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Graduate growth

Province leading the country in growth in graduate degrees awarded

Teaching and Learning

By Jennifer Batten

Newfoundland and Labrador is leading the country in growth in graduate degrees awarded by province.

According to the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) 44th Statistical Report, the total number of master’s and doctoral degrees granted in Newfoundland and Labrador from 2010 to 2015 increased by 40 per cent.

This growth surpassed that of all other provinces in Canada over the same period, and was significantly higher than the Canadian average of 21 per cent and the Maritime average of seven per cent.

The total number of master’s and doctoral degrees granted in Newfoundland and Labrador from 2010-15 increased by 40 per cent.
Photo: Submitted

In 2017, a record number of graduate degrees were conferred by Memorial University – 941 graduate degrees in total, including 835 master’s degrees and 106 doctoral degrees. The number of graduate degrees granted at Memorial increased by 79 per cent from 2008 to 2017.

“We can attribute this rapid increase in the number of graduate degrees awarded to two main factors – the intentional efforts our university has made to attract the world’s most talented and intellectually-ambitious students, and the deep commitment that is spread across all campuses, faculties, schools and service units to supporting graduate students to completion,” said Andrew Kim, director of graduate enrolment services.

The rapid increase in graduates follows an equally impressive growth in graduate enrolment over the past 10 years. According to the Association of Atlantic Universities, from 2008 to 2017 graduate enrolment increased by 54 per cent compared to the average increase of 9.9 per cent among the Maritime universities.

Memorial has been acknowledged both nationally and internationally for the deliberate efforts it has made to improve graduate student experience and persistence, including boosting supports that better prepare students for life after graduate school and training in and recognition of excellence in graduate supervision. Over the past several years, the proportion of graduate students leaving programs without finishing has notably decreased.

“Memorial continues to lead Canada in many aspects of graduate education,” said Dr. Aimée Surprenant, dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “The increase in our graduation counts has important implications for Newfoundland and Labrador. Graduate degree holders generally make more money, and are healthier and happier. They challenge us to consider new ways of knowing, which helps our society be more innovative, inclusive and tolerant. Graduate students are key to the prosperity of our province and nation.”

Doctoral graduate growth

Over the past 10 years, the number of doctoral degrees conferred by Memorial has increased by a noteworthy 130 per cent. The Conference Board of Canada’s 2011 assessment of PhD graduation rates by province placed Newfoundland and Labrador among the top four provinces in the nation in terms of PhD graduates per 100,000 population aged 25-39. Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia were the other three provinces in that group. Memorial’s doctoral students are supervised by faculty members across all campuses, faculties and schools.

International graduate enrolment and retention

International graduate enrolment at Memorial has increased dramatically in recent years.

The CAGS report notes that Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest percentage of full-time international master’s and doctoral enrolments in Canada. Graduate degrees conferred to international students has also increased dramatically. Since 2008, the number of international students awarded graduate degrees grew by almost threefold to 316 in 2017. The number of doctoral degrees awarded to international students increased over fourfold over the same period.

According to a study on graduate settlement by Dr. Michael Haan, Canada Research Chair in Migration and Ethnic Relations, a greater number of Memorial’s international students are also staying in province after graduation. Newfoundland and Labrador’s retention rate increased to 17 per cent, up from 11 per cent two years prior.

“In 2008, Memorial began a systematic approach to supporting international students’ post-graduation transitions to the workforce, through programs designed to help students be successful in the Canadian workplace, as well as a focus on entrepreneurship,” said Sonja Knutson, director of Memorial’s Internationalization Office. “We are thrilled by the data which clearly demonstrates our efforts have been successful.”

To learn more about the work of Memorial’s master’s and doctoral students and alumni and how they are making a difference, please visit the School of Graduate Studies website.

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