Back to school: Universities in Wichita see spike in graduate school applications

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WICHITA, Kan (KSNW) – Friends University and Wichita State University are seeing a big boost in graduate school enrollment. The growing demand is forcing both universities to expand programs in an effort to accommodate the recent spike.

“Graduate education in general is experiencing a boom across the country we are happy to ride that way and maximize it as much as possible,” said Aaron Coffey, the assistant dead for graduate enrollment management at Wichita State University.

Coffey said from last spring to this current spring semester, Wichita State University has seen a 30-40-percent increase in graduate school application numbers.

“I think there are multiple factors — the uncertainty over the economy was a driving force and factor into an increase in graduate education, historically we tend to see that in times of economic uncertainty,” said Coffey.

It’s a similar story at Friends University. It saw a 7-percent increase from fall 2019 to 2020 and the numbers just keep rising.

“We have students from sprint that were laid off and decided to come back to school just because it’s a good time to do so,” said Deb Stockman the Vice President of Enrollment at Friends University.

With the demand, Friends University is adding a masters in strategic leadership. “That’s really how we are approaching the trend by adding programs that would speak to what people want,” said Stockman.

Wichita State is adding more classes, but say staffing could become an issue. “We can’t hire a bunch of faculty if in two years this trend ends and then suddenly that happens,” said Coffey.

“We can’t hire a bunch of faculty if in two years this trend ends and then suddenly that happens,” said Coffey.

Both universities say the hope this trend will benefit Wichita as students graduate and enter into the local workforce.

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