grad school Graduate Admissions

5 New & Innovative Grad School Programs

Summer is approaching and the tumultuous wave of 2021 graduate school admissions has finally unfolded. The year+ of COVID brought graduate school applicants out in droves. More students than ever before, in a wide variety of fields, decided fall 2020 was THE time to apply to graduate school, change their career pathway, seize the day when GREs were not required, and use extra time at home to perfect their personal statements.


As Inside Higher Ed noted last month, when the economy is down, graduate school applications are up. It’s not just the Fauci effect either. Graduate school applications were up this year for medical school and psychology fields, yes–but also for law school, business, economics and even history and philosophy. For example, Inside Higher Ed noted Washington University in St. Louis’ PhD in Philosophy program received 45% more applications this year (compared to last year) and Northwestern University’s PhD in Economics program received 17% more applications.

Some top universities with massive endowments panicked, a case in point when Princeton’s PhD in Sociology shut down admissions and decided they would not accept a single applicant for 2021 admissions. Or when UNC Chapel Hill’s History PhD program made the same decision. There are no new students in those departments to start this August, not one.

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The programs that DID accept applicants were even more flooded, and in subsequent years in admissions (meaning admissions this fall 2021 for an August 2022 start) applicant numbers will climb even higher.


As a 2021 grad school applicant, how do you turn it around? How do you gain acceptance into a top university?

Look for the innovative programs that are building up and not pausing or tearing down.


Check out these recently launched grad school programs and join one of their first cohorts of students: 

  1. Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences just launched a new PhD Program in Quantum Science and Engineering.
    1. It’s a unique cross between physics, chemistry, engineering and computer science that sounds innovative for sure.
    2. Since education is my forte, what I love most about this is that part of this initiative is this PhD program’s involvement in the Harvard University Center for Integrated Quantum Materials (CIQM) (a product of an NSF and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) partnership). They’re working to develop curricula for K-12 students to learn more about the field of quantum information science. 
  2. USC’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism launched a new online Master’s Program in Digital Media Management.
    1. USC is smart to launch this program now–as they note: the digital media field is set to have $414 billion in global revenue growth by 2025. Might be worth checking this one out –that’s an awful lot of growth in under 4 years.
  3. The University of Michigan’s School of Medicine launched an online Master of Science degree program in Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems.
    1. This is one to really take note of as there are part time and full time options and their application deadline (U.S. applicants only) is June 1st, meaning if you apply this month you could start in this program in 3 months and wrap it in 12 months total. Learn more about their Rackham funding options here. Talk about a swift and innovative career change!
  4. The University of California at Riverside just launched a new Master of Science program in Business Analytics.
    1. They’re unique in that it’s a STEM program offered jointly by their Graduate School of Management and Department of Statistics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences. Students can concentrate on one of three tracks –finance analytics, marketing analytics or operations analytics and it’s a nine-month program when done full time.
  5. The University of Wisconsin-Madison just launched the first ever accredited Master of Science degree program in Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation within their School of Pharmacy.
    1. It can be completed in an online or hybrid setup in 1-3 years and will begin this fall 2021. The program (with a focus on science, history, ethical and legal aspects) aims to explore new treatments for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, and addiction. If this isn’t a well-timed launch of a strong research-focused graduate degree program, I don’t know what is.


Explore the links above and register to attend an online information session (#3 UMichigan has one 5/20 here) with their graduate admissions offices. You’ll benefit from hearing from their faculty, admissions officers and current students as you assess your plans for graduate school, your career aims and your next steps. Seeking more ideas on new graduate programs in your field of interest? We can help!

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