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A student walks under the Memorial Bell Tower Wednesday morning, which marked the first day of the fall 2020 semester at Northwest. (Photos by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

A student walks under the Memorial Bell Tower Wednesday morning, which marked the first day of the fall 2020 semester at Northwest. (Photos by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Aug. 20, 2020

Northwest opens with 3 percent enrollment increase, second-highest retention ever, large class of first-generation students


Northwest Missouri State University began its 2020-21 academic year with a 3 percent rise in its total enrollment from a year ago, marking a third consecutive year of increased headcount while maintaining its high retention rate.

Northwest began its fall semester Wednesday, marking a resumption of on-ground classes with COVID-19 mitigation measures at its main campus in Maryville as well as it Northwest-Kansas City location in Gladstone.

On the first day of classes, the University recorded a total headcount of 7,018, compared to 6,841 students on the first day of the 2019-2020 academic year. Additionally, 76 percent of Northwest’s 2019 freshman class returned to the University for a second year, which is even with the previous year. That retention rate is the second-highest in the institution’s history after Northwest secured a record 78 percent retention rate in the fall of 2018.

The University’s enrollment total includes a 29 percent increase in first-time graduate students and a 26 percent increase in overall graduate student enrollment. Online enrollment at the University also is up 15 percent.  

Northwest’s freshman headcount is 1,248, with 44 percent of the class identifying as a first-generation college student.

All enrollment numbers are preliminary until Northwest’s official census occurs Wednesday, Sept. 16.

“Our increased enrollment speaks to the work of our incredible teams and brand ambassadors who carry out Northwest’s objective to provide an affordable, high-quality educational experience,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. “Northwest is tuned in to the needs of its employer partners and its region, and we are focused on graduating students who are ready to launch their careers when they complete their degrees.”

Illustrating Northwest’s high quality, the University boasts a graduation rate in the 89th percentile of its national peer group. In addition, 97 percent of Northwest bachelor’s degree earners and 99 percent of master’s degree earners secure employment or continue their education within six months of graduation, according to the most recent data. 

Northwest also places a high emphasis on profession-based learning to help graduates get a jumpstart on their careers. Students have opportunities to build their résumés with experiences on campus in nearly every area of study, including the Horace Mann Laboratory SchoolNational Public Radio affiliate KXCV, the R.T. Wright FarmMozingo Outdoor Education Recreation Area or Knacktive, a student-driven integrated digital marketing communications agency.

In relation to value, Northwest includes textbooks and a laptop in its tuition costs, saving students an estimated $7,200 over four years. Northwest also offers 1,200 student employment positions, allowing students to earn money while building professional skills through the internationally benchmarked program. 

Eighty-seven percent of first-time freshmen receive some form of financial aid, which includes the Northwest’s innovative Bearcat Advantage and American Dream Grant programs. The University also offers low-cost housing, and a rate structure for graduate students that is based on market demand and program offerings rather than a traditional residency-based model.

Furthermore, to help undergraduate students complete their degree in four years or less and accrue less debt, Northwest’s “Complete 30” initiative encourages students to take a personalized approach to meeting their academic goals and complete 30 credit hours during the course of an academic year.

For more information about Northwest and its performance, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/facts/.


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704