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Record-Setting Graduate Students, Retention Rates Highlight ESU Enrollment Report

Another year of a record-high number of graduate students enrolled at Emporia State University helped offset an expected drop in new, first-time students enrolled for fall 2021.

Data also showed continued record highs in student retention as well as the highest graduation rates recorded.

Emporia State’s 20th day enrollment report showed:

  • 5,615 total enrollment for fall 2021, a decline of 3.7% from fall 2020;
  • 2,667 graduate students, an increase of 0.8% from fall 2020 and the highest enrollment on record;
  • 2,948 undergraduate students, a 7.3% decline from fall 2020;
  • The highest retention rate on record for sophomore to junior year;
  • The highest retention rate on record for junior to senior year; and
  • All-time highest four-year and six-year graduation rates.

“We expected lower undergraduate enrollment this year. After a senior year of high school drastically affected by COVID, many first-year students chose to take a gap year before starting college. These pandemic concerns paired with several years of record graduation rates negatively impacted this fall’s undergraduate enrollment,” said Dr. Jim Williams, ESU senior vice president, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

“We are pleased that students who already started with us chose to continue their education at ESU and are excited about this recruitment rebuilding year. Emporia State has all of the right pieces in place to grow in Fall 2022,” Williams added.

Distance education, primarily at the graduate level, also brought growth to the university. A new program, ESU’s Master of Business Administration – Global is offered in China and taught in Mandarin with English language skills included. It is a partnership with Tsinghua Holdings Zhidao Education with locations in Beijing and Shanghai. Tsinghua University is the highest ranked university in China. The program began in August and introduces additional students to Emporia State.

Other graduate programs that saw growth were informatics, art therapy counseling, clinical counseling and the Master of Science in elementary education. Two programs that offer both traditional and accelerated online programs saw growth — Master of Science in Information Technology and Master of Business Administration.

Emporia State offers 13 accelerated online graduate programs. Of the students enrolled in these programs, 76% are Kansas residents.

“We are pleased that these graduate programs and Global MBA saw enrollment gains in an exceedingly challenging year,” said ESU President Allison D. Garrett. “Sustaining and growing enrollment is a combination of recruiting new students and offering programs that allow all of our students to fulfill their dreams. As Emporia State emerges from the pandemic, we expect strong enrollments to follow. Emporia State has continued to remain affordable and to post strong career outcomes and low debt for students.”