Grad Schools Going Strong Popular graduate programs trend toward science and technology

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In today’s world of sky-high college tuition bills and endless debt, graduate school may seem like a lost cause, unless you’re pursuing the ultimate dream of becoming a doctor, lawyer or another ambitious career trajectory.

But here in the Charm City, enrollment in graduate schools at several universities remains high. And it isn’t just the operating room or the courtroom that has graduate students flocking to the classroom.

Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger Business School of Business and Management offers seven different graduate programs, three of which are aimed at earning a Master of Business Administration. Newly appointed dean Kathleen Getz says the Professional’s MBA program is the most popular because it allows students to become “really immersed in business.”

“It’s a more general degree than the others and will be applicable across many endeavors,” she said.

The Professional’s MBA program offers an evening-only course schedule for students who work during the day. Getz said this is impo

Sellinger also offers an Executive MBA program for slightly older professionals who are farther along with their careers, as well as an Emerging Leaders MBA program that can be completed in one year and is targeted at students who recently finished their undergraduate degree.

Getz said the Professional’s MBA program’s popularity can be attributed to the fact than many business professionals over the age of 50 already have an MBA, making the Executive MBA program less suitable to that demographic. She said enrollment in other programs at Sellinger such as the Master of Science in Finance are much lower, which came as a surprise to her.

“At other institutions where I’ve been, it’s been a very, very popular degree,” she said.

Getz said overall enrollment at Sellinger has gone down, which is consistent with a national trend found at business schools across the United States. She thinks increased competition is behind this, pointing out the addition of graduate business degree like Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School, founded in 2007.

“It’s been a real challenge because there have been new entrants into the graduate education market,” she said.

Getz adds Sellinger’s enrollment suffers due to the fact that it is located outside of downtown Baltimore. Yet she also feels there is room to grow for business schools due to the increased need for analytical people with specialized knowledge.

She said some of the more interactive courses, like one that involves managing a portfolio, tend to be popular with the younger crowd. “They’re hands-on, they’re working with the software that is used in the industry,” she said.

The idea of being a part-time professional and a part-time student also seems to be showing up in other areas of graduate education, such as the policy arena. Brandon Boulter, assistant dean for marketing and admissions at Johns Hopkins’ Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, said there is one campus in Washington, D.C. that is well-attended by many of these people. The campus is located in the Bernstein-Offit Building at 1717 Massachusetts Ave., in Northwest D.C., close to Dupont Circle.

“I think because so many people are involved in policy, there’s so much market want for that program,” he said.

Boulter said these students commonly live in either Washington or its Northern Virginia and Maryland suburbs. They are already working but are looking to “move up in the corporate chain.” He said online courses are popular with students at the DC campus but added that there is always a brick-and-mortar option.

“We have the on-the-ground component,” he said. “When we offer a course online, we also teach that course on ground.”

Boulter feels the faculty is the main component that sets the graduate programs at Johns Hopkins apart from the rest.

“Our faculty members are very entwined in their discipline and communicate with industry professionals,” he said.

Moving in a slightly more traditional direction for graduate school, The University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine offers 12 different Master’s and Ph.D. programs as part of its Graduate Program in Life Sciences. Dudley Strickland, a professor in the school, said GPILS has become popular in recent years because students are able to move between the different programs.

He said Molecular Medicine and Molecular Microbiology & Immunology have both attracted a number of students due to topics covered such as DNA sequencing and vaccine development. Strickland singled out cancer biology as an application of these fields that has become popular with many students.

“The students are interested in that because it’s very applicable to translational work,” he said.

Strickland attributes the increased interest in life sciences to advances in imaging technology, along with the increasing amount of information about the human genome.
“Science is changing pretty rapidly,” he said. “I think in terms of the biomedical sciences, there’s tremendous discoveries that are being made.”

Another aspect to graduate programs in the sciences is the increasing number of women in the field, but this trend is coupled with a declining number of men. Strickland estimates about 46 percent of GPILS’ 293 students are men, and that number will continue to go down.

“When I look at our recent classes that come in it’s more like 30 percent guys,” he said. —Daniel Schere

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