The California Master Plan for Higher Education charges the University of California with the responsibility for preparing graduate academic students to help meet California's and the nation's workforce needs.1 Graduate academic students are in master and doctoral degree programs in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and engineering.
UC is also responsible for preparing professional degree students to enter a wide variety of careers that are critical to California, such as law, medicine, business, architecture, public policy and the arts. Included among UC's professional school offerings is the largest health sciences instructional program in the nation. The doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists and veterinarians the University trains deliver essential health care services to California.
The main themes identified in this chapter are somewhat different for graduate academic and professional degree students. For graduate academics they revolve around two factors: the size of the graduate academic student body and the availability of financial aid to support them. During the last 50 years, undergraduate enrollment growth far outpaced that for graduates, as the University accommodated California's burgeoning number of high school graduates. As a result, the proportion of graduate students at UC has decreased from about 30 percent of all enrollment in the mid-1960s to 22 percent in fall 2010. Offering financial support necessary to recruit the best students continues to be a challenge for UC's graduate academic programs. Given the vital role that graduate academic students play in contributing to the quality and effectiveness of UC's research and teaching enterprises, the trends documented here give cause for concern over the long run, even while Chapters 10 (Research) and 13 (Rankings) demonstrate that the University's research enterprise continues robustly at the present time.
For professional schools and their students, the story is told against the same backdrop of declining state support. Historically, UC's professional schools offered a top-quality education at a reasonable price. In 1994, in response to state budget cuts, the University implemented professional degree supplemental tuition charges to build the resources necessary for professional schools to recruit and retain excellent faculty, provide an outstanding curriculum and attract high-caliber students. These charges are levied in addition to the mandatory tuition set by the Board of Regents and required from all students. Since 1994, the number of professional schools that charge supplemental tuition has increased steadily, as has the level of tuition. One result is that debt levels have increased for those graduating with a UC professional degree. Additionally, as is evident in Chapter 8 (Diversity), accessibility is becoming an issue. In 2011-12, 49 professional schools will charge supplemental tuition ranging from $4,002 to $35,148 over and above the mandatory rate that applies to all students.
The chapter begins with indicators showing the proportional contribution that graduate academic and professional degree students make to UC's student body, by academic discipline and types of degrees awarded. It then takes up the issues of affordability and student success.
Diversity measures for graduate and professional students can be found in Chapter 8.
Indicators on graduate academic students directly affect the University's research competitiveness, and will be watched in the years to come. Data on professional degree students will also be monitored, though more with a view to determining the extent to which the University's professional degree programs remain competitive and accessible in light of their increased costs.
For more information
Information on graduate academic and professional degree student diversity can be found in Chapter 8 (Diversity). Additional details about health science students can be found in Chapter 11 (Health Sciences and Services). Some indicators in Chapters 9 (Teaching and Learning) 10 (Research) and 13 (Rankings) are also relevant, given the role that graduate academic students play in teaching and research.
Additional information may be found in the September 2010 Accountability Sub-Report on Graduate Academic and Professional Degree Students (pdf) and at the UCOP Office of Research and Graduate Studies.
1 More information about the Master Plan (pdf) can be found online.