VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota saw record growth in incoming international students as well as an increase in graduate, law and medical student headcount, while total enrollment was generally flat compared to last year.
The university expected relatively stable enrollment this year due to the ongoing global pandemic, said USD President Sheila K. Gestring.
Total headcount at the university is up slightly, with a small dip in credit hours. USD saw growth in new student enrollment from Iowa (6.5%) and Minnesota (28.8%) while seeing declines in Nebraska and South Dakota. USD’s enrollment of first-time, full-time, on-campus freshmen was generally flat, with a slight increase over last year. USD also witnessed great success in high school dual credit enrollment, with an increase of 24.8% over last year.
USD’s international student enrollment continues to grow at a rapid pace. This year, the university saw the largest incoming class of international students in university history, said Scott Pohlson, vice president of enrollment, marketing and university relations.
USD enrolled 109 incoming international students, surpassing the previous record of 89 in 2015. The new incoming class includes 58 international graduate students – a record number that exceeds the previous 2015 record by 19. Total international enrollment is at 248 students, which matches USD’s highest-ever international enrollment set in 2018. Fifty countries outside of the United States are now represented at USD.
“We are thrilled with the increased interest that our team in the International Office was able to secure this year,” Pohlson said. “Our efforts are a direct result of the relationships that our team has worked hard to develop in targeted markets, despite the challenges of recruiting during a global pandemic.”
At the USD Community College for Sioux Falls (CCSF), USD saw a significant increase (61.5%) in the Associate of Arts in General Studies program for first-time, full-time undergraduate students, the highest headcount for this program since USD became the facility’s lead institution. The two-year general studies degree is a signature program at CCSF, allowing students to start their education with a flexible two-year program that leads into any bachelor’s program or prepares them for the workforce.
USD also saw substantial and promising growth in areas like biomedical engineering and computer science, which both saw at least 20% growth in section enrollments over last year. These programs provide critical support to the workforce needs of South Dakota and are well-positioned to continue that service to the state, Gestring said.
“Especially when taken in the context of national enrollment trends, the status of enrollment at USD is encouraging,” Gestring said. “We continue to offer the high-quality educational experience that USD is known for, as indicated by our recent ranking in U.S. News & World Report for being the best public university in both South Dakota and North Dakota. We have welcomed a great class of new students into our Coyote community, and we look forward to helping them grow into tomorrow’s leaders.”