The nation’s stalled job market may be influencing students’ decisions to attend graduate school, according to experts at Binghamton University.

Developing trends with applications to graduate school seem to reflect a change in attitudes about its purpose.

Nancy Stamp, vice provost and dean of the graduate school at Binghamton University, said the number of applications have increased in the professional areas like education, social work and engineering. Applicants in these fields typically intend to go directly into the respective industries upon graduation, she said.

According to a study released in 2010 by the Council of Graduate Schools, applications for admission to American graduate schools increased by 8.3 percent between fall 2008 and fall 2009. This is a marked rise from the previous five years in which the average annual increase had been less than 1 percent.

Scott Grant, dean of the School of Education at BU, said enrollment in the SOE has gone up every year for the past three years.

“It does seem to us that there is increased interest in teacher preparation programs, programs that lead to teacher certification,” Grant said.

Grant also said he sees this trend continuing and even increasing further.

“We’re thinking that our numbers may be quite robust this year,” he said.

Jean Dorak, assistant dean of the School of Education, explained that a possible reason for the trend was the tough job market.

“Teachers are looking to add additional certification areas to their résumés in order to be more marketable in a very difficult job market,” Dorak said.

Dorak noted that the increase in the number of full-time students enrolled in her school’s programs “is an indicator that more students are either going to graduate school directly from their undergraduate programs or that they are not employed.”

Jennifer Lane, a senior majoring in English, will be attending SUNY Stony Brook’s graduate school in the fall to start work on a Master’s of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature.

She said the economy and current job market played a role in her decision to attend graduate school.

“I want to be considered a competitive applicant in my future job prospects. Especially at a time like this in our economy, students are acquiring all the education they can afford in order to make them more qualified as they pursue their careers,” she explained.

Nancy Paul, director of the Career Development Center, advised students to be careful not to let the economy solely dictate their decision to go to graduate school.

“In a good or bad economy, the decision to attend graduate school should not be made in haste or based on assumptions about the job market,” she said. “Students need to give careful thought to their decision and obtain information by understanding the job market for their field of interest, doing some ‘reality testing’ to gain experience in the field.”