New student enrollment at U.S. graduate schools fell in 2010 for the first time since the autumn of 2003, according to a new report.
The decrease came despite a more than eight percent increase in applications, said the report from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Board.
The survey -- conducted annually since 1986 -- showed the number of first-time grad students fell 1.1 percent from autumn 2009 to fall 2010, though applications increased 8.4 percent.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2018, 2.5 million more jobs will require advanced degrees, according to CGS President Debra Stewart.
"The decline in first-time enrollment ... is a concern given changing demographics and the need for more students from all groups to pursue graduate degrees so that America will have the talent needed to remain competitive," Stewart said in a statement.
The authors of the CGS/GRE report said last year's decline was driven entirely by a drop in part-time graduate enrollment, which declined 8.5 percent.
Approximately 1,950 U.S. colleges and universities offer graduate programs, according to the CGS/GRE survey.
The 655 of these institutions which responded to the survey received nearly 1.77 million applications for graduate programs beginning in fall 2010.
Of those applications, about 741,000, or 42 percent, were accepted, but only about 445,000 students enrolled for the first time in graduate programs for the fall term in 2010.
The number of new doctoral students grew 1.5 percent from fall 2009, while the number of master's and graduate certificate students dropped 1.6 percent.
Overall, roughly 42 percent of all first-time graduate students in fall 2010 were men and 58 percent were women, continuing a decade-long trend of more women entering grad school than men.
Business, engineering, and social and behavioral sciences accounted for the largest numbers of applications in 2010.