Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, UNC Greensboro’s Graduate School is once again expecting a growth in enrollment.
For the fourth straight year, graduate enrollment is up, with the Graduate School currently reporting a nearly 6% increase in registered students and a roughly 7% increase in total credit hours.
It’s a significant jump, especially given the circumstances. But according to Vice Provost and Dean Kelly Burke, now may be a great time to consider graduate education.
“It’s a challenging job market for many, particularly for recent college graduates. My advice is this: Don’t waste the time. Don’t make it just a gap year,” she said. “Our graduate programs offer an excellent opportunity for individuals to continue to pursue their professional goals, despite the very real challenges that our country is facing.”
Graduate education is primarily about the creation of new knowledge, but it is also about gaining new skill sets and advanced learning, says Burke. For some recent graduates, it’s an opportunity to continue in their undergraduate disciplines. For others, it marks a career shift – an entry point into a new field.
Enrollment growth is due in large part to the launch of new graduate programs in recent years. While the Graduate School has master’s and doctoral degree programs in traditional fields, it has also introduced more applied programs, such as the MS in Informatics and Analytics, additional concentrations within the MBA program, the first fully-online PhD program in the state (Business Administration), and an online MS in Sustainability and Environment that launches this fall.
The Graduate School has also seen an increase in visiting students. Prospective students can “test the waters” by enrolling in courses as non-degree seeking students. This means that individuals can take courses at UNCG without being admitted to a specific degree program. If a student ends up later being accepted into a degree-seeking program, then up to nine credit hours can be applied toward the degree.
UNCG also offers a variety of certificate programs. These programs typically consist of four to six classes and offer students’ credentials that open up new career opportunities. The certificates in cybersecurity and health and wellness coaching have been especially popular.
Are any programs still accepting students? Yes – some programs have extended application deadlines, and some have altered admissions requirements due to the pandemic, such as GRE/GMAT tests. Prospective students should reach out to individual programs of interest to learn more. Additionally, visiting student applications will be accepted through the beginning of the semester.
Many graduate courses will be online or hybrid this fall. Typical cohort-building activities and events will go virtual. Faculty mentorship and research will certainly look different. But Burke is confident that the Graduate School can continue to provide an excellent education and research experience.
“We have a strong tradition of online education and online cohort-building among our graduate students,” she said. “We have the first and only online PhD in the UNC System, and we offer many online master’s programs. We’ve already started doing virtual town halls with our students. Orientations are online, and we’ll host a number of online workshops throughout the fall. I’m proud of the way our students and faculty were able to pivot in the spring, and I know that our programs will continue to engage students, serve communities, and create new knowledge, despite the circumstances, as we navigate the many challenges thrown our way by the pandemic.”
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications