Eric C. Brevik, 291 Campus Dr., Dickinson State University, Dickinson, ND, Sergio Manacpo Abit Jr., Plant and Soil Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, David J. Brown, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, Holly A.S. Dolliver, 410 S. 3rd St., University of Wisconsin-River Falls, River Falls, WI, David G. Hopkins, Soil Science, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, David L. Lindbo, Room 4840-S, USDA-NRCS, Washington, DC, Andrew Manu, Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, Monday Mbila, Alabama A&M University, Normal, AL, Sanjai J. Parikh, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA, Darrell G. Schulze, 915 W State Street, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, Joey N. Shaw, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, Raymond Weil, Dept. Environmental Science & Technology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD and David C. Weindorf, Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
Soil science student enrollment at American universities declined from the 1990s through early 2000s even as overall undergraduate enrollment rose by about 11%. This created considerable consternation among the soil science community. The International Year of Soil seemed to be a good time to revisit this issue. Fourteen universities that offer programs in soil science were surveyed for the time period 2007-2014. The 14 schools represent about 20% of the institutions that offer soil science degrees/programs in the USA. Thirteen institutions submitted undergraduate and 10 graduate data which was analyzed with simple linear regression to find the slope of best-fit trend lines. For individual institutions, a slope of ≥0.5 (gain of ≥0.5 students/year) was considered growing enrollment, ≤-0.5 was considered shrinking enrollment, and -0.5 to 0.5 was considered stable enrollment. For aggregated data, the 0.5 standard was multiplied by the number of schools in the aggregated survey to determine whether enrollment was growing, shrinking, or stable. Six of the 13 schools reporting undergraduate data showed enrollment gains, five showed stable enrollments, one had declining enrollments, and one discontinued their undergraduate program. The undergraduate schools’ composite trend line had a slope of 55.0 students/year (R2 = 0.96), a strong trend of enrollment growth. However, the largest school had seen large enrollment growth. Therefore, the regression was also run with that institution removed. This gave a slope of 6.6 students/year (R2 = 0.90), indicating moderate growth. Four of the 10 graduate programs showed enrollment gains, five showed stable enrollments, and one showed declining enrollments. The composite graduate school trend line had a slope of 12.0 students/year (R2 = 0.97), an overall trend of enrollment growth. Both the undergraduate and graduate programs showed moderate growth, representing a reversal of enrollment trends reported at the beginning of the 21st Century.