University Enrollment Sees Uptick; Graduate School Hits Record Number

University Enrollment Sees Uptick; Graduate School Hits Record Number
Chieko Hara/University Relations

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas welcomed 27,562 students to the fall 2020 semester whether in-person or remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The preliminary numbers indicate a rise in Arkansas residents, as well as graduate and diverse students, and new freshmen.

For the fourth year in a row, enrollment topped 27,500, slightly higher than last year's fall number and representing the second-largest enrollment in the last five years. 

"With the volatility of the ongoing pandemic over the last several months, we are pleased by the growth in the freshman class and with transfer students," said Suzanne McCray, vice provost for enrollment and the dean of admissions. "We understood this was going to be an unconventional start to the fall semester, but recruiters were able to pivot to an online environment for prospective students and advisors connected individually with incoming students.  The new freshman class also includes a record number of National Merit students, and the overall average GPA of our freshmen increased as well.  The overall number reflects the great work in a variety of areas in addition to Enrollment Services—the Graduate School and International Education, the Global Campus, the Law School, the Office of Student Success, the Honors College and the academic colleges."

Growth in the master's programs accounted for the largest increase in graduate enrollment as a record-high 4,354 students enrolled this year, a nearly 4.5% increase from 2019. 

Kim Needy, dean of the Graduate School and International Education, said the success that the U of A is experiencing, particularly during a global pandemic, is a credit to the hard work of our faculty and staff and the reputation of the university.

"We have recruited students from traditionally underrepresented groups, and that effort is working, as we are seeing an increase in the percentage of ethnicities represented among graduate students," Needy said. She also recognized that some recent graduates have selected graduate school because of economic conditions in the U.S. related to COVID-19.

"In many cases, the jobs just aren't there," Needy said. "We are grateful that students see the University of Arkansas as a good option, extending their education by enrolling in one of our graduate programs."

The Graduate School reported growth in graduate programs within the College of Education and Health Professions, the College of Engineering, and most notably the Sam M. Walton College of Business, which led all others with a 30% increase in graduate enrollment. 

Arkansans made up 55.3% of overall enrollment with 2,490 being freshmen, nearly a 4% jump from 2019. Overall freshman enrollment is also back up from the previous year to 4,780.

Once again, women make up the majority of the incoming class with 54.8%, compared to 45.2% for men. The percentage of women in the university's total enrollment went up from last year, now making up 54.5% compared to 45.5% for men.

The number of enrolled students from underrepresented groups increased again to 5,925, an increase of nearly 300 students from 2019 and making up more than 21% of the student population. Hispanic and Latino students had the biggest jump, increasing to 2,531, adding more than 160 enrollees. The number of African-American students also rose to 1,251.

"Given the uncertainties of entering this fall with a global pandemic, our enrollment numbers are remarkable and demonstrate the dedication and passion of our student body as well as the commitment of our faculty and staff toward student success," said Charles Robinson, interim provost and vice chancellor of student and academic affairs. "We are also pleased to see an increase in students from underrepresented groups as we continue work to diversify our student body. And our increase in students from the state reflects our dedication to enrolling and graduating more Arkansans."

There are 22,825 undergraduate students enrolled and a total of 383 students enrolled in the School of Law.

These numbers are based on the 11th day enrollment "snapshot" required by the Department of Higher Education, and taken this year on Sept. 8. The numbers are expected to change slightly as corrections are made and officially reported in October.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 3 percent of colleges and universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


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