Economy could spur B-school’s applicants

Elaine Helm

With the economy still largely unimproved from a year ago, Northwestern administrators say they are expecting a pool of graduate school applicants similar to last year’s record-setting figures.

Today is the deadline for the first round of Kellogg Graduate School of Management applications. Although Kellogg officials say it is too early to tell if applicant numbers will rise again, indications are good that they will, said Heidi Diedrich, the school’s associate director of media relations.

“It’s not uncommon,” she said. “As I’m sure you’ve seen reported, when the economy slows to see a rise in applications.”

Prospective Kellogg students also can apply by Jan. 10 or March 14, but will be notified about acceptance later. The deadlines for NU’s other graduate schools range from Dec. 31 through June 30, with the exception of the Feinberg School of Medicine. Its deadline was Nov. 1.

Medill School of Journalism Dean Loren Ghiglione said the economy likely was responsible for a dramatic increase in applications to the school’s graduate programs last year.

“I think we’re getting a lot of applicants who are changing careers,” he said.

Medill accepted about 75 editorial graduate students and 83 Integrated Marketing Communication students, Ghiglione said. In addition, the average Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score for admitted students surged up about 200 points.

Despite boasting more applicants who also posted higher test scores, Ghiglione said he and other Medill administrators decided not to admit more students for either the IMC or the editorial graduate programs.

“We could have expanded the class, but we didn’t want to,” he said. “Journalism is so hands-on that we didn’t think it would be good for the students.”

Like Medill and Kellogg, NU’s Law School saw an increase in applications last year with the economic recession and high unemployment rates.

But Law School Dean David Van Zandt said the increase was only about 10 percent — lower than the national average for law schools — because NU requires more work experience from its applicants.

The Law School’s admission deadlines this year are Dec. 31 and Feb. 17.

People choose to go back to school for degrees in law, journalism and business because the programs are relatively short and professionally oriented, unlike doctorate programs in the arts and sciences, which usually lead to university faculty positions, Van Zandt said.

“They’re looking for a professional degree that will advance their position in the job market,” he said. “(Law school) gives you a real skill set that is valued by the world. That is less true of a Ph.D. The great thing about a law degree is it’s got maximum flexibility. For all the jokes people make about them, lawyers are very flexible (and) very highly skilled.”