Marist Enrollment Increasing, but Certain Schools Are Losing Out

Marist College Undergraduate Enrollment has been steadily increasing since 2008, but not all schools are enjoying the growth. According to the college’s Fact Book report, updated annually by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning based on year-to-year registration numbers, overall enrollment for undergraduate programs reached an all-time high in 2017 as Marist ushered in a total of 5,699 students—83 more than the previous year.

The 2017 leap reflected a more long-term increase in registration numbers for all Marist schools combined since 2008, when total undergraduate enrollment was only 5074. But while Marist programs as a whole are incrementally expanding, the school’s most popular area of study—the communication department— has seen an opposite trend.

The department, which includes all communication-related concentrations including public relations, advertising, journalism, sports communication, radio and television, communication studies, and undecided communication, hit a peak of 871 students in 2012. But since that year, the department entered into a downward slope, with enrollment regularly decreasing since 2013. Last year, enrollment numbers for the communication department hit a nine-year low of 636.

The communication department falls under the School of Communication and the Arts, which encompasses digital media, fashion, gaming and emerging media, fine arts, media studies and production, and studio art. The school as a whole saw a slight increase in enrollment between 2016 and 2017, jumping from 1361 to 1368. But Communication and the Arts totals mirrored the trend seen within its communication programs. Following its peak of 1441 students in 2013, enrollment dropped dramatically in 2014, and the school has been slow to recover ever since. The school’s slight increase in recent years can be largely credited to the fashion merchandising program, which has grown dramatically within the last few years.

The School of Liberal Arts—another large program at Marist—also suffered a gradual decline in enrollment following its peak of 781 students in 2010. In 2014, liberal arts programs, including education, English, foreign languages, philosophy, and undeclared, hit a nine-year—low of 557, before slowly crawling its way back up to 631 last year.

Criminal justice and psychology programs within the The School of Social and Behavioral Science have similarly been losing out over the last decade.

Meanwhile, the School of Management—Marist’s second largest area of study—is thriving. The business-related fields hit a nine-year high of 1362 last year. Science, technology, and math programs are also benefiting from the recent national emphasis on STEM-related fields. The School of Computer Science and Math hosted  a high of 564 students in 2017, and the School of Science similarly reached 545 students.

The Marist trends appear to match systemic patterns on the national level, as STEM fields gain rapid momentum across the country and business-related studies remain the most popular majors, according to a recent government report.  The national trend in communication program enrollment is more ambiguous to calculate, in part because the field is very broad and often divided into more specific concentrations at other American colleges and universities. However, a 2014 Huffington Post article, citing the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Humanities Indicator assessment, suggested that, at a minimum, the field of communication studies flourishing nation-wide at that time. During the time that the Huffington Post article was published, Marist was enjoying rapid growth specifically in its communications studies program, gathering 19 students in 2015. That number has since dropped to 15 as of 2017.

“As an academic discipline, Communication Studies is posting strong growth in relation to undergraduate majors, undergraduate degrees awarded, student popularity, and number of institutions offering the degree,” the article stated.

Other studies have found a rise in general communication enrollment, but a decline in certain schools within the field of communication, notably journalism and broadcast, as of 2015. Within Marist’s communication department, the school of journalism dipped between 2016-2017, from 150 to 70 students.

The Marist Circle did not obtain enrollment numbers for the 2018 fall semester.

Alyssa HurlbutComment