When the U.S. News released its annual rankings of graduate schools, it also shared a lot of interesting data (which is often overshadowed by the rankings). However, the year’s data includes several insights into trends ranging from enrollment to tuition. The data also reflects industry trends. As to be expected, the legal industry is in a tough spot.
Since 2005, private law school tuition has increased by an average of 66 percent. At public law schools, the tuition has more than doubled. Meanwhile, enrollment has plummeted to its lowest level in more than four decades.
Surprisingly, business schools are worse. Tuition for a master’s in business administration has increased by 72 percent for private institutions since 2005. And it has jumped by 128 percent at public schools. Yet MBA enrollment remains flat. Why? Because MBAs have a better chance of getting a high paying job after graduation.
Engineering, however, is an entirely different beast. Tuition has increased only 47 percent for private schools and 73 percent at public institutions. Plus, the job market is much more stable. Enrollment has grown by 38 percent for graduate engineering programs (with medical school experiencing the second highest growth at 11 percent). Interestingly enough, engineering enrollment actually dropped from 2005 to 2007 and has been rising ever since.
The reasons for these trends seem to be simple. Students are simply going to where they are most likely to get a job, make good money and minimize student loans. There are a lot of engineering jobs, they pay well and engineering programs have a relatively low tuition rate.
For example, the top engineering school (according to U.S. News) is MIT and the tuition is $44,720. The tuition to attend top ranked Yale Law School is $56,200. A greater disparity exists at the top public institutions. Take the University of California-Berkeley. UC-Berkeley’s engineering school is ranked third and the tuition is $11,220 for in-state students and $26,322 for out-of-state. UC-Berkeley’s law school is ranked eighth and the tuition is $48,166 for in-state students and $52,117 for out-of-state.
Another factor to consider is students applying to graduate programs now either experienced the tough job market following the 2009 Great Recession or witnessed the result on the job market. They saw law students enter law schools with high hopes of good jobs and high salaries only to come out with heaps of student loans.
The question now is what are law schools going to do to start luring students back to their programs? The sooner they come up with an answer, the better.
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