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### New Strategy Aims to Boost Enrollment in TCNJ Graduate Programs

By Mike Sherr

As a Former Editor-in-Chief

The College presently offers 35 graduate and certificate programs spanning various fields such as school counseling and public policy. Looking ahead, the College aims to enhance its graduate program presence in the region to boost revenue.

Despite continuous growth and program diversification over the years, there has been minimal increase in graduate student enrollment. Currently, the College accommodates 641 graduate and certificate students, which is less than one-tenth of the undergraduate student population.

Lynn Mayger, the new interim dean of graduate and continuing studies, acknowledged the setback caused by Covid-19 on the graduate programs. She mentioned that the past year marked a turning point in regaining stability.

Even before the pandemic, the enrollment numbers for graduate programs remained stagnant. Five academic years ago, there were 632 graduate students, and a decade ago, in fall 2014, the count stood at 666 students.


A review of the graduate and certificate student figures at the College over the past decade indicates relative stability following a previous decline. Data was sourced from the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (Graph by Mike Sherr).

Mayger highlighted the lack of investment in graduate programs historically, with most resources allocated to support undergraduate initiatives. However, recent efforts led by Suzanne McCotter have aimed to establish dedicated systems for promoting and enhancing graduate programs.

McCotter, who previously served as the dean of graduate and continuing studies before becoming interim provost, focused on implementing supportive policies and procedures for existing programs while exploring potential new degree offerings.

The College recently announced plans to establish a School of Continuing Education and Professional Studies under the leadership of Interim President Michael Bernstein. This initiative seeks to consolidate all graduate and continuing studies programs to streamline operations and cater more effectively to the increasing demand for graduate education.

A committee, spearheaded by Mayger, has been tasked with devising a business plan and marketing strategy for the new school. Their objectives include generating \(550,000 in revenue for FY2026 and \)4 million in FY2028.

Mayger emphasized the necessity of making strategic budgetary decisions to address financial challenges and optimize resource allocation for sustained growth.

Furthermore, the committee is exploring the potential of offering online graduate degrees and certificates to accommodate diverse learning needs, particularly for adult learners and students from regions beyond the northeast.

In addition to delivery methods, the College is also evaluating the range of degree programs available to align with market demands and educational trends.

Despite recent expansions, including the introduction of seven new degrees since the 2019-2020 academic year, the College is mindful of the time required for these programs to mature and attract substantial enrollment. For instance, the Master of Business Administration program, launched in 2020, currently enrolls only 42 students.

The School of Education, which hosts the majority of graduate and certificate students, has historically received significant investment, focusing on preparing future educators and administrators.

As the College contemplates introducing new programs, it faces strategic decisions regarding the reputation and viability of these offerings in the long term. Considerations include anticipating future job market demands and aligning educational offerings accordingly.

McCotter emphasized leveraging the College’s strengths to address market needs proactively and expand outreach to diverse audiences, emphasizing a forward-thinking approach over a reactive one.

Apart from degree programs, the College is exploring credentialing programs tailored to professionals seeking specific skill sets related to their careers, offering practical learning experiences without formal degrees or certificates.

With a shift towards post-bachelor’s programs, the College anticipates a transformation in its institutional landscape in the foreseeable future, focusing on reinforcing existing strengths rather than diversifying extensively.

“We know our areas of expertise,” Mayger affirmed. “Now is the time to consolidate our strengths and excel further, rather than diverting resources to new ventures that may take years to establish.”