Number of grad students continues to rise

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Changes in education access and new business standards both account for an increase in the number of graduate students as Sam Houston State University.The population of graduate students at SHSU this semester is 1,566, 12 percent of the total student population. This is a 15 percent increase from last fall, which had 1,208 graduate level students, and a 57 percent increase from five years ago when there were 976 graduate students.Troy Courville, director of the University’s Institutional Research center, said graduate students comprise the biggest percentage of increases in enrollment this semester.”Most of our enrollment gains were made through the graduate program,” said Courville.Courville said graduate students are typically those seeking a master’s degree, but the poll also includes doctoral students as well.With the exception of a dip in graduate students in 1998, the number has increased each semester since 1997.Tammy Gray, an administrative assistant for College of Arts and Sciences Dean Brian Chapman, said the increase of graduate students in her college is due mostly to new accessibility to education and changes in business requirements for employment.”It’s because school has become more affordable,” said Gray. “And because most industries are requiring post bachelor level degrees, and students are almost forced to take graduate programs.”Gray also said many businesses might also assist employees financially if they seek to go back to school.”A lot of times businesses will help fund an employee’s education if they’re will to go back and get it,” she said.The three biggest sections of the College of Arts and Sciences to experience increases in graduate-level students are the English program, the history program, and the computer science program. Gray said one of the reasons why history enrollment has increased is most likely due to the online masters program, which allows students to take courses over the Internet.In the College of Education and Applied Sciences, the Education Leadership and Counseling Program has one of the largest populations of graduate students, with more than 600 in the department.Dr. Beverly J. Irby, chair of the department, said the reputation of the department’s professors and programs help interest graduate students in applying to SHSU.”We are nationally recognized by several national professional organizations,” said Irby. “And we have a consistently high pass rate in the ExCET testing.”Irby said the professors receive national recognition for their work and publications, which brings the attention of graduate students toward the university.”We have outstanding professors who conduct their own research and publish,” she said.Four professors in the program have written best selling books in their fields that are offered as class texts nationwide. Another professor has a statewide bestseller. The department also produces four national journals.Irby said her program has also received almost $2 million in external funding in order to increase minority graduate student enrollment.Irby also said graduate students in her department receive a lot of field-based experiences that are built into the course work that attracts the attention of superintendent in the region.”Superintendents say are our program produces the best counselors and administrators because they have been provided with not only theory, but real world practice as well,” said Irby.Graduate students from the SHSU Education and Leadership Program are usually employed in cities in the East Texas area, such as Houston, Conroe, College Station, Bryan and Huntsville.The SHSU graduate program is fully accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which serves as an institutional body for 12,000 public and private schools in 11 southern states. Established in 1895, the SACS is one of only six such institutions in the United States.To receive accreditation, a school must show that it is meeting at least the minimum requirements for education according to its institutional body. The goal is to show consumers of higher education that the school that a university has met the appropriate evaluations and requirements for a school in its institutional body.