After record year, Austin Peay’s graduate enrollment continues to grow – even during a pandemic
(Posted June 24, 2020)
Last year APSU broke the 1,000 graduate student barrier and current enrollment looks even more promising. APSU is experiencing higher graduate student enrollment compared to last year at this time.
As of June 23, graduate student enrollment for the fall is up about 7% across the university, and some programs are showing larger upticks. APSU’s computer science and quantitative methods graduate program, for example, is up about 10%.
“During this COVID-19 crisis, some people are making good use of their time working remotely to earn their graduate degree,” said Dr. Chad Brooks, dean of the College of Graduate Studies. “Delivering classes online is nothing new for APSU. APSU has been providing an excellent online education for more than a decade.”
Graduate enrollment also is up about 15% in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, 13% in the College of Business, 5% in the College of Education and 7% in the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
“We are optimistic that these numbers show interest is strong for our graduate programs at Austin Peay,” Brooks said. “And we hope they’ll stay strong.”
Fall enrollment numbers tend to fluctuate through the summer and will not become official until November. Graduate enrollment for the summer sessions already underway is also up 7% for the university.
‘The program is COVID-resistant’
One area at Austin Peay that has shown growth in recent years – and during the pandemic – has been the university’s computer science and quantitative methods master’s program (CSQM), which offers five concentrations in areas such as data management, predictive analytics, cybersecurity, mathematical finance and math instruction.
One of the reasons the program continues to draw students – even during a pandemic – is careers in these fields are adaptable and resistant to crisis, said Dr. Samuel Jator, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, who runs the CSQM program in collaboration with the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology (CSIT).
“The program is resistant to COVID-19 whether it’s in internships or it’s in jobs, the program is COVID-resistant,” Jator said.
Dr. Leong Lee, CSIT chair, agreed: “These are skills people need during a pandemic. All five of our concentrations are in demand during the pandemic. Our students can work from home. They can stay online.”
‘Applications continue to come in’
The graduate enrollment numbers are good across the university, and Lee thinks they’ll get even better.
“Our graduate program is having an increase, and it will continue to increase because applications continue to come in,” he said.
Dr. Ramanjit Sahi, coordinator for the mathematical finance concentration in CSQM, agreed.
“I have seen an increase in domestic students, which I was hoping for,” she said. “I’m also seeing increases in the mathematical finance concentration, especially from the military and business students who have an accounting or finance degree.
“And now we have students in predictive analytics and mathematical finance who are going out in big-name places, increasing the presence of our university and our department,” she added. “We are making a presence in the community and outside Tennessee. We are becoming a presence.”
The APSU College of Graduate Studies has received nearly 400 more applications (for summer and fall terms) this year than at this time last year, Brooks said.
Tailoring programs to student needs
“Austin Peay’s recent graduates are thriving, landing jobs at places such as FedEx, IBM, Mattel and Goldman Sachs,” said Dr. Matthew Jones, graduate coordinator for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. APSU also is placing students in prominent internships in companies like Nissan, Dell, Intel and the Tennessee Department of Treasury.
“Job opportunities are really there, and the salaries are good,” Jones said. “Our students can compete. They can complete their degrees online while they’re waiting this thing out, and they can still go to work.”
The current 10-year outlook for job growth in sectors like computer and information systems manager is really promising with an anticipated increase of 11% based on data provided by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Also, these sectors pay very well with master’s level graduates able to earn more than $100,000 (2019 median pay was $122,840 for computer and information research scientists).
Four of the five CSQM concentrations are offered online, and the fifth (mathematical finance) will go online next spring, but students also have the flexibility to choose on-campus or hybrid classes.
“Because our program is so adaptable, looking at the needs of our students, we can tailor it to their needs,” Sahi said. “We give them leadership qualities, and we also give them the opportunity to go in a different direction. They can do what they need to become more marketable.”
Jones shared a saying popular among data professionals: “‘Statisticians and data scientists can play in everyone’s backyard.’ You can go to work in finance on Wall Street for a while, and if you get bored of that, you can go into biotech or just about anything.”
Lee added, “The world is unpredictable, but we can predict that computer science and math will be here for the next 30 or 40 years.”
To learn more
To learn more about pursuing a graduate degree or certificate at Austin Peay, go to https://www.apsu.edu/grad-studies/.
To learn about what programs are offered 100% online at APSU, visit https://www.apsu.edu/programs/online.php.
To learn more about master’s degrees in computer science and quantitative methods, visit https://www.apsu.edu/csci/masters_degrees/.
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