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Departments with low/no graduate enrollments worrysome?

  1. Aug 24, 2012 #1
    I have been looking at several graduate programs in astronomy/astrophysics and I've come across a few with track records of low enrollments according to AIP:


    Statistics from previous years: http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/archives/astrorost.htm

    Case Western, Ohio State and Rice University for example have had 0 or 1 graduate enrollments several years in a row, even when according to gradschoolshopper (who get their data from AIP, though I don't know where), they admit many more students than the number that actually enroll. The one with 0 enrollments several years straight was Rice U.

    I'm guessing this can mean one or more of the following:

    -The data is wrong.
    -More students are admitted that can be actually fully funded by the department, hence admitted students turn them down when they get offers with no/low tuition remission and stipend.
    -Students simply took up better offers elsewhere, somewhere with palm trees.

    Is this a warning sign to stay away from these universities or is it some error in the report? I quite like the programs at cwru and Ohio, I thought they had a very good reputation.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2012 #2

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    If you look on their web pages under "graduate student directory" or similar, do you see graduate students? Where do you think they came from?
  4. Aug 24, 2012 #3
    From storks. :)

    I have already looked at them. CWRU and Rice don't state the year they enrolled (Rice doesn't even state if they're in the physics or astronomy phd tracks) and Ohio only shows one grad student who graduated in 2010, which agrees with the AIP roster from 2010. But then again, any of the other students that graduated earlier could have enrolled that same year. I have already found some discrepancies between what grad departments report on their pages and what shows on the AIP roster.

    I am wondering if it's common for graduate departments to send out more offers of admission than they can actually afford to sponsor, hence the sometimes large difference between the number of admitted and enrolled students.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2012
  5. Aug 24, 2012 #4
    Extremely common. I would almost say they all do it. You never know how many people are going to enroll.

    That said, low enrollment isn't necessarily a red flag. Departments with a handful of students can give them really good support, and you can get to know everyone, which is critical when you want to get a job in the future.
  6. Aug 24, 2012 #5

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    If they have 75 grad students listed on their site, I would not worry about low enrollment.
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