Graduate school programs are growing in numbers and specialties, and growing numbers of students are advancing their education. Some have suggested that students are moving immediately into graduate school programs, because unemployment rates are high. Many graduate schools also are hosting international students and are offering programs for business executives, nurses and other professionals so they can advance their degrees, perhaps even advance their careers or enter new fields.
As early as the freshman year, however, undergraduates say they want to be well off and that they plan to continue their education beyond a bachelors degree. With a masters or doctorate degree in hand, graduates might expect to command bigger salaries once occupations open up. At least one business executive participating in a doctorate degree program noted that a desire to make a difference in the world prompted her return to school.
Health care and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers are among the occupations that are expected to experience growth in an increasingly global, environmentally-conscious society. Many colleges and universities have added, altered or expanded graduate degree programs to help students meet these needs. Arizona State University alone has added 25 new masters degree programs since 2005, according to a recent report in the New York Times.
At Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, students interested in traditional and online degrees at the graduate level can choose from programs such as pharmaceutical marketing, computer science, environmental protection safety management, health administration and more. One of the focuses in nursing has been on getting registered nurses to advance their education and move into advanced practice specialties and nurse education. Northeastern University in Boston has expanded a graduate degree program for nurse anesthetics. Florida’s Mountain State University Orlando this year added a graduate program for registered nurses who want to train to become nurse educators.
The focuses for MBA programs have been in sustainability, international business and leadership. Graduate students at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H., on Nov. 30, begin classes in a new MBA program. It’s a “green” MBA in Energy & Sustainability Studies. A growing number of business schools are also offering doctoral programs for senior-level business managers who want to move into teaching careers or integrate research skills into the workplace, an August 2009 Bloomberg Businessweek article noted.
Enrolling in a graduate program is one thing and completing it another. With the time it takes to fulfill graduate school requirements making a difference in whether or not students complete their programs, students might consider accelerated degree programs. In California, Azusa Pacific University’s School of Business and Management in June launched a 13-month, full-time Millennium Master’s in Business Administration program that combines classroom studies with international business field study trips to countries such as Brazil, China, Germany, South Africa and Australia. Still other institutions, such as Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University, offer flexible RN to MSN programs that allow registered nurses with associate degrees and hospital diplomas to work on a bachelors and masters degree at the same time. Creighton University in Nebraska and Regis University in Colorado are among the institutions offering accelerated, full-time masters degree programs in nurse education for non-nursing bachelors degree holders.
Professional development certificate programs provide another option. Ohio’s Bowling Green State University in September began offering $199 professional development certificate programs in supervision essentials, management essentials and trainer training. The certificate programs address issues such as conflict resolution, coaching, building high performance teams and powerful communications.
In addition to colleges, universities and technical schools, graduate students might find scholarships, grants, fellowships and work study programs available from government agencies, large corporations, non-profit foundations and professional associations. Tuition assistance often requires that colleges and universities are accredited by a nationally recognized agency. Students in graduate schools might also benefit from advanced degree programs that are accredited by a professional organization, such as the American Bar Association. The US Department of Education maintains a list of accredited institutions and programs on its website and is only one or many resources for graduate school information.