The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) has selected Southern Illinois University Edwardsville among five universities across the nation as a research partner to participate in collecting information about how students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are prepared through master’s programs.
SIUE will join Loyola University in Chicago, Purdue University, Texas A&M University and Wright State University in collecting vital data about students seeking master’s degrees in STEM disciplines. The awardees will collect data on completion and attrition in STEM master’s degree programs; administer surveys to students, graduates and those who do not complete degrees, and conduct student focus groups. Additionally, awardees will survey graduate program directors.
Data collected will allow stakeholders to better understand reasons for enrollment, factors that contribute to student success and promising practices to improve completion. Insight gained from these activities can help ensure that U.S. graduate schools are preparing the necessary talent at the master’s level in STEM fields to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Research Partners in the CGS project on Completion and Attrition in STEM Master’s Programs will receive $30,000 to participate. CGS, an organization of more than 500 institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada, engages in graduate education, research and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. Among U.S. institutions, CGS members award 93 percent of doctoral degrees and 76 percent of master’s degrees. The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which is accomplished through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research and the development and dissemination of best practices.
“A master’s degree in a STEM field often offers a clear pathway to professional employment and career success,” said Debra Stewart, CGS president. “In this economy, more than ever, we need to better understand the factors affecting completion and attrition at the master’s level.
“This will be the first study of its kind in the United States and we are delighted to work with these innovative graduate schools on this unique project. The results of this study will be information essential to graduate deans as they foster student achievement in graduate education.”
Additional institutions will be invited to join in the research effort as unfunded Project Partners. The study’s findings will be released in a monograph in 2013. A decision will be made on whether an in-depth follow-up project on master’s completion and attrition is necessary. It is envisioned that a follow-up project would engage a much larger number of CGS member institutions to provide completion and attrition data, conduct surveys of entering students, graduates, and non-completers, and implement interventions that are designed to improve outcomes in master’s programs.