Mar 3, 2017
Texas's 60x30TX strategic plan and RAND researchers' analysis of labor market projections point to a continuation of strong growth in graduate education in the state. To examine issues related to graduate education in Texas, the College for All Texans Foundation asked RAND to assess Texas's need to expand graduate degree production. This document is the executive summary for RR-1899-CFAT, Managing the Expansion of Graduate Education in Texas, which should help the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), higher education systems, and individual higher education institutions in Texas assess the need to expand their master's, doctoral, and professional programs, and may be useful in framing issues that THECB should address in developing a strategic plan to align graduate education in the state with the goals of the 60x30TX strategic plan.
To be competitive, Texas needs to compare favorably with other states and countries. The number of research universities in Texas is increasing rapidly, but too few of these institutions are ranked at the highest levels internationally. Texas's institutions also do not attract the same share of federal research and development funding as other states, especially California. To further increase the competitiveness of its universities, Texas will likely need to make additional public investments in research capacity for institutions at several stages of development.
Generally, Texas has been increasing its production of graduate degrees in fields corresponding to the occupational groups that are expected to have the most job openings: business, healthcare, education, computers, and engineering. However, because growth in graduate engineering degrees has been slow compared with other states and with projected demand, THECB and institutions should consider expanding graduate programs in engineering. In addition, greater efforts should be made to recruit domestic students and provide adequate financial support to motivate those with a bachelor's degree to pursue graduate education. Finally, as Texas explores ways to increase graduate education production, new programs will likely be necessary in addition to increasing enrollments in existing programs.