The university recorded its highest total enrollment for the spring semester in more than a decade. The official count for Spring 2010 came to 3,586 undergraduate students and 934 graduate students, including 464 online, for a final total of 4,984 students, compared to 4,622 in Spring 2009.
“We are preparing for a day when we decide our undergrad enrollment is as big as want in order to provide the experience we want,” said Buck James, associate vice president for enrollment. “For the first time ACU will stop accepting applications because we have so much interest.”
Dr. Carol Williams, associate provost for distance education and service, said the number of people taking graduate courses through ACU Online has risen every year since 2006.
Colleges across the country experienced a 17 percent increase in online enrollment this semester, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, compared to a 1.2 percent increase in overall student population.
“We have gone from 66 in Fall 2006 to 464 in Spring 2010,” Williams said. “We’re offering more degrees; our marketing is getting traction. Right now people want an edge in their professional life, and a lot of them are looking for graduate school online.”
ACU offers online master’s degrees and certification in such areas as education, conflict resolution and organizational and human resource development. Eleven students enrolled in the superintendent certification program last month, ACU’s latest online course.
Williams attributes consistent growth to the professionally tailored courses and high academic standards.
“We’ve got students in all parts of the United States; we’re way beyond Texas,” she said. “The first week in January we had students in residency from Minnesota, California, Georgia and Slovenia.”
Undergraduate enrollment may not have spiked this semester, but James said the university looks at undergraduate numbers in the context of the university as a whole.
“A lot of people don’t realize it’s not uncommon for a graduate population to be significantly larger than the undergrad population,” James said. “We’ve got a lot of good momentum going into the next several years.”