KU grows enrollment for fifth straight year, sets all-time highs in key metrics

LAWRENCE — It is a record-setting year for the University of Kansas.

KU’s enrollment has grown for the fifth straight year, according to data released today by the Kansas Board of Regents. Additionally, KU has recruited the most talented freshman class in history and set all-time highs in retention and graduation rates.

KU has 28,510 students enrolled across all campuses, an increase of 63 students from last year. It is KU’s highest enrollment since 2011.

This year’s freshmen have the highest average ACT score and high school GPA of any class in KU history. Additionally, the freshman class grew to 4,164 students, marking the sixth time in seven years the freshman class has grown.

KU also set records for retention and graduation this year. The one-year retention rate for the fall 2017 cohort is an all-time high 83.9 percent, while the university’s five-year and six-year graduation rates are also at record highs.

“This is a special year for the University of Kansas,” said Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. "We are pleased to have grown our enrollment for the fifth straight year and to have welcomed the most talented freshmen in history, which is a clear indication that top students want to attend a major research university that offers nationally ranked academic programs and life-changing opportunities. Most importantly, these students are persisting and graduating at record-high rates, which benefits our state, our economy and the society we serve.”

KU’s record-high retention and graduation rates are the results of purposeful efforts to elevate the university’s reputation nationally, recruit top students to KU and, once they arrive, provide them the support they need. For example, since 2011, KU has revamped its financial aid offerings, launched a new curriculum, implemented new admissions standards and strengthened academic advising.

“The success we’re seeing today is largely the result of strategic decisions we made in past years,” Girod said. “Looking ahead, we must continue to prioritize initiatives that bring top scholars to KU and enable them to succeed as students and, ultimately, as graduates.”

This year’s enrollment growth includes a 12.5 percent student credit hour increase in academic programs administered by the KU Edwards Campus, which routinely measures enrollment by credit hours due to its mix of full-time and part-time students and other factors. The credit hour increase includes enrollment in KU programs offered in Leavenworth, which grew their student credit hours by 47.9 percent. This year’s Edwards Campus credit hour growth is more than double the 6.2 percent increase from 2016 to 2017.

“Students looking to start and advance careers, as well as employers looking to develop their talent, are increasingly engaging with us,” said Edwards Campus Vice Chancellor David Cook. “Our longstanding and newer degree and certificate programs prepare individuals for careers in business, engineering, science, technology, public service and more. These roles are in high demand by the local organizations supporting our communities and businesses driving our economy.”

Within the freshman class, international enrollment increased from 146 students to 180 students – a jump of 23.3 percent from last year.

KU Medical Center enrollment increased 3.9 percent to an all-time high. This includes increases in undergraduate and graduate populations.

The university’s minority student population increased this year to a record-high 21.3 percent of the KU population.

KU saw a 3.2 percent increase in transfer students, which continues to be an area of emphasis for the university and an important part of KU's diversity strategy. In recent years, KU has launched new partnership agreements with community colleges that make it easier for students to continue their studies at KU, including the Degree in 3 program and a new partnership with Metropolitan Community College.

KU now has a record-high 1,442 military-affiliated students, more than double the number from 2012. This growth comes on the heels of the Military Times ranking KU the No. 5 school in the nation for military-affiliated students.

The university is working to bring in next year’s class of Jayhawks. Prospective students are encouraged to attend Crimson and Blue Day – an open-house-style event for high school students and their families – and apply for scholarships by Nov. 1.

View the full enrollment data report online.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: After using headcount as the unit of measure for many years, the Board of Regents this year transitioned to a full-time equivalency metric. For today’s announcement, KU is continuing to use the headcount metric for the convenience of media, policymakers and others who are tracking KU’s year-over-year enrollment progress and want to make an apples-to-apples comparison with previous years’ data.)

Mon, 10/01/2018


Joe Monaco

Media Contacts

Joe Monaco

KU Office of Public Affairs