This article is published in the January 2021 issue.

Do Senior Undergraduates Who Aspire for Graduate School Make Steps Toward This Goal in Their Last Year of College?

Table displaying information on graduate school applications by students’ highest degree aspirations as either master’s or doctoral

During the spring of 2019, CERP surveyed a sample of undergraduate students graduating with their Bachelor’s degree (n = 686). Through the Data Buddies Survey, CERP asked graduating students to report (a) the highest degree they intended to attain and (b) whether or not they applied for graduate school during their senior year. For this analysis, CERP developed the following research question: Do students who intend to go to graduate school make steps toward reaching that goal in their last year of college?

To answer this question, CERP selected a sub-sample of students with aspirations to earn a graduate-level degree (n = 288). Among students intending to ultimately finish their education with a master’s degree (n = 140), 34% applied to one or more master’s programs while 66% of students did not submit any graduate school applications. Among students with aspirations for a doctoral degree (n = 99), 12% applied to one or more master’s programs, 38% applied to one or more doctoral programs, 12% applied to both master’s and doctoral programs, while 37% did not apply to any graduate degree programs. Seventeen percent (n = 49) of the sample did not report any information regarding graduate school applications.

The following survey questions were used in this analysis: “What is the highest degree you plan to attain?” and “During the 2018-2019 school year, did you apply to graduate school?” Data were tabulated by selecting only undergraduates who were graduating during the spring of 2019 and indicated they intended to earn either a master’s degree or a doctoral degree.

horizontal CERP logoThis analysis is brought to you by the CRA’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP). CERP provides social science research and comparative evaluation for the computing community. Subscribe to the CERP newsletter here. Volunteer for Data Buddies by signing-up here.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers CNS-1246649, DUE-1431112, and/or DUE-1821136. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.