The University of Georgia saw its largest-ever enrollment, with 40,118 students in fall 2021. Growth is up 2.5% since last year, with the most significant gains coming in graduate and professional student enrollment.
This is the first time UGA enrollment has risen above 40,000 students. Enrollment has steadily increased over the years, with 34,816 students enrolled 10 years ago.
Fall 2021 marks the first time undergraduate student enrollment has exceeded 30,000 students.
In August, UGA welcomed more than 5,800 students in the first-year class. More than 10,000 new students—including graduate, professional and transfer students—began studies at UGA this fall.
UGA’s fall enrollment shows an increasingly diverse student body. For fall 2021, 31% of students self-identified as a member of a racial or ethnic minority group. This number is up from 22% in 2011.
“I am proud of the University of Georgia’s rapid improvement in degree completion rates and our record enrollment,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “We are helping to secure the future of our state and nation by equipping more students than ever with the education and experience they need to become tomorrow’s leaders.”
Growth in enrollment
“Overall, we’re seeing growth in every area: undergraduate enrollment, transfer student enrollment and a big increase in graduate students,” said Rahul Shrivastav, vice president for instruction.
UGA has seen a 10% growth in transfer students in the last year. The university recently launched a transfer pathway program that gives select wait-listed students the chance to reapply for admission a semester earlier than the traditional transfer route. UGA also hired a transfer student advisor to assist transfer students with their transition.
UGA experienced a 6% increase in graduate and professional student enrollment to reach a record of 9,952 students this fall. The growth was due to a comprehensive institutional commitment to expanding graduate education, and substantial enrollment growth was observed in programs in the College of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Public Health, the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. International graduate enrollment also increased by 10.5% over last year after disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in fall 2020.
“This strong growth in graduate enrollment indicates an increasing demand for training beyond the bachelor’s degree,” said Ron Walcott, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School. “More than ever, students are recognizing the value of a graduate degree for achieving their professional career goals.”
Improving retention and completion rates
While enrolling more students, UGA continues to improve student outcomes. Both UGA’s first-year retention rate and completion rates were up from the previous year, according to the latest data from the Office of Institutional Research.
Retention is up half a percentage point to 95%. The six-year completion rose to 88%, a new university record. The four-year completion rate is 72%, up from 63% just 10 years ago. The average student takes less than four years to complete their undergraduate degree.
A number of programs and initiatives launched over the last few years have contributed to the positive trends in enrollment and completion rates. Faculty hiring initiatives have lowered the student-to-faculty ratio and increased the number of small classes, while enhanced academic advising services have helped students achieve their goals more efficiently. Expanded tutoring, mentorship and peer-learning programs have been launched to further increase student support. These offerings reflect collaborative efforts across campus.
To reduce financial barriers for students, UGA has increased need-based scholarships. The Georgia Commitment Scholarship program has created over 640 student scholarships and committed $95 million toward need-based awards. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the Office of Student Financial Aid disbursed $382.9 million of federal, state, institutional and other/external aid to 29,243 unique undergraduate students. UGA also has eliminated lab and course material fees, saving students an estimated $1.2 million annually.
“At both the undergraduate and graduate levels, students are increasingly choosing to pursue their academic goals at the University of Georgia,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “The extraordinary levels of success they achieve reflects their talent and the outstanding learning experiences our faculty and programs provide.”