The Virginia Tech Graduate School has its largest class, enrolling a total of 6,947 students from all campuses. This milestone continues a growth trend that has been steadily climbing since 2005.

According to Karen P. DePauw, vice president and dean of graduate education, there are 4,114 master’s students, and 2,833 doctoral students enrolled.

Specifically, this growth highlights the consistent and steady increase in doctoral students, which now make up more than 40 percent of the Graduate School community. Overall, graduate students constitute 22.5 percent of the total Virginia Tech student population.

“Our growth is intentional,” said DePauw. “The Graduate School set a goal of recruiting 900 new students by 2010 and I am pleased to announce that we exceeded this goal by 2009,” she said.

Twenty-eight percent of graduate students are studying in the College of Engineering, which is historically the largest graduate program. Following engineering is the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences with 22 percent of the overall graduate student population.

Companioned with the student population growth, the Graduate School is also experiencing growth in the number of students taking coursework through the Transformative Graduate Education initiative. Graduate students can choose from an offering of 14 courses, which cover issues such as pedagogy, citizen-scholarship, global perspectives, and diversity. Each fall semester, DePauw teaches GRAD 5104: Preparing the Future Professoriate. Currently, 50 students are enrolled in this course.

“[Preparing the Future Professoriate] has challenged me to think about issues that I will face in my career, specifically ethics, academic freedom, diversity and inclusion, and sustaining a work-life balance,” says Cory Epler of Columbus, Kan., a doctoral student pursuing a degree in agricultural and extension education in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Diversity of the graduate student population continues to be a priority, according to Manuel Perez-Quinones, associate dean of the Graduate School, and associate professor of computer science. “We are purposefully addressing the issues of diversity, and taking a broad and inclusive approach to its definition,” he said.

Currently, 58 percent of graduate students are male, and 41 percent are female. More than 57 percent of graduate students identify as Caucasian. International students experienced consistent growth representing 25 percent of the population. The largest single minority group is black students at more than 5 percent.

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