Enrollment up among underrepresented, Pa. resident and graduate students

November 13, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s overall enrollment remains strong, driven in part by growing graduate student enrollments and a 21% year-over-year increase in the number of students from underrepresented minority groups in Penn State’s entering undergraduate class, according to the Fact Book released by the University today (Nov. 13). The incoming baccalaureate class increased in size by 1.8% University wide over the previous year’s class. Across the institution, total 2019 enrollment at all levels was relatively stable at 96,408, down 0.7% from last year.

Underrepresented minority groups see rise

The number of students from underrepresented minority groups in the incoming cohort of undergraduate students (defined as those who self-identify as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Native Alaskan or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander) grew by 21% at University Park and 22% at the Commonwealth Campuses compared to last year’s incoming undergraduate cohort. This translates to a modest increase in enrollments of underrepresented minority groups at all levels -- 12.8% of the overall student population, compared to 12.5% in 2018 – in Penn State’s overall student body.

“We believe this significant increase in students from underrepresented minority groups was fueled in part by Penn State’s heightened visibility to high school students via the Common Application, which Penn State introduced in fall 2018 as an added option for applicants,” said Rob Pangborn, vice president and dean for undergraduate education. “Another contributing factor may have been our enhanced recruitment and support efforts for students from underrepresented backgrounds, through initiatives such as the Educational Equity Scholarships program and the Millennium Scholars program. We’re pleased with this progress and will continue our dedicated work to foster a diverse and welcoming community at Penn State for students of all backgrounds and experiences.” 

Pennsylvania resident student increase

The census also revealed that the total proportion of students enrolled at Penn State who are Pennsylvania residents remains strong, increasing by nearly a percentage point from the previous year to 62.1%, underscoring Penn State’s ongoing commitment to its land-grant mission to provide world-class educational opportunities to all qualified Pennsylvanians. Pennsylvania residents comprised 58.3% of University Park undergraduates and 81.9% of Commonwealth Campus undergraduates.

Graduate and professional enrollment

Penn State’s graduate and professional enrollment experienced an overall increase of 1.9% to 15,328 this year. Graduate enrollment at University Park increased by 3% to 6,084 and by 5% at Penn State Great Valley, the University’s school of graduate professional studies in the greater Philadelphia area, to 421. Law and medical enrollments declined by 1.6% and 2.7%, respectively. Penn State World Campus, which educates students online, experienced an overall 1.6% increase to 14,687, primarily due to a 3.5% increase at the graduate level.

International student enrollment sees slight increase

The University’s international student population increased slightly from 10.7% to 10.8%, reflecting a total of 10,416 international students across Penn State. 

Campus enrollment

At the University Park campus, enrollment increased by 1% to 46,723, in keeping with a long-term trend of relatively stable population size at the campus. Overall enrollment at the 19 Commonwealth Campuses stands at 27,939 for 2019, a decline of 3.2% from the previous year.

Despite the overall drop in enrollment at the Commonwealth Campuses, the campuses as a whole saw a small increase in the number of first-year baccalaureate students as well as incoming transfers.

“As the state’s sole land-grant institution, we continue to see it as our duty to provide Pennsylvanians across the state the opportunity to access an affordable, high-quality education,” Pangborn said. “One of the great advantages of Penn State is that we have a campus within driving distance of nearly every Pennsylvania resident, where students can have a transformative educational experience without having to journey far from home.”

The latest figures can be found online at the Penn State Fact Book website.

Last Updated November 20, 2019