT's graduate program in engineering first nationally, the architecture program second after Berkeley's, and the business school sixth.
"These ratings are very important," he said. "Students heading for graduate school read these things very carefully and act upon them."
But Fouraker disagreed with the importance of the Columbia study, saying the rankings are invalid because various graduate schools are not comparable.
"The Business School has different objectives from most other business schools; it is much more practitioner oriented, producing management people rather than scholars and researchers," Fouraker said.
MIT's Sizer said that one factor leading to an increase in that school's applicant pool is the large amount of financial aid available.
MIT has more research assistantships than any other institution, supporting 33 per cent of all its students, Sizer said.
MIT has also been very successful in attracting students who have won National Science foundation graduate fellowships, attracting 12 to 14 per cent of all NSF fellows. "MIT competes with Harvard in attracting NSF fellows; MIT is usually first or second," he said.