Projections for 2020 Enrollment

Replacing a previous enrollment plan that projected faster growth, Chancellor Randy Woodson and Provost Warwick Arden recently approved a long-range plan that calls for student enrollment to grow to 37,000 by the year 2020, instead of 40,000 by 2017. NC State currently has just under 35,000 students.

The new enrollment projections better fit the university’s strategic plan, the administrators say, and aim to improve the quality of NC State’s academic programs while maintaining access for North Carolinians. Much of the proposed growth over the next eight years will be in graduate students, especially doctoral students.

The total number of undergraduate students is projected to grow more slowly—by around 3 percent—while the number of doctoral students is projected to grow by 29 percent and the number of master’s students will rise by 16 percent. Under the plan, graduate students will account for about 28 percent of NC State’s student population in 2020, up from about 25 percent today.

The plan also holds more seats open to undergraduate transfer students and out-of-state students. Admitting more transfer students should ease some of the pressure on NC State colleges to teach lower division courses because external transfers have typically completed most of their general education requirements. Shifting enrollment growth from freshmen to transfers may also improve opportunities to recruit more diverse undergraduate students.

Investing in tenured and tenure-track faculty to mentor and train graduate students is critical to the plan, Woodson and Arden say. In the last decade, the total student body grew by about 20 percent while tenured and tenure-track faculty grew by just 1 percent.

For more details, read the full 2020 enrollment plan.

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