Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Offer acceptance rates for new graduate school classes up or down?

A weird question: has anyone said anything about the incoming class of graduate students for fall 2015 and their relative acceptance rates for your institution?

I have heard some rumblings about relatively poor offer acceptance rates for incoming graduate students in a major chemistry program; curious if that's just an anomaly, or a sign of an improving economy for B.S. or M.S. new graduates.

Thoughts? 

19 comments:

  1. I am on the admissions committee at a large, mid-ranked research program on the east coast. I have heard from a few of our peer institutions that they each had a higher acceptance rate and larger incoming classes. We actually had our biggest year in a while with a doubling of our acceptance rate, although this may be attributed to an improving program as well. Overall we had a very similar number of applications (which I would guess would be a better indicator of the economy). One interesting trend I have observed over the past five years is actually the decrease in international applications. Whether this is a hint at more competitive international graduate programs or a tougher visa process isn't clear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably neither - mostly I'll bet it's due to the rupee trading at 63 or so to the dollar, damping down the numbers in the India cohort. Maybe in the case of mainland China the programs are perceived as being more competitive than they were. Also, lousy employment (both in statistics and anecdotal) in the US likely plays a role.

      Delete
  2. Anon, is this true across all the various sub-disciplines in your program? In other words, are the faculty in the different divisions (inorganic, organic, analytical, etc.) equally satisfied with the incoming cohort?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny you should mention this Rnm. The short answer is no. Physical/Analytical and Theoretical numbers have plummeted to the point where almost anyone with a pulse is getting accepted. In fact, some incoming students have started declaring that field as their "desired" one only to switch upon their arrival. Organic and Chemical Biology, on the other hand, is incredibly strong and growing. This is all in spite of the fact that our department is ~65%% Phys/Analytical/Theoretical compared to 20% Organic.

      Delete
    2. I would estimate that our attrition rate is about that of the national average - approximately 30% leave before their Ph.D.

      Delete
  3. Our entering class (37) is significantly larger than the last year's (24). To be fair, last year was a very small year for us (the year before that was 34 entering)...all in all, a bigger than average yield. This is all at a competitive East Coast school.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What do you mean by poor offer acceptance rates? Lower stipend, lesser coverage, etc? From what I can tell about my incoming class in the chem dept (at a school in the pacific NW), most of the students seem to be geared towards analytical and inorganic, but that's probably more due to the demographic of the school being more focused on these areas. only a few organic people have been accepted into the program, but I do agree with Anon about the general greater growth of incoming students in the organic/chem bio division.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I suspect that applicants are applying to a larger number of programs than before. If a program isn't compensating for that (i.e., admitting a larger number of applicants) then I can see how the program sizes might shrink in some places.

    It also might be that with a poor job market, grad students are being even more selective in where they apply: Ivy League or bust, as you will. Which means that a lot of mid-tier or good-but-not-elite programs are feeling an absence.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Purdue University is bringing in its largest class I've seen since my arrival in '12. I believe the current class is 97 students of which roughly 50% are for organic. This is a pretty large increase from last year with incoming students in the low sixties. In my mind its going to be very difficult to find homes for all of these students and professors are probably going to have to take more than they planned for. Rumor has it that a much higher percentage of students accepted a Purdue offer than previous years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is this number typical though (i.e. 90 students per year)? I attend a school with a chemistry department that has the same number of faculty as Purdue does, and we only are bringing in 26 this year.

      Faculty at Purdue must be extremely well funded, or a lot of students teach throughout their graduate careers...

      Delete
  7. Our institution has had a lot of issues where labs are not able to absorb the number of organic students that enter the program for the past few years. Funding has gone down, and we have lost several faculty due to moves, but the class time stays the same (so they deliberately flunk people out in classes, quals, etc.). Maybe they are finally recalibrating after years of having class sizes that are not sustainable. Also our stipends have frozen, whereas the cost of living in the city we live in has shot up which makes our institution even more unattractive.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Stanford - we sent out ~100 invitations and have an incoming class of ~50. This is significantly larger than last year's (~35), perhaps because of Bertozzi or Moerner's Nobel.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I get the impression that graduate school applicants are applying to more schools (IMHO, ridiculous numbers in some instances), which could yield low offer acceptance rates for some institutions. Also, from the above comments it seems clear that at least some programs have or aspire to a certain elasticity in accommodating greater numbers of students (whether they actually can manage it or not).

    I doubt most sincerely it's because 'the economy is improving.'

    ReplyDelete
  10. Cornell - we have about 40, which is higher than average.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @Forum:

    Any idea about the attrition rate at your respective grad program?
    I graduated with a PhD several years ago from an R1-Level public university.
    For my cohort (entered in 2003), it was almost 50% across all chemistry disciplines.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In 2008, the nationwide 10-year completion rate for a Ph.D. in chemistry was 62%.

      http://chemjobber.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-many-1st-year-grad-students-will.html

      Delete
    2. My program takes on ~20 new PhDs each year.
      Within the first year, typically 1 or 2 decide to leave of their own accord (either can't find a research group, or PhD isn't for them).
      In my cohort I know of 2 people being kicked out of the program during their second year. Either they failed their quals or there was some serious problem with them in the lab. Another 2 or 3 will leave not too long after their quals. After that it's harder to keep track. Most of the attrition seems to happen early on.

      Delete
  12. Enormously high this year in organic at UIUC. Enough to worry the faculty! Didn't realize this wasn't a general trend - I wonder why?

    ReplyDelete