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Graduate office to serve growing area of Brenau University
Christina White is director of the Office of Graduate Admissions at Brenau University. Interest in graduate education has grown exponentially for the school, leading them to create this specialized office. - photo by Tom Reed
Brenau University is looking to expand its graduate programs, beginning with a new admissions office.
The Office of Graduate Admissions, which opened this month, will work exclusively to connect potential students with professors and programs of study.
“We want to grow strategically,” said Christina White, director of the Office of Graduate Admissions. “Having an office solely focused on graduate students is important.”
The office is especially important because the nature of graduate studies is so different from undergraduate studies, said Gail Starich, dean of the School of Health and Science.
While undergraduate education is broad and requires classes in many different subjects, graduate education is “very narrow and quite deep,” Starich said.
As a result, admissions focuses on acquainting students with the particular program they are interested in.
“It’s more about an institutional focus,” Starich said. “Graduate admissions is really focused on the graduate program.”
White said she will work to connect potential students with faculty, students and other opportunities to help them make their decision.
“Most grad students are really looking for a connection with a professor, an opportunity for research,” White said. “We are sort of the intermediary, so they can get what they need to move forward with their decision.”
White said Brenau is shifting its focus toward graduate studies in response to the economy as well as changes in various industries.
The fields of occupational therapy and interior design, for example, now require graduate degrees in order to get licensed and practice.
“So many of the areas we serve are looking for upper-level degrees,” White said. 
“We think that will continue on, which is why we are pursuing some doctoral degrees as well.”
Starich said upper-level degrees also provide an edge when applying for jobs and security for those who are already employed.
Those with advanced degrees on average account for only 1-2 percent of unemployment rates nationally.
“If the job market gets tighter, you often need increased credentials,” Starich said. 
“As the United States moves to more and more folks having bachelor’s degrees, we’re going to start seeing more and more requirements for graduate education.”