Aeronautics, architecture graduate programs see large increases in graduate program enrollment

Graphic: Grad Program Enrollment

Kaitlyn Finchler Reporter

With the university releasing spring 2021 enrollment numbers, the colleges at Kent State review what this means for them within their graduate programs. The College of Aeronautics & Engineering and the College of Architecture & Environmental Design have two of the largest increases in graduate enrollment.

The aeronautics and engineering program enrollment increased the most with a total of 66 graduate students enrolling in graduate programs this spring, an increase of roughly 61 percent from spring 2020.

“We’re talking about technically four new programs, MS [masters of science] and Ph.D. in aerospace engineering being two that now people can enroll in,” said Christina Bloebaum, the dean of the College of Aeronautics & Engineering. “We’re just now starting to roll out some of the marketing for that. And those will grow, I think, quite dramatically over the next few years.”

Along with these new programs, the aeronautics and engineering program added three new concentrations to the Master of Engineering Technology program. Bloebaum said the expected enrollment numbers were very similar to the actual number released. 

“[The numbers] were pretty much on target,” Bloebaum said. “We were watching it right along on the increase in applicants, [which] was very proportional to the increase in students who were accepted.”

Bloebaum said she and her colleagues are hopeful international students will be able to gain access to student visas in the near future.

“The international students have been really hit hard because they can’t travel,” Bloebaum said. “We’re hoping that they will be able to come fall or at very least come spring. …  Had COVID not hit, we would definitely be seeing significantly more students coming to the program.”

Another college that saw a large increase in graduate enrollment was the College of Architecture & Environmental Design. The architecture and environmental design program had roughly a 40 percent increase, which was the second highest increase in graduate enrollment, with 108 students enrolling in spring 2021 compared to 77 for spring 2020. 

Dean of the College of Architecture & Environmental Design Mark Mistur accredits the program’s increase in graduate enrollment to the addition of the architecture and environmental design graduate programs. 

“The bulk of [the enrollment increase] is from the two year and the three year master of architecture programs,” Mistur said. “That’s attracting people from other universities, which is really delightful. It’s diversifying us and adding a lot of intellectual diversity to the programs.”

The architecture and environmental design program used to be where Kent’s bachelor’s students would just move on to the master’s program.

“It used to be that it was just our graduates who moved on from the four year bachelor’s to the master’s program,” Mistur said. “We’ve added landscape architecture, we’ve added the Master of Science and Architecture and Environmental Design [and] we’ve added a Master of Healthcare Design program.”

Mistur also said the pandemic is an added factor to consider for the increase. 

“It’s also a good time to go into graduate education, you know?” Mistur said. “When the world is a little bit shut down, when the economy is down, those are always a good time to increase your credentials and position yourself to have advantages over others when you come back.”

When it comes to reaching out to prospective students, Alyssa Robinson, director of strategic communications and external relations for the College of Aeronautics & Engineering, said there are many strategies in place for recruiting students into the graduate programs. 

The aeronautics and engineering program utilize Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other networking platforms to reach their target audience.

“The big thing that we are trying to focus on is meeting our population where they’re at,” Robinson said. “So we have a lot of targeted campaigns that are going out to people based on the algorithm that the Facebook company has put together.”

For the architecture and environmental design programs, Mistur said the recruitment strategies ensure there will be a welcoming environment for incoming graduate students. He also said the growth of the graduate program contributes by diversifying the program, sharing intellectual thoughts and stimulating faculty in their own research.

“In terms of recruiting students and faculty and retaining students and faculty, it makes it a much richer, more wonderful place that’s full of discourse,” Mistur said. “It brings in really interesting people all the time. To expand what it means to be educated and to be in a great educational environment.”

Kaitlyn Finchler covers administration and enrollment. Contact her at [email protected].