Students are ‘fleeing’ law schools and journalism, but rushing into engineering

by Grace

Enrollment slumps in law schools and college journalism programs, but booms in engineering.

US students are fleeing law schools and pouring into engineering

… US law school enrollment is 93% of what it was in 2005, and the decline has accelerated since 2012:


Engineering is the one graduate discipline that’s really exploded—enrollment has grown by 38% since 2005. It has substantially outpaced medical school, the second fastest growing graduate discipline, which has grow by 11% over the same period.

The shift reflects that, in the US, engineering degrees yield the highest salary bumps and the lowest unemployment rates:


Journalism schools are seeing a decline.

Columbia Will Shrink Journalism School as Media Woes Mount
Class Size Rose in Recession, Now Receding Again

Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism will reduce its class size and cut about six positions from its staff as the news industry retrenches.

The school will gradually reduce enrollment over several years and has already stopped filling some vacant faculty positions, Steve Coll, dean of the school since 2013, said in an e-mail to students, faculty and staff today.

Interest in computer science is booming.

Columbia is seeing increased demand for training in digital media, Ms. Fishman said, adding that applications for the school’s dual degree in journalism and computer science were up 47% this year.

What’s a student to do?

Boom and bust cycles make for challenging career choices, but it’s not usually wise to pick a college major based on today’s hot jobs”.

Related:  “Dropping oil prices create concern for petroleum engineering students”


Max Nisen, “US students are fleeing law schools and pouring into engineering”, Quartz, March 10, 2015.

“Columbia Will Shrink Journalism School as Media Woes Mount”, AdAge, March 11, 2015.

10 Comments to “Students are ‘fleeing’ law schools and journalism, but rushing into engineering”

  1. I wonder about the demographics of the engineering grad students. A lot of engineers get their graduate degrees under sponsorship of their employers, through part-time programs or fellowships, and I believe that’s even more the case for domestic engineers. My guess is that the increase in engineering grad students is mostly practicing engineers getting their MS.

    Graduate degrees in engineering are rarely a requirement for a job, especially since most engineering grad students already have at least one engineering degree. That’s a big difference compared to Law degrees, which I believe are generally necessary, but not sufficient, for one to practice law.


  2. This article suggests that much of the increase for engineering may be due to international students.

    “International students are typically drawn to certain concentrations. “They come here to study STEM,” says Allum, referring to the science, technology, engineering and math fields​.

    Math and computer sciences had the largest one-year change in graduate applications between fall 2012 and fall 2013 – an 11.2 percent increase. The increase in computer sciences is being driven largely by international students, Allum says. ”


  3. Computer science has seen massive increases over the last 5 years. The increase definitely is mainly American students. We’re even seeing more women. Some schools, especially state schools, are having to cap enrollments


  4. And everyone, including my dept, is trying to hire CS faculty. Not fun. There is stiff competition for candidates. We can’t even find adjuncts.


  5. CSProfMom — Do you think this is a sign of a boom that will be surely followed by a bust, or do you foresee a smoother trajectory?


  6. There will almost certainly be a bust, as CS has gone through two such cycles in the past. The problem is largely driven by media frenzy about how great jobs are in computer science (when the job market is moderately good) followed by how awful it is (when the job market reaches more normal balance). There is also the problem that the rapid ramp-up in CS teaching is usually paired with a rapid drop in the average quality of the graduates (it is hard to really teach the weaker students in over-size classes—the bottom students are weaker and the resources for concentrated attention on them are missing).

    Of course, it would help if the industry hiring the computer graduates was less ageist, sexist, and racist, so that they were using the full labor pool, and not just the young, white and Asian, male candidates.


  7. The media’s fault? Interesting you put it that way. It’s a bit amazing that although we have access to more information than ever before, we still fall under the spell of media spin.


  8. Yes, I see a bust coming. Engineering in general is very cyclical. And I think industry is hugely to blame because they are unwilling to use the resources they have by offering education and a way for people to keep their skills up. Everytime there is a downturn, tech companies shed all their older supposed dinosaurs. I have seen several older relatives booted out of the tech world that way, most notably in the downturn of early 90’s, and then again in the dot com bubble. Of course, 3 years later, the companies are all scrambling for people to work for them again. It is a really wasteful way to run things.


  9. OTOH, I do not see another boom coming for journalism or law. Their problems are structural


  10. Oh yes, career opportunities in journalism and law are changing in a very fundamental way.


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