Senior Undergraduates Who Did Not Apply to Graduate School Waited Because of a Job, but Most Are Likely to Apply in the Future
In the January 2021 issue of CRN, CERP published an infographic showing the percentage of senior undergraduates who aspired for a master’s or doctoral degree cross-tabulated by whether they actually applied to those programs in their last year of college. Results indicated that 66% of students who aspired for a master’s degree and 37% of students who aspired for a doctoral degree did not apply to any programs in their senior year.
CRN readers were interested in the reasons why those students did not apply to graduate school. In this follow-up analysis, we explore that question. Using the same sample of senior undergraduate students aspiring to attain a graduate degree , CERP analyzed responses to the following question: “Why did you not apply to any graduate programs during the 2018-2019 school year? Select all that apply.” 
Results indicate the top three reasons these students did not apply to graduate school in their final year of college were the following:
- “I wanted to get a job and/or I had a job offer.” Selected by 86% of respondents.
- “I wanted to take a break from school.” Selected by 53% of respondents.
- “I was worried about financial support.” Selected by 26% of respondents.
Following that question, CERP also assessed the likelihood that these students would apply to graduate school in the future. Results indicate that 72% of respondents were either “quite a bit likely” or “extremely likely” to apply to graduate school in the future. These results are promising: students’ goals for attending graduate school were still in the horizon, even though they were not applying to graduate school immediately.
Just recently, the National Science Foundation (NSF) created the CSGrad4US Fellowship program, aimed at providing opportunities for “bachelor’s degree holders who may be working in industry or other sectors to return to academia and pursue research-based doctoral degrees” . Fellowship programs like this one make going back to graduate school possible, especially for those who are worried about financial support.
 During the spring of 2019, CERP surveyed a sample of undergraduate students graduating with their bachelor’s degree (n = 686). CERP selected a sub-sample of students with aspirations to earn a graduate-level degree (n = 288).
 This question was displayed to only students who indicated they did not apply to any graduate programs during the 2018-2019 year. The sub-sample of students with aspirations to earn a graduate-level degree who also did not apply to any graduate programs is n = 129.
 See https://www.nsf.gov/cise/CSGrad4US/
This 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.