KU Edwards Campus Spring Enrollment Grows 5.3 Percent, Strong Rise in STEM Programs

According to official Spring 2019 enrollment data, student credit hours for KU Edwards Campus-administered programs are up 5.3 percent compared to Spring 2018 with large increases in STEM and online programs.

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Enrollment continues to climb at the KU Edwards Campus (KUEC). Nearly 2,000 students enrolled in a total of 12,531 credit hours in programs administered by KUEC for the Spring 2019 semester, making it the highest spring enrollment at KUEC in eight years. This is a 5.3 percent increase from Spring 2018, which was up 10.4 percent from the year before.

“The Edwards Campus, KU, students and local employers are seeing the benefits of our strategy, identifying areas of study that align to both student interests and the needs of the local economy and community,” said David Cook, vice chancellor of KUEC. “We offer educational programs that are accessible and convenient for working adult students, whether they are coming back to college or transferring from a community college. Our continued growth is exciting and is  a sign that our strategy is working for all our stakeholders.”

These stakeholders include current and prospective students, alumni and the local business community. The last of which KU Chancellor Douglas A. Girod’s addressed in his recent commentary in the Kansas City Star and KCUR, highlighting the intense demand for highly trained professionals in the area and the role of KUEC as well as the Johnson County Education Research Triangle (JCERT) in developing the local workforce.

STEM-related programs saw significant growth in Spring 2019 compared to Spring 2018, as well as programs supported by JCERT, which increased student credit hours by 26 percent year over year. The bachelor’s degree in biotechnology is up 109.3 percent; the graduate degree and certificates in civil engineering, 34.6 percent; the graduate degree and certificate in environmental assessment, 28.2 percent; and the graduate certificate in cybersecurity, 15.8 percent.

“We hear from students and local employers, as well as workforce reports, that STEM education programs and professionals are in great demand,” said Mark Jakubauskas, director of science and health programs. “Over the last several years, we’ve added to our STEM degrees and certificates, especially with the support of JCERT. Whether students want to enter the fields of health care, technology, engineering, environmental sciences or others, we have degrees and certificates to help them launch or advance their career. Local employers tell us they are grateful for the – talent that these programs create, and we see them eagerly engaging our students and graduates.”

Students enrolled in more online programs this semester, with a nearly 62 percent increase in online student credit hours year over year. Popular online programs include project management graduate degree and certificate programs, which are up 152 percent; applied behavioral science graduate degree and certificate programs, up by 75 percent; and the applied statistics and analytics graduate degree and certificate, which jumped 58.4 percent.

While these new degrees proved to be in high demand, KUEC’s longstanding programs continue to draw increased enrollment including the master’s in integrated marketing communications, up 27.2 percent year over year; the bachelor’s in molecular biosciences, up 11.5 percent; and the master’s in engineering management, up 8.1 percent.

As KUEC caters to the working professional, it is a destination for transfer students and those looking to complete their degree. Some of the degree-completion programs with the strongest growth this spring are the bachelor’s in law and society, up 44.4 percent from last year; the bachelor’s in psychology, up 35.8 percent and the bachelor’s in information technology, which increased nearly 4 percent.

“Students choose the Edwards Campus for high-quality education that's accessible and affordable,” said Shannon Portillo, assistant vice chancellor for undergraduate programs. “More students are transferring to the Edwards Campus from local community colleges or returning to the Edwards Campus to finish their undergraduate degrees. Working with our great partners including JCCC, MCC, KCKCC and local PK-12 school districts, we continue to enhance the education pathways to a KU degree at the Edwards Campus, making a bachelor’s degree more affordable, convenient and accessible.”

With a new strategic plan in place, the KU Edwards Campus will continue to raise the bar in serving Kansas City’s diverse workforce, economic and community needs with high-quality education programs.

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