Large amounts of competition from other Missouri universities as well as lack of advertising keeps Truman State University’s graduate program enrollment low, with 194 students enrolled across eight programs.
These figures are the latest given by the graduate office, and reveal disparities between graduate programs. While 100 students are enrolled in the Masters of Arts in Education program, three students comprise the entire Masters of Science in Biology program. Compared to other Missouri universities, Truman’s graduate student to student population ratio falls anywhere from 16 to 50 percent. So far, Truman has no plans to address this situation.
Maria Di Stefano, Dean of Graduate Studies, says several factors contribute to enrollment numbers, including recruitment techniques. Di Stefano says recruitment at the graduate level is quite different from recruitment for undergraduates, which can use radio advertisements and billboards to promote the campus lifestyle. In contrast, these methods are ineffective at the graduate level, she says, as graduate students tend to ignore these advertisements and seek insider recommendations instead.
“When you enter the graduate level, it’s very closely tied to what you intend to do as a career in your life,” Di Stefano says. “They want to know from the people in their own program.”
Di Stefano says events such as Graduate Education Month, graduate fairs and student research conferences aim to show what Truman has to offer. However, she says these tactics do not always prove effective for Truman. While fairs and conferences work for universities with a large number of graduate programs, Truman’s limited number does not always provide what students want, she adds.
“We have a very limited number of graduate programs … If there were more programs, it would be a more visible presence,” Di Stefano says. “We are an undergraduate institution, that’s where the resources are focused.”
Di Stefano says programs will be added when needed, as is the case of the addition of the Athletic Training graduate program, but ultimately, undergraduate education will remain Truman’s focus.
Truman alumnus Adam Manahan says Truman would appeal to more students if it expanded its graduate programs, because a lack of programs, representation and information helped him reach his decision to leave. Manahan now attends graduate school at Indiana Wesleyan University, but says he would have loved to stay in Kirksville.
“[Truman is] a good school with a good focus and a good scholarly environment,” Manahan says. “If they get more students to come, it gets the word out and makes every graduate essentially a representative.”
Jacob Owen, a graduate assistant at Lindenwood University and Truman alumnus, says he thinks it’s odd Truman doesn’t have more of an emphasis on graduate programs, but he understands expansion comes with both pros and cons. While expanding programs would bring more revenue to the school, Owen says it could ruin what makes Truman special.
“One of Truman’s greatest strengths is the student-teacher ratio and the learning experience you get from that,” Owen says. “I would never want them to sacrifice that.”
For more information on graduate programs, students are encouraged to talk to their department heads or contact the Graduate Studies office.