What Potential Grad Students Are Looking For

Career advancement and career change motivate many searches.

June 6, 2022
Graduates in blue and black robes and caps.
(University of California, Davis)

Those looking at graduate schools are motivated both by advancement in their careers and a desire to change careers, according to a survey by Niche of 6,348 people looking at graduate programs.

Those seeking a graduate program because they want a career change are most often looking for M.B.A., other business and law programs.

Other key findings:

  • The majority of searchers reported that COVID-19 has made their academic preparation and their ability to afford a graduate degree more challenging.
  • Program reputation and awareness are more important than the university’s reputation. Thirty-seven percent of searchers say that the reputation of a program is more important than the university as a whole, and only 4 percent say that the university’s reputation is more important than a specific program.
  • The only concern that the majority of searchers expressed was that of being able to afford their degree, with 84 percent saying that they were concerned.
  • In-person classes are still highly desirable, with 80 percent of searchers considering on-campus-only programs, 70 percent considering hybrid enrollment and 62 percent considering online-only programs. Of those considering an online program, half want it to be offered by an institution with a physical presence, while only 22 percent prefer it to come from a fully online institution.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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