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Northwest students visited the student organization fair in August in the Student Rec Center. This fall's student body comprises the largest enrollment in the University's history. (Northwest Missouri State University photos)

Northwest students visited the student organization fair in August in the Student Rec Center. This fall's student body comprises the largest enrollment in the University's history. (Northwest Missouri State University photos)

Sept. 17, 2021

Northwest breaks enrollment record with 8% increase in total headcount, marking fourth consecutive year of growth


Northwest Missouri State University’s total headcount this fall is 7,870 students, making it the highest enrollment in the institution’s 116-year history, according to the University’s fall census count this week.

The enrollment number represents an 8 percent increase from a year ago and the fourth consecutive fall that Northwest will record an increased headcount. The University’s record-breaking headcount is fueled by large jumps in international enrollment, which increased 59 percent; graduate enrollment, which increased 44 percent; online enrollment, which increased 19 percent; and dual credit enrollment, which increased 16 percent.

Additionally, Northwest maintains a high retention rate with 76 percent of last year’s freshman class – the second-highest rate in the institution’s history – choosing to return to the University this fall.

“We’re so proud of our students who have been buoyant and shown so much resolve throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. “Our faculty and staff continue shining through multiple challenges and delivering on an affordable and high-quality education. Record enrollments do not happen by accident or chance. Our Northwest team is to be commended as we uplift our culture and deliver on being a high-performing institution and one whose future is vibrant."

Affordable education helps students succeed

Illustrating its quality, Northwest’s placement rates indicate that 96 percent of 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 University’s most recent dataZippia, a career website, names Northwest the best college in Missouri for getting a job.

In addition to its core competencies of safe, trusted, invested and resourceful, Northwest 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.

Northwest’s attention to student success also is evident in its work with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) on an effort to validate student success strategies. Northwest has maintained an on-ground learning environment during the COVID-19 pandemic, and AASCU selected it to receive the 2021 Excellence and Innovation Award for Campus Pandemic Response in the rural category.

In relation to value, Northwest includes textbooks and a laptop in its tuition costs, which is among the lowest in the nation, 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. 

Ninety percent of first-year students receive an institutional scholarship or grant, which includes 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 students graduate 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.

“We are thrilled to achieve record-breaking enrollment, consistently strong retention and an increase in the graduation rate of our latest cohort, despite the unique challenges present during the last 18 months,” Dr. Allison Hoffmann, Northwest’s assistant vice president of admissions and student success, said. “The collective effort of our entire campus community led to achieving these enrollment and student success outcomes. We are pleased with our progress while remaining focused on the importance of achieving future enrollment and student success goals.”

Students walk across the Northwest campus on the University's first day of classes in August.

Students walk across the Northwest campus on the University's first day of classes in August.

Other enrollment numbers

Northwest’s fall enrollment of first-time freshmen is 964, and 38 percent of those students identify as first-generation college students. The number of first-time transfers to the University is 305 students, up 4 percent from last fall.

Additionally, Northwest reports 1,594 students, or 20 percent of its student population, identify with underrepresented groups or hail from countries outside the United States. Northwest’s total domestic minority enrollment is 892 students, who represent another 11 percent of the student body.

The University’s 702 international students represent 9 percent of the student body and hail from 38 countries with most of those students coming from India, Nepal, Nigeria and Brazil.

While the University’s in-state student population is 5,052, representing a 4 percent increase from a year ago, Northwest students hail from a total of 44 states this fall as the institution continues to draw well from Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. Out-of-state enrollment increased by 15 percent from a year ago.

Away from Northwest’s main campus in Maryville, the number of students enrolled in online programs increased to 2,297 students, comprised mostly of graduate students. At Northwest-Kansas City, where the University offers a range of coursework, including dual credit offerings and degree completion programs, 625 students are enrolled.

Northwest undergraduate students remain academically strong with an average ACT score of 21, which exceeds state and national averages, and an average high school GPA of 3.50.


Media contact:

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