University of Montana sees a growth spurt

Enrollment takes a 30 percent bump

MONTANA LIVING – It's been a long time coming, but the University of Montana is growing again.

university of montana fall 2021 enrollment increase, montana living


With a 30 percent increase in the incoming class, the University of Montana increased its total enrollment for the first time in a decade.

UM’s first-year class, entire student body, graduate school and Missoula College enrollment grew in the fall 2021 census. With overall student headcount growth of 3%, UM welcomed 10,106 students to campus this fall. UM’s official first-year student head count was 1,276, a 30% increase over last year. Enrollment at Missoula College rose 7.4% over last year to 1,243 students.

UM President Seth Bodnar said the positive enrollment trend reflects the University’s revamped recruitment process and focus. “This year marks UM’s return to growth,” Bodnar said. “We have rebuilt the way we recruit, retain and market our flagship university to prospective students. This first-year class is the result of that important work, and the entire UM family is eager for sustained enrollment growth in the years ahead.”

            Additionally, for the third year in a row, UM improved its student retention rate, now at 75.4%. This figure measures the rate at which students persist at UM to finish their degree. The rate has risen over 7% from a low of 68.5% when Bodnar started his leadership post. UM’s fall 2021 retention rate is the highest in nearly a decade.

            “From the first day our students step foot on campus, we are committed to their success,” Bodnar said. “This rapid improvement in student retention reflects our mission to help every student find their own path and flourish. I am especially thankful to our UM faculty and staff, who dedicate themselves to this mission.”

            The fall 2021 semester also marks a new all-time-high for graduate student enrollment at UM. The 2,637 graduate students enrolled in UM this semester represent a 2% increase over the previous record set last fall. This student growth comes on the heels of UM’s record-shattering research activity last year, much of which is conducted by UM graduate students. UM maintains its status as the largest graduate and professional school in the state.

            With the fall semester census complete, UM Vice President for Operations and Finance Paul Lasiter reported that net tuition revenues for the University are projected to be in line with budgeted amounts.

“Compared to last fiscal year, we estimated that fiscal 2022’s total net tuition and fee revenues would increase nearly 8% as a result of enrollment growth and rate increases,” said Lasiter. “Our results for the past summer and current fall semester are in line with our total revenue projection.” 

            UM Associate Vice President for Enrollment Mary Kreta said UM’s enrollment future is bright.

            “Given the complex challenges that universities are facing across the country with COVID-19, we are excited to welcome our largest class to campus in many years,” Kreta said. “We are already hard at work recruiting the next class of Grizzlies, and we are optimistic that our University will see continued growth in the years ahead.”  

            In addition to overall student growth, UM made significant enrollment progress in the following areas:

  • UM welcomed 649 transfer students this fall, a 13% increase over last year.

  • 3,788 students from outside Montana are enrolled in UM this semester, a 10% increase over last year.

  • UM’s full-time equivalent enrollment is 8,008, a 2.5% increase over last year.

Bodnar thanked the entire UM staff, faculty and larger Missoula community for their support of the flagship.

            “There are people in every corner of this University who have worked extremely hard to create positive, marked change for UM, and I am deeply pleased to share in this success with them,” Bodnar said. “Our extended alumni and business networks also deserve thanks, as well as those who continue to support our University. The success of UM is a shared responsibility, and we have much to look forward together as we enter into a new period of growth and renewal.” 

            UM’s complete student enrollment census data can be found online. More information can be found at the University Data Office website.


Photo: A large incoming class and improved retention have boosted UM enrollment 3% this fall.

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