Wichita State University's efforts to transform the educational experience for students and redefine the role of a university to foster statewide economic growth have yielded remarkable results: the highest enrollment in its 128-year history.
Combined enrollment by headcount across all Wichita State University locations for fall 2023 is 23,203, according to the annual data released today by the Kansas Board of Regents.
For the Wichita State campus, the numbers represent an increase of 3.7% in fall student headcount from 16,921 in 2022 to 17,548 in 2023. That’s the largest number of students ever choosing to enroll at Wichita State.
At WSU Tech, student headcount increased 12.6% from 5,021 last year to 5,655 this year — also the highest headcount ever for WSU Tech.
"As we celebrate our highest enrollments ever at Wichita State and WSU Tech, we are experiencing firsthand the limitless potential of Shocker Nation,” said Wichita State President Rick Muma. “This success can be wholly attributed to our steadfast commitment to the people and businesses of Kansas, as we create an affordable and accessible educational experience for our students, fuel the talent pipeline for employers, and support the economic growth of our state. Together, we are forging a brighter future for all Kansans.”
Much of Wichita State’s enrollment success has been largely driven by the Kansas Legislature’s recent investment of more than $6 million to Wichita State, allowing the university to provide scholarships for students to pursue their dreams, grow their education, and ultimately achieve their career goals.
Wichita State enrollment highlights
- Highest headcount in Wichita State’s history with 17,548.
- Highest ever number of student credit hours: 168,615.
- 1,663 students entering college for the first time, which is the third highest in WSU’s history.
- 2% increase in student credit hours for undergraduate degree-seeking students
- 2.8% increase in fall-to-fall persistence among undergraduate full-time freshmen. This is driven in large part by WSU’s Student Success and Persistence initiative, launched last year to support students in achieving their academic goals.
- New and returning students from Sedgwick County are up 2.2%.
- 1.8% increase in undergraduate degree-seeking students, reversing a four-year decline in this group.
- New students from Shocker partnerships in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas are up by 4.8% — a direct result of WSU’s tuition discount program that offers in-state tuition to students in 13 other states.
- Continued growth in first-generation undergraduate freshmen, bringing the overall first-generation percent to 48.8%.
- Underrepresented minority students at the undergraduate level grew in the past year by 23.8%.
- 17% of undergraduate students identify as Hispanic, which qualifies Wichita State as an Emerging Hispanic Serving Institution.
WSU Tech enrollment highlights
- WSU Tech’s fall 2023 enrollment is the highest total headcount and credit hours in the history of the college for any semester with 5,655 students and 48,379 credit hours.
- Highest adult (post-high school) headcount, credit hours, and FTE a semester in the history of the college and the highest number of high school students enrolled for a fall semester in the history of the college.
- Enrollment of recent high school graduates increased significantly, with a noteworthy 14.1% rise compared to the previous year.
- First-generation students make up 63% of the total adult population, showing a slight increase from the previous year's 62%.
- A noteworthy portion of WSU Tech's adult enrollment, accounting for 25%, identifies as Hispanic or Latino and equals the highest number of Hispanic and Latino students ever enrolled in a single semester in the college's history.
“Our remarkable enrollment growth at WSU Tech is a testament to our unwavering commitment to accessible, high-quality education,” said WSU Tech President Dr. Sheree Utash. “As we see more students choosing us to pursue their dreams, we are also fulfilling our mission to meet the workforce needs of our region, preparing the next generation of skilled professionals.”
Several key programs and initiatives contributed to the enrollment growth at both institutions.
Wichita State University program successes
- Overall increase of 19.1% in the three data science and analytics programs: business analytics in W. Frank Barton School of Business, mathematics — data science in Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and data science in the College of Engineering.
- Production management, specifically in management science and supply chain management, within the W. Frank Barton School of Business has experienced a consistent increase in enrollment during the past five years with the most recent academic year resulting in a 24.7% increase.
- 4% increase in health management in the College of Health Professions, a program that has continuously grown in the past five years
- The College of Fine Arts continues to grow with a 6.3% increase in enrollment in studio art, graphic design, and digital arts.
- 14.1% increase in the Masters of Counseling program in the College of Applied Studies.
- The Teacher Apprentice Program™ is the largest online program at Wichita State and continues to grow each academic year. The recent 7% growth represents the current partnership the College of Applied Studies has with the Kansas State Department of Education’s Registered Apprentice Program.
- Engineering management program in the College of Engineering grew 23%, continuing a steady increase over the past five years.
- Concurrent enrollment with high schools increased 29.1%. Contributing to that growth, Wichita State and WSU Tech launched Shocker Academy, which is a pilot program (currently only available on a limited basis in the Maize school district) that serves as an opportunity for high school students to complete college credit while still attending high school at affordable rates.
WSU Tech program successes
- WSU Tech witnessed a remarkable uptick in the utilization of the Kansas Promise scholarship, a financial aid initiative designed by the Kansas Legislature. In just the first three months of the 2023-2024 school year, a total of 396 students at WSU Tech have already been awarded this scholarship, amounting to over $2.1 million in funds. This stands in stark contrast to the figures from the entire 2022-2023 fiscal year when 252 students received the scholarship, totaling $1 million.
- Accounting and business programs achieved significant growth, with headcount increases of 48% and 39% compared to the previous fall semester. This success can be attributed to the effectiveness of the Koch Accounting Apprenticeship program as well as a successful partnership with WSU’s Barton School of Business.
- WSU Tech welcomed culinary arts students to its new downtown National Institute for Culinary and Hospitality Education campus, resulting in a 44% increase in student enrollment compared to the previous year.
- Enrollment in the prerequisites for practical nurse, registered nurse, and surgical technology programs saw an impressive 39% increase from the previous year.
- Several additional programs experienced strong headcount enrollment increases: cloud computing, 41%; welding, 23%; automotive service, 17%; aviation maintenance, 9%.
“The extraordinary and dedicated faculty and staff of Wichita State have worked diligently to build programs that meet the academic needs of our students and the employment needs of our state’s businesses and industries,” said Wichita State Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Shirley Lefever. “These kinds of historic increases speak to our institution’s remarkable responsiveness to the needs of our community, and we will continue to be agile and vigilant in our efforts to advance our state’s economic prosperity through education and research. It truly is a great time to be a Shocker!”
About Wichita State University
Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling more than 23,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.
Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.
The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.