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Graduate Programs Receive More Applications

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: The March 10 article “Graduate Programs Receive More Applications” incorrectly reported the expected number for matriculation of the Civil and Environmental Engineering department. It is usually 60, not 120.

By Kirtana Raja

MIT’s graduate programs have seen a significant overall increase of the number of applicants for fall 2006. Applications totaled around 14,850, about 15 percent higher than the corresponding total last year, said Elizabeth S. Johnson, associate director of admissions. Johnson said it was unclear what might have caused the increase. In the past two years, the numbers had taken a dip of approximately the same magnitude, so numbers this year indicate a possible recovery.

The totals are not finalized for this year, Johnson said, because many of the departments are still accepting materials for incomplete applications.

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science did not see much change this year. For both years, the applicant pool was split 60-40 between foreign and domestic citizens.

Twenty percent of admits were women, and 4 percent were underrepresented minorities in both years.

This year, of the 60 applicants from MIT, 20 were accepted into the graduate program, far better odds than the overall average.

Terry P. Orlando, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and a graduate admissions officer, said that based on previous years, the yield is expected to be about 50 to 60 percent.

Also, he said, since last year’s yield was about 65 percent, much higher than the anticipated 50, the department admitted fewer students this year in order to allow student-faculty ratios to balance out.

The physics department received seven percent more applications this year. Academic Administrator Brian E. Canavan said that the Department of Physics has more fellowship and research money this year, so it will likely offer more admissions. Last year, 72 students were admitted, with a final yield rate of 35 percent.

“It is fair to say that we will be making a few more [research assistantship] offers this year, but this is not directly correlated to actually having more research funds this year,” Canavan said. Instead, excess unused funds from last year are being offered to this year’s applicant pool, Canavan said.

Research assistantships are just one of many sources of funding for graduate students; some graduate students have no funding, others have teaching assistantships or fellowships from MIT or other sources.

Course 18 accepts more women

The Department of Mathematics also had slightly more applicants this year than last, and so far a total of 42 have been accepted into pure mathematics, and about 16 into applied mathematics, with six from MIT. Last year, the pure-applied breakdown was 40 and 12.

Pavel I. Etingof, professor of mathematics and admissions officer, said that the mathematics department always makes an effort to get the most talented women to come to MIT, and tries to increase the number of women. This year, 30 percent of the admits were women, an increase over last year’s 20 percent, he said.

60 percent of the admit pool was international students, consistent with last year.

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has increased its applicant pool this year by about nine percent, with a total of around 380 students so far, though that number may increase as more applications are completed.

About 31 percent of the applicants were women, higher than last year, said Professor Joseph M. Sussman PhD ’68, a professor in the department and graduate admissions officer. Sussman said that traditionally about 120 matriculate.

Denise Heintze, academic administrator for the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, said that the department is hoping for about 14–15 students to enroll this year; last year, there were 12.

Janice D. Chang, academic administrator for the Department of Biology, said that preliminary information for biology admissions was not yet available, since decisions on all applicants had not yet been made. This is the first year that the biology department has considered MIT undergraduate biology majors for graduate admission.

So far, 827 offers of admission have been made, but there are still many more to come before the end of March, Johnson said. The overall yield was 57 percent in 2004, and 60.5 percent in 2005.