Useful Stats: Undergraduate enrollment below pre-pandemic levels in 43 states, grad enrollment up in 33 states

Total postsecondary enrollment is down 5% from fall 2019 to fall 2023 due to a 6% drop in undergraduate students. While undergraduates are down, graduate students have surpassed pre-pandemic enrollment numbers by 4%. Enrollments in undergraduate and graduate certificates are up significantly from pre-pandemic values (16% and 21%), while enrollment in associate degrees are down more than any other undergraduate credential (-14%). Continue reading for a national and state-level analysis of the recently released fall 2023 enrollment estimates from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (Clearinghouse).

Useful Stats: Trends in graduate students and postdocs by field of study

Graduate student enrollment and postdoctoral appointments have shifted in fields of study over the past decades, with many fields exploding in graduate enrollment and postdoctoral appointments. Computer and information sciences graduate students jumped from just 4% of all science enrollments in 1975 to nearly a quarter of the total by 2021, while engineering postdocs in biological, biomedical, and biosystems engineering jumped 5,671%– increasing from 3% in 1975 to 19% of all engineering postdocs by 2021. This edition of Useful Stats uses the full range of NSF GSS data to explore trends in graduate students (1975-2021) and postdoctoral appointees (1979-2021; postdocs) in science and engineering.

Useful Stats: 40+ year trends in postgraduate science, engineering, and health

The number of graduate students in science, engineering, and health has grown from approximately 328,000 to 760,000 from 1975 to 2021, a 132% increase, according to the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (GSS). When compared to a 60% increase (from 9.7 to 15.4 million) in total undergraduate enrollment across all fields of study over the same time period, the scale of growth can be better seen. However, while the number of graduate students in science has seen an upward trend over the 46-year period, the number of graduate students in engineering has stagnated since 2014.

Has the U.S. lost its luster in the eyes of international students?

The United States has been the top destination for those looking to study abroad for decades. Before the onset of the pandemic, over a million students flocked from abroad to attend U.S.-based universities. Now, having dropped by 15% at the onset of the pandemic, international student enrollment is beginning to recover. Despite this recovery, the U.S. is losing market share to countries like Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom resulting in negative economic consequences.

Higher ed freshman enrollment increases but total enrollment still down

Although freshman enrollment in higher education increased 4.3% in fall 2022 compared to the previous year, total enrollment declined by 0.6% and still remains below pre-pandemic levels. Total enrollment of both undergraduate and graduate levels is down about 1.11 million students (5.8%) compared to fall 2019. Freshman enrollment in community colleges, which had taken a greater hit during the pandemic, is up 6.1% over fall 2019. The new data on enrollment was released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Higher Education enrollment continues to decline; admissions officers reveal concerns over early numbers

Higher education enrollment dropped 1.1% between fall 2021 and 2022, a slight reprieve from historic COVID-induced drop-offs, as revealed by new preliminary data from the National Student Clearinghouse. Since fall 2020, enrollment has decreased by a combined 3.2% for graduate and undergraduate enrollment, representing a drop of approximately 1.5 million students since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spring college enrollment continues slide

Spring college enrollment figures released last week by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (Clearinghouse) showed a continued decline with postsecondary enrollment falling to 16.2 million, a 4.1 percent decline from the previous spring. Combined with the 3.5 percent drop in enrollment last spring, the Clearinghouse reported that the undergraduate student body is now 9.4 percent, or nearly 1.4 million students, smaller than before the pandemic.

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