Elizabeth City State University has experienced the highest enrollment since the fall 2014 semester when ECSU had 1,867 students. According to the fall 2020 enrollment census, released Monday, Aug. 24, total enrollment is 2,002, a 13.2 percent increase over fall 2019’s 1,773 students.

The recruitment of a freshman class with a strong academic profile, the return of continuing students, and the recruitment of graduate and transfer students are major factors accounting for the enrollment increase. This is also the third fall semester to offer the NC Promise Tuition program, offering in-state and out-of-state students affordable tuition.

“Thanks to NC Promise, ECSU is the most affordable public institution in North Carolina, offering a quality education at an affordable price,” Chancellor Karrie G. Dixon said. “Despite these unprecedented times, and the challenges we face during the COVID-19 pandemic, ECSU is strong. I am excited to see the growing enthusiasm for this university, and I am grateful for the hard work of our faculty and staff.”

ECSU’s retention rate has increased significantly since 2019. At 75.6 percent, it is the highest rate since 2012, growing by 5 percent over 2019. The efforts of University Studies along with the outreach of student affairs including their work with student success programs such as Champion Scholars and Sister2Sister are key contributors to the growth in retention.

Over the last two years, ECSU has been intentional about strengthening relationships with its community college partners through the establishment of co-admission and articulation agreements. As a result of these efforts, transfer student enrollment has also seen a big increase with 202 students enrolling in programs at ECSU, a 27.8 percent increase over 2019. Graduate student enrollment experienced a 19.5 percent increase over fall 2019. 

ECSU’s provost, Dr. Farrah Ward, praised university efforts to build enrollment. Student retention programs, increased enrollment goals and strong enrollment management efforts have contributed to the growth at ECSU, she said. 

“The university’s enrollment growth is, in part, thanks to our team approach for strategic enrollment,” said Provost Ward. “The enrollment strategy team consists of representatives from various departments including admissions, financial aid, student accounts, registrar, university studies, distance education, graduate education, academic affairs, housing and residence life, student affairs, business and finance, auxiliary services, communications and marketing, and information technology.”

The strategic implementation of programs designed to increase the retention and persistence of students has played a significant role in ECSU’s continued growth, she said. Over the course of the last three years, recruitment of new and transfer students, process improvements, and a customer-friendly staff have made a big impact on enrollment.

“This is a testament to the work of our faculty and staff who recruit quality students, develop academic programs that are in demand, and provide quality instruction,” said Provost Ward.

Programs that have seen significant increase of at least 25 percent enrollment include Aviation Science, Digital Media Arts, Graphic Design, and the newest online degree programs in Homeland Security and Elementary Education (Masters). The top three majors by enrollment are Business Administration, Criminal Justice, and Biology.