Education Graduate Enrollment Above the Fold
Graduate enrollment in the UA College of Education and Health Professions consistently exceeds those of other UA colleges, a UA official said.
Fall graduate enrollment for the college reached 1,163 students, according to the university’s 11th day enrollment report. The CoEHP has 246 more graduate students enrolled this fall than the largest college on campus, Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
The CoEHP offers more graduate programs than other academic colleges, with 11 doctoral programs and 14 master’s programs, said Michael Miller, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of higher education.
“I think the economy certainly has something to do with [enrollment],” Miller said. “but I also think that over the last five or six years the college has done a much better job of marketing and recruiting students.”
“[The economy] definitely had an effect on me getting my master’s,” said Shannon McCarthy, a doctoral student, originally from Los Angeles. “When I graduated in December 2008, the job market was horrible. I was offered great positions, but they were basically internship positions…Some were even unpaid.”
McCarthy, who is working on her doctorate in recreation and sports management, said graduate school is giving her more options.
“As much as I loved [having] my master’s, I felt I would be more marketable and be able to do more if I were actually able to continue on and get my doctorate in something I really want to focus on,” she said. “For me, it made sense to keep going.”
McCarthy went straight into her UA doctoral program after completing her master’s degree at the UA, making her one of the youngest in her program, she said.
“I’m the baby of the RESM program,” she said. “I know I’m the youngest by a few years, at least.”
It is not uncommon for most graduate students in the CoEHP to be non-traditional, Miller said, that is, students that have some career experience before coming back to school to pursue a graduate degree.
“In a college of education, typically the average age is going to be in the mid 40s, compared to someone in the liberal arts who’s gone straight through [their graduate program],” he said. “It’s almost 20 years older.”
Karyl Lounsbery, a UA doctoral candidate for counselor education, went back to school almost 20 years after graduating high school.
“I always wanted a Ph.D,” she said. “When I finally finished my bachelor’s I decided if I’m going to do this, I’m just going to sit down, and I’m going to do it in one chunk.”
Through the years, the value of a degree has changed and Lounsbery has changed to keep up, she said.
“You can’t really do a whole lot with a bachelor’s degree anymore. At all. You almost have to have a master’s for almost anything,” she said. “A bachelor’s degree really doesn’t mean a whole lot anymore. My bachelor’s is in psychology, and you can’t do anything with that with a bachelor’s degree.”
“There was only so far I could go without have a degree of any sort,” she said. “I felt like I had maxed out my potential in the job market, as far as things I could do. I had to make an adjustment to be more mentally active: do things I could do with my mind.”
Some graduate students think a degree from the CoEHP gives them more opportunities for jobs once they graduate.
“The people in our college are the people they’re looking at for increased job opportunities,” said MarTeze Hammonds, a UA doctoral student from Kentucky.
Employment of health educators is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations, and job prospects are expected to be favorable, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic.
Employment for education administrators is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations, but job opportunities should be excellent because of a high number of expected retirements, according to the BLS.
Hammonds, who is pursuing his doctorate in higher education administration, said there are several reasons students look to the UA CoEHP for their graduate degrees.
“When I was trying to find a doctoral program, I was trying to find one that had faculty and staff that were very supportive and respected the type of research that I wanted to do…and were knowledgeable and had experience in the type of field, in higher education, that I wanted to go into,” Hammonds said.