UNC Charlotte sets enrollment record with more than 30,000 students

North Carolina’s urban research university is now the second-largest institution in the UNC System
Monday, September 21, 2020

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is larger and more diverse than ever, according to enrollment figures announced today. The University welcomed approximately 4,000 new first-year students, 2,600 transfer students and 2,400 new graduate students this fall, pushing total enrollment over 30,000 for the first time in UNC Charlotte’s nearly 75-year history. 

“We are now the second-largest institution in the UNC System with 30,146 enrolled students,” announced Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. “This record-breaking enrollment is a testament to UNC Charlotte’s long-standing focus on affordability, accessibility and opportunity for deserving students. Chosen for its high academic achievement, the freshman class brings an average weighted GPA of 3.9. In fact, a greater percentage of all new undergraduates earned institutional merit-based and external scholarships compared to last year’s incoming students.”

The newest undergraduate Niners, selected from more than 26,000 freshman and transfer applications, represent 91 of 100 North Carolina counties, 49 states and 25 countries. More than 2,100 are first-generation college students.  

“Niner Nation continues to grow not only in numbers but also in terms of opportunity, diversity and outcomes,” said Joan Lorden, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Our outstanding faculty, academic programs, research capabilities and incredible campus experience make UNC Charlotte the first choice for many students from across the state, region and country.” 

Enrollment highlights include:

  • Of the nearly 6,600 new undergraduates, more than 6,200 are from North Carolina.
  • This year’s freshman class is the largest in University history, 10% larger than that of 2019.
  • Enrollment among Black/African American freshmen grew by 30% over last year. 
  • Students who identify with more than one race or ethnicity jumped by 19% since last year. 
  • Hispanic freshman enrollment is up 43% since last year.
  • Nearly 33% of the incoming class are first-generation college students.
  • The average weighted GPA of the 4,000 new freshmen is 3.9.
  • A greater percentage of new undergraduates received institutional merit-based scholarships for fall 2020, and more students also earned external scholarships when compared to last year. Honors College enrollment increased by 6%.
  • Incoming freshmen in STEM majors represent 34% of the class.
  • Total graduate student enrollment is nearly 6,000, the highest number in UNC Charlotte history.
  • Significant graduate school growth is attributed to in-state students with 712 more enrolling than fall 2019.
  • Noteworthy graduate enrollment increases include the MBA program and the Graduate Certificate in Teaching.

The University attributes the enrollment boost in part to its quick implementation of both live and pre-recorded virtual admissions events and individual attention to students’ needs. The admissions staff reached out via text, phone and email to admitted students to make sure they had all the information they needed to register for summer orientation, enroll in fall courses and join the UNC Charlotte community.   

“The significance of the role our students, faculty and staff in recalibrating our enrollment efforts as a result of the coronavirus cannot be overstated,” said Claire Kirby, director of undergraduate admissions. “Individuals from all areas of campus life helped us to meet prospective new students where they are in this new virtual environment, leading eventually to today’s celebratory milestone.”

After COVID-19 restricted on-campus visitors, the University undergraduate admissions office transitioned its campus visit options to one-on-one Zoom sessions with admissions counselors, professors and current students. Faculty and staff recorded nearly 70 presentations on their respective departments and programs as a substitute for the canceled Spring Open House events. Also, campus tour guides created informal videos around campus and posted them on UNC Charlotte social media, garnering more than 8,000 views, while other students served as social media and digital ambassadors for the University, writing blogs and testimonials for admissions collateral and website content.