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Thayer app. numbers increase by 35 percent

Feb 16, 2012   |   by Isobel Markham   |   The Dartmouth

While application rates for incoming classes at Dartmouth Medical School and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences have been consistent with those of previous years, the Thayer School of Engineering has seen a notable increase in its application pool, which grew by approximately 35 percent for the class entering in Fall 2012.

At Thayer, PhD and master’s programs received a combined 391 applications, up from 290 in 2011, according to Director of Public Information Catharine Lamm. The same programs experienced a 3 percent decrease in applications from 2010 to 2011.

Thayer professor Alexander Hartov, director of both Thayer graduate programs, said he was unsure why the programs experienced a surge in popularity. The increase in applications could be due to the current global economic situation, in which more individuals are going back to school to receive advanced degrees, he said.

Although the graduate programs have not been heavily advertised, officials at Thayer have tried “to position ourselves to be seen as an attractive place to come and do graduate studies,” Hartov said.

Thayer has also seen a significant increase in applications for its separate Master of Engineering Management program, according to Lamm. Applications for the first admissions period — for which the deadline was January 15 — rose from 199 in 2010 to 254 in 2011 and to 341 this year. These numbers reflect increases of 28 and 34 percent, respectively.

The MEM program admits about 50 students to each entering class, according to professor Robert Graves, the program’s director.

“The more applications we get, it increases the intensity of our efforts to determine those applicants who would appear to be the kind of students who would succeed in the program,” Graves said.

Thayer’s MEM program is part of a consortium of similar programs at schools including Stanford University, Duke University, Cornell University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northwestern University.

Graves said the increasing interest in the program reflects “the growing general recognition that a combination of management and engineering is a fantastic career for the future.”

Rather than buying advertising for the program, Thayer relies on op-ed pieces in the national and international press for recognition, which serve the dual purpose of creating interest in the program and alerting potential employers to the benefits of hiring MEM graduates, Graves said.

MEM student Joe Zabinski Th ’13 said the program’s intention of pivoting people between business and engineering is effective and offers a “valuable” education. Half of the program’s courses are taught by Tuck School of Business faculty.

“People are recognizing that there’s a real demand for people at the intersection of engineering and business,” Zabinski said.

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