Issues Facing Graduate Education

Oct 19, 2021 by

Graduate education in the United States is experiencing something of a crisis, even though 1 in 3 undergraduates enroll in Graduate Education. Student enrollment is down and there are concerns that programs’ are not preparing students for non-academic roles. There is a lack of diversity in graduate education. It is recognized by many that this is bad for America’s society and economy (De Pauw et al, 2019). The following are solutions to the graduate education problems. These can demonstrate that the sector offers value for money, improves careers prospects, and meets the needs and expectations of students.

Reducing Costs

The cost of graduate education can be prohibitively expensive. In recent years, funding has been cut to the sector by many states. To address this, leaders in graduate education can raise more revenue or cut costs. Cutting costs may be disadvantageous to the quality of education offered. It is possible to raise revenue by partnering with businesses, industry and others to generate revenues (Bell, 2015).  For example, enabling employers to directly sponsor the enrollment of one or a cohort of their employees in graduate education. Increasing revenue streams can not only maintain the quality of education but make graduate education more affordable especially for those from minorities (Thomas and Ashburn-Nardo, 2020).

Value for Money

Graduate education has been criticized for providing students with few non-academic opportunities. The sector is recommended to focus more on the skills that are in demand in the labor market. This may mean adjusting the curriculum and focusing more on transferable skills that are in demand with employers.   Here faculty professional development becomes a critical component for graduate instructors (Bell, 2015). This can help more students to secure high-paying positions and this can lead to increased applications to institutions.

Flexible Learning

The profile of the student body is changing. There are now more non-traditional learners such as those who are older and have families (Krieger, 2020). To increase enrolment and to provide people with the skills that they and employers require, flexible learning is essential. More online learning, for example, could help. Co-curricular engagement opportunities, such as career development and social opportunities should be developed to ensure that they are successful (Goldstein and Paulson, 2021). Online learning options could also help to reduce the cost of Graduate Education.

Improving Student Completion Rates

Many graduate education programs experience a high dropout rate. This could disincentivise many undergraduate students from enrolling in programs.  Institutions are recommended to analyze this problem and identity the structural and cultural issues that are driving up the attrition rates. Many racial minorities feel that graduate education is not inclusive (Thomas and Ashburn-Nardo, 2020). Data analytics can help and also ‘brainstorming sessions to identify how to decrease the dropout rate.

Future-Proofing Graduate Education

Students want and crave learning in new ways. Universities should leverage technology and advances in our understanding of how people learn to provide a better learning experience for students. Various toolkits can support this such as the Adapting by Design Toolkit. Part of the future-proofing of any institution is to take measures to ensure that it is more inclusive.

Working with Employers

Employers should be seen as key stakeholders. Their expectations and specific needs should be factored into the development of programs and curriculums. Graduates have to be aware of the requirements of employers and so do professors. This can lead to more job opportunities for recipients of qualifications. This would encourage more people to apply to graduate programs.

Support Applications

One way that universities could boost the number of applicants is by running workshops. These can help students to select the best programs’ and this would also increase the retention rate. It could give the university a competitive edge when it comes to attracting applications.

International Students

American graduate education institutions reputation among international students has declined in recent years. Institutions could do more to meet the expectations of international students. They should be seen as key stakeholders and not just as sources of revenue. Support with visas and other practical issues can encourage more international students to apply to institutions. Creating university continuous engagement with all graduate students increases retention rates. Regular efforts should be taken to ensure that they are part of a viable learning community.


How can technology be used to increase applications to Graduate Education?


Graduate Enrollment; Education Administration, Graduate Education, Graduate Education Solutions, Graduate Education; International students.


Bell, Nathan, Wendler, Cathy; Bridgeman, Brent, Cline, Fred, Millet, Catherine and McAllister, Patricia. (2015). The Path Forward: The Future of Graduate Education in the United States. Retrieved from:

DePauw, Karen, Moran, James, Roth, Don and Russel, William. (2019). Graduate  Education and the  Public Good. Council of Graduate Schools. Retrieved from:

Goldstein, A., & Paulson, K. (2021). Cultivating the Online Graduate Student Experience: Considerations for Creating Co-Curricular Opportunities. In Reshaping Graduate Education Through Innovation and Experiential Learning (pp. 212-231). IGI Global. Retrieved from:

Krieger, Kathy.  (2020, March 24). Graduate Studies and Campus Closures. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from:

Thomas, K., & Ashburn-Nardo, L. (2020). Black lives matter… still: moving beyond acknowledging the problem toward effective solutions in graduate training and education. Equality. Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal. Retrieved from:

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