As outgoing students choose graduate schools, U.Va. stands out

Nearly 15 percent of last year’s graduating class pursued postgraduate degrees

After Final Exercises, some students opt to stay at the University to continue their education in graduate programs. Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

As the University’s Class of 2018 prepares to walk down the Lawn for Final Exercises and to proceed into their future, some will continue their education at graduate school. The University Career Center’s most recent data is for the class of 2017 and reveals that 14.6 percent of the class of 2017 pursued higher education as their first destination after graduation. 

The number for the class of 2017 is slightly lower than 17 percent of the class of 2016. Of the 17 percent of students who went on to attend graduate school, 18.6 percent — 105 graduates — remained at the University to continue their education. 

In 2017, the Curry School of Education had the highest percentage of graduating fourth-years who continued directly to graduate school at 52 percent. The McIntire School of Commerce had the lowest percentage of graduating fourth-years who continued on to graduate programs, with only four percent moving directly to higher education.

Meanwhile, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences saw in 2018 the most applications from former University undergraduates and the second-highest number of admitted students, and the third-highest number of matriculants since 2010, according to Shannon Barker, the director of Graduate Education for the School of Engineering and Applied Science. 

Emma Candelier, the assistant dean of graduate marketing for the Masters of Science in Commerce program, said between 30 and 35 percent of recent cohorts in the Commerce graduate school have been made up of previous University undergraduates.

“About ten percent of the class are what we call three-plus-one students, so students who come in with enough credit to graduate in three years but are using the MS in commerce as their fourth year,” Candelier said. 

Candelier said that the option to obtain a one-year master’s degree in Commerce programs for University students who graduate early is a large draw to attend the school, along with the various tracks of specialization the Commerce school offers among degree programs. 

“Some of the biggest differentiators … is that even though this is a general business, we offer tracks of specialization,” Candelier said. “So students can actually know that they’re getting a foundation of business classes, but we offer three distinct tracks … that way they can still get a very well-rounded, solid business and specialize.”

Dawna Clarke, the head of MBA Admissions at the Darden School of Business, said in an email to The Cavalier Daily that for the past three years, University graduates have comprised a much smaller proportion of Darden students in comparison to U.Va. graduates within Commerce programs. 

“UVA graduates who attend Darden has been 8-9% of the total class size for the past 3 years.   That equates to 26-31 individuals per class,” Clarke said.

Clarke also said she expects this percentage to increase in future years due to the school’s recent Future Year Scholars Program, a Darden initiative through which prospective students can apply and gain admission to Darden prior to working for two to four years in business-related fields and then return to the school after field work for graduate classes. 

Because of the international acclaim Darden receives, Clarke said, each incoming class at the school is comprised of students from upwards of 160 undergraduate programs. This makes admission competitive for prospective students from all backgrounds, even those within the University, although a student who attended the University for an undergraduate degree is often more seriously considered. 

“Darden is an internationally known business school and we get applications from all around the world,” Clarke said. “[But] my guess is we would err on the side of generosity with a U.Va. undergraduate, since they went to our home institution and it has such a great reputation.”

Clarke said that Darden works to make sure incoming students from backgrounds both inside and outside of the University are familiar with the myriad of opportunities the school and the city of Charlottesville have to offer. 

“Charlottesville has been rated so highly in terms of one of the best college towns. A student coming to Darden is also going to be familiar with the resources at the University of Virginia,” Clarke said. 

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