Freshmen up 4.3%, including 6.1% at Community Colleges
HERNDON, VA – (Feb. 2, 2023) – According to a new report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, fall undergraduate enrollment has begun to stabilize in 2022, contracting only by 0.6% or about 94,000 students, compared to fall 2021. However, postsecondary enrollment remains well below pre-pandemic levels, down about 1.23 million undergraduates and 1.11 million total enrollment, both undergraduate and graduate, compared to fall 2019.
Undergraduate enrollment was essentially flat at community colleges (+0.4%, +16,700 students) and private nonprofit four-years (-0.1% or -2,500 students), following the previous year’s declines (-6.7% and -1.6%, respectively). Fall enrollment declines in the public four-year sector were larger, dropping another 1.4%, or 88,000 students. Private for-profit four-year institutions added 29,000 more students or +5.0% from fall 2021.
Meanwhile, graduate enrollment has fared more poorly. Fall graduate enrollment decreased by 39,000 students or 1.2% after two consecutive years of strong growth (+3.0% in 2020; +2.4% in 2021). This suggests that the pandemic-led influxes of post-baccalaureate enrollment has ended.
“It is encouraging to start seeing signs of a recovery in the numbers of new freshmen,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “Although freshmen classes are still well below pre-pandemic levels, especially at Community Colleges, the fact that they are swinging upward in all sectors is a positive indicator for the future.”
In addition, the Fall 2022 Current Term Enrollment Estimates Expanded Edition (CTEE) showed:
- Fall freshman enrollment has begun to rise, increasing by about 97,000 (+4.3%) compared to the previous fall. However, freshman enrollment remains down 150,000 compared to 2019.
- The Northeast and Midwest undergraduate enrollments declined at about double the national rate, losing 24,000 (-1.1%) and 34,000 (-1.2%) undergraduates, respectively. Enrollment grew slightly in the West and the South (+0.5%, 20,000 students and +0.2%, 8,000 students, respectively).
- Male undergraduate enrollments were stable (+0.2%, +15,000 students) while female enrollment continued declines from 2021 (-1.5%, -122,000 students). This extended the trend of improved enrollment patterns for men relative to women first seen in fall 2021.
- Latinx and Asian students bucked the slight national decline, with their undergraduate enrollment rising 1.6% and 1.8%, respectively.
- Enrollment in health sciences programs declined across all degree levels.
- Undergraduate business programs grew from 2021 (+1.2%, +19,000 students) and computer and information sciences gained more than 10% or 54,000 students in fall 2022.
- Business, health professions and education—three of the five most popular graduate programs—posted headcount declines in fall 2022.
- Computer science graduate program enrollment growth accelerated in fall 2022, increasing by 18.4 percent or 30,000 students. Since fall 2017, graduate Computer sciences programs have increased 74.1% or 82,000 more students.
New in This Expanded Edition:
- Race and Ethnicity: the Research Center is now including race and ethnicity breakouts in most national-level analyses.
- Institutional Selectivity: For the first time in the CTEE series, viewers can examine changes in undergraduate enrollment and freshman enrollment by institutional selectivity across approximately 1,000 public and private nonprofit four-year institutions.
- Primarily Associate Degree Granting Baccalaureate Institutions: Given the increasing number of two-year institutions with an associate degree focus that have begun to offer bachelor’s degree programs, these institutions have been placed in the new category PABs throughout this report.
- State Data: In addition to state enrollment by sector, we are now detailing enrollment by major field of study at the state level. Full major field data by state are available in Data Appendices. Also, primarily online institutions that conventionally operate across state lines are now removed from enrollment counts for individual states and are grouped together with other brick-and-mortar multistate institutions.
- Dashboard Report: The CTEE report is now presented as a data dashboard, allowing viewers to analyze, visualize, and interact with the longitudinal data quickly. While a PDF report is no longer published, the underlying data for the dashboard and other full details are available in Data Appendices for download as an Excel file.
The CTEE Report Series provides national enrollment estimates by institutional sector, enrollment intensity, age group, gender, major field, and state. See the report’s Methodological Notes for more details, which can be downloaded from the website on the day of release.
The CTEE Expanded Edition report is supported in part by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through grant R305X220022 to Teachers College, Columbia University. This project is part of the Accelerating Recovery in Community Colleges (ARCC) Network. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.
About the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center is the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse. The Research Center collaborates with higher education institutions, states, school districts, high schools, and educational organizations as part of a national effort to better inform education leaders and policymakers. Through accurate longitudinal data outcomes reporting, the Research Center enables better educational policy decisions leading to improved student outcomes.
The Research Center currently collects data from more than 3,600 postsecondary institutions, which represent 97 percent of the nation’s postsecondary enrollments in degree-granting institutions, as of 2019. Clearinghouse data track enrollments nationally and are not limited by institutional and state boundaries. To learn more, visit https://nscresearchcenter.org.