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Programs Harder to get into PhD program this year?

  1. Dec 2, 2008 #1
    Will it be tougher to get into a PhD program this year due to the economic situation? I know at my school there have been budget cuts and I'm sure many other public univerisities are doing the same. I've also heard that a few private institutions have taken sizable hits to their endowment.

    There is also talk that since so many people were laid off and the job market is rough, these laid off workers will be applying for graduate school.

    I am very worried about all this. When I applied last year, a few schools said they were taking half the class size (both these schools were public uni's), and now with an even worse economic situation, I feel like the margin for admit is even slimmer.

    I have applied to 3 really good safety schools. But like I said, if everyone is taking smaller freshman classes, people like me get marginalized.

    Anyone else worried about this? Any professors here have any insight to maybe support or refute these notions about smaller incoming classes?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 2, 2008 #2
    Possibly budget cuts will effect the class size of incoming graduate students at a department. Some current graduate students will probably stick around and try not to graduate, whereas in a good economy, they'd probably try to get out. Generally tho', these are research assistant slots. TA (Teaching assistant) slots still will need to be filled (SOME of these slots are filled by upper-level students, but TA's are often first-year and second-year students' responsibilities... because by your later years you should be supported by a professor's grant). What also will work in your favor... some department might want high enrollments so that graduate courses can still be offered (with the budget cuts, some low-enrollment classes are going to be cut, at least at our institution... at both the graduate and undergrad level). So I wouldn't tend to worry as much about incoming class size. (Note: endowments generally effect undergraduate scholarships/tuitions in the admissions process... not graduate admissions. The endowments are taking a hit because they want to keep college affordable even as they have to give more financial aid because of reduced family incomes.)

    Like you state, I think the larger concern is that the number of competing applicants will be increased for whatever given number of graduate slots exist. Some undergraduates will not directly enter the workforce, and some people who are laid off will try to enter graduate school as a safety net. This is your bigger worry.

    I would say, however, that by applying to 3 safety schools, you've probably ok. You can worry about things that are out of your control.... but it will do you NO good.
  4. Dec 2, 2008 #3
    According to a professor I spoke, you should be okay. PhD program applications tend to be relatively stable, even in tough economic times (is there really going to be a flood of laid of financial guys applying to Physics/Math/Stat/Chemistry Phd programs?) However, during tough economic times, MBA programs, Medical/Dental/Pharmacy schools, Masters programs (esp in Computer Science) often see a large increase in applicants.
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