BOZEMAN – While setting records for new students this year, Montana State University has seen slight dips in its graduate student enrollment, and now officials hope to change that with $1 million in funding.

MSU’s fall 2017 enrollment is 16,703. That’s 2 percent above last fall’s enrollment. But this year’s graduate enrollment sits at 1,978, which is 62 students less than last year.

The university announced it will commit $1 million in funding towards recruiting and retaining more graduate students to their programs.

“MSU values its graduate students,” said MSU spokesman Michael Becker. “Our faculty really enjoy mentoring those students and enjoy the opportunity to engage in high-end research, cutting-edge research with some of these students in their laboratories.”

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The money will go toward incentives, like paying for prospective students to visit the campus, paying for merit-based awards for doctoral students and signing bonuses for those who choose to continue their higher education at the university.

In its effort to increase those enrollment numbers, Becker said MSU also hopes to equip the students with the skills they need to enter the workforce.

“The important thing is that we are trying to not only increase those number of students, but keep them here to finish those higher degrees in a reasonable amount of time. We don’t want them spending 10 years to finish a doctoral degree,” he said.

“We want them to get out in as little time as they need so that they can get out into Montana and the rest of the United States and the world and take the knowledge that they gained at MSU and cultivate it here and make the world a better place,” Becker said.

 MTN’s Kaitlin Corbett