Why applications are soaring at this N.J. institution

Innovation, reputation and a focus on STEM have made applying to the New Jersey Institute of Technology a must.

A select group of universities across the country is enjoying record application numbers, led by the top research institutions, those that provide clear paths to future jobs, and especially ones that have a lean toward technology.

In the minds of students, the New Jersey Institute of Technology has it all.

NJIT, ranked No. 1 nationally by Forbes for in upward economic mobility of its lowest-income students, on Tuesday said it broke its record for first-year applications for the second consecutive year. In fact, all five of its colleges saw increases, including its Tuchman School of Management at more than 20%.

When students are looking for places to apply, NJIT checks a lot of boxes that matter. Aside from its academic prowess, it rates high in two important categories during this challenging economic climate – PayScale.com ranks it in the top 2% for mid-career earning among all institutions and The Princeton Review has it among its Best Value Colleges.

Combine that with the growing popularity of STEM majors and the addition of several new tech-driven programs, and it’s understandable why students might decide to throw an application at NJIT if they believe they have a chance to get in.

“Prospective students are attracted to our technology-focused programs. They see value in the STEM fields as well as our non-STEM fields,” said Stephen Eck, executive director of university admissions. “We know that NJIT, in every respect, is a desirable place to be. These application numbers reflect the continued growth of NJIT, its academic offerings, its reputation and how significant NJIT is to the success of New Jersey and the region (a $2.8 billion annual economic impact).”

The drivers of success

NJIT’s total enrollment sits at around 11,400 for both its undergraduate and graduate programs. This spring, it has received 11,250 applications. The Tuchman School alone has garnered 1,000 applications.

Those uplifting surges also have been experienced at other top-tier institutions, including Ivy League schools such as Harvard, which had to extend its deadline to take in a record number of applications. Meanwhile, at some public universities and smaller institutions that don’t have similar prestige, it has been a struggle to get students interested, a potential holdover from last year’s drop in first-year students applying because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NJIT has managed to dodge those impacts. Yes, the Tuchman School is red-hot with its new undergrad program in financial technology and so is its College of Computing, which has seen applications soar 19% year over year and 50% in two years, driven by a new program in data science.

But its unique offerings such as animation, game design and UI/UX design helped to lift applications 16% for its College of Architecture and Design. Its new programs in forensic science and cyberpsychology helped lead to a 15% rise in applications in its College of Science and Liberal Arts. Engineering has seen a slight uptick at 4%.

Expanding curriculum and thoughtful, innovative programs in emerging fields – along with its standout reputation – continue to wow prospective students.

Take its most recent partnership with the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. The two are combining forces on an Institute for Future Technologies that will be housed in New Jersey that they say will be a “hub of technological innovation to provide bespoke cyber technologies, civil and environmental engineering education, applied research and development, and entrepreneurship through technological commercialization efforts.”

Part of the collaboration will focus on key issues that affect citizens of both countries and hit home with students looking to make a difference in the world, such as minimizing environmental impacts by creating new systems and materials to better handle natural disasters, with cybersecurity protection at its core.

“The last year of COVID-driven reality has proven that computing, digital and cyber technologies are now more important than ever before,” said Craig Gotsman, distinguished professor and dean of NJIT’s Ying Wu College of Computing. “Leadership and innovation in this field can be the key to significant economic development, and NJIT is uniquely positioned to make it happen in New Jersey.”

Added Professor Limor Aharonson-Daniel, Vice President for Global Engagement at Ben-Gurion University: “It is wonderful to be able to share the academic excellence and unique characteristics of BGU and NJIT to create new synergy and partnerships. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration leading to many scientific breakthroughs and to the success of our graduates who will gain a dual international degree.”

Chris Burt
Chris Burt
Chris is a reporter and associate editor for University Business and District Administration magazines, covering the entirety of higher education and K-12 schools. Prior to coming to LRP, Chris had a distinguished career as a multifaceted editor, designer and reporter for some of the top newspapers and media outlets in the country, including the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Albany Times-Union and The Boston Globe. He is a graduate of Northeastern University.

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