The Pack Is On Track: Michigan Tech Enrollment at Levels Not Seen Since Early 1980s

By Rick White

Published

Two's a coincidence, three's a pattern: Another strong group of incoming and returning Huskies makes it three straight years of steady enrollment growth for Michigan Tech.

Four decades have passed since Michigan Tech had this many Huskies heading to class. The numbers tell the story: Demand for a degree from the state's flagship technological university has never been stronger.

Michigan Technological University welcomed 7,320 students to campus this fall, including 1,463 incoming first-year students. The last time Tech enrolled this many students? 1983.

Overall enrollment is up 3.5% from last year, marking the third consecutive year of overall enrollment growth for the University.

Campus and community volunteers welcomed another strong class of incoming first-year Huskies to campus during Move-In Weekend.

"Our faculty and staff work hard to ensure that our graduates are prepared not only with a singular set of skills, but with the ability to reinvent themselves to remain relevant with the changing times," said University President Rick Koubek. "This year's enrollment numbers validate their efforts and reaffirm our commitment to student success."

For the first time in school history, women will make up over 30% of the student body. More than 2,200 women chose Michigan Tech this year, the highest total ever. The number not only reflects the continuation of a decade-long upward enrollment trend for women at the University, but also firmly establishes Michigan Tech as a national leader in educating women for careers in STEM fields.

Other enrollment statistics are similarly encouraging. Including transfer students, this year's incoming first-time undergraduate student class of 1,636 students is the largest since 1991. Of MTU's incoming first-year students, 27% came from outside Michigan — the most in University history — with the largest growth coming from Illinois: an increase of 62%. The retention rate for first-year students rose 2.7 percentage points to 86.6%, a new University record. Domestic students from historically underserved communities now make up 11% of the total student body and 13% of the incoming class, tying the all-time high set in 2020. Additionally, Global Campus enrollment is up nearly 11% over last year, enrollment in the College of Business is up 21%, and graduate student enrollment as a whole is up 4.3% — making this the largest class of graduate students since 2016.

"It's no surprise that our excellent academic programs are driving unprecedented interest from our students at a rate outpacing national trends."Rick Koubek, president, Michigan Tech

Beth Fitzpatrick, Michigan Tech's director of admissions, said the energy on campus is electric, noting the average GPA of 3.83 for this year's incoming class is another University record. "Great students keep finding their way to Michigan Tech, and they consistently tell us they come here for the great education, unique student experience and the beautiful location," she said. "While many other colleges and universities are struggling to attract and retain students, we're getting increased interest from prospective Huskies across the nation, which is allowing us to enroll more academically distinguished and talented students at the measured pace of growth we've planned for."

Data Science, Nursing and a New Residence Hall

Among the new programs offered this year are a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, which Michigan Tech rehomed from Finlandia University after the school graduated its final class in the spring. Another new academic program that's getting attention is the new B.S. in Data Science in the College of Computing, where enrollment is up 14% from last year.

"The world needs professionals who are able to anticipate and respond to emerging challenges using tools and strategies like artificial intelligence, advanced modeling, algorithms, data analysis and data manipulation using statistical software," said Dennis Livesay, dean of the College of Computing. "That growing demand is why we added the new undergraduate degree, as a complement to our M.S. in Data Science. It is also a great example of the types of collaborative efforts that advance an education reflective of what today's industry needs, namely the integration of computing with business."

Michigan Tech plans to break ground on a new residence hall later this fall, which will serve as the eastern gateway to the University and the Copper Country.

As part of Tech's plan to update and expand campus facilities along with enrollment, the University began extensive renovations of existing classroom and laboratory spaces this summer. Later this fall, construction will also begin on a new residence hall that will house over 500 second-year and upper-division students. And building progress continues on the H-STEM Engineering and Health Technology Complex (H-STEM Complex), which is on schedule to open in fall 2024. Like the Great Lakes Research Center before it, and the Center for Convergence and Innovation to come, the H-STEM Complex will be a physical space for facilitating the kinds of transdisciplinary, hands-on and student-led research that are hallmarks of Michigan Tech.

"The H-STEM Complex will be a physical home and hub for health research on campus," said Caryn Heldt, director of the Health Research Institute, professor of chemical engineering, and James and Lorna Mack Endowed Chair of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering. "It will be home to the Health Research Institute and two academic departments — biomedical engineering, kinesiology and integrative physiology — with the intent being to increase collaboration and spark new research ideas by putting people from various disciplines and departments in the same space."

How to Engineer a Great Career

Michigan is a mobility state, and today, with 21st century technologies transforming life everywhere from in our cars to outer space, Michigan Tech's expertise in unstructured environments has never been more relevant. From the permanently shaded regions of the moon to the freshwater test bed of the Keweenaw Waterway and Lake Superior, Tech students and faculty benefit from MTU's unique location, using it as a living laboratory for designing, building and testing everything from solar energy systems for snowy climates to underwater robots and autonomous jet skis for marine research.

Audra Morse, dean of the College of Engineering, said Michigan Tech is perfectly positioned to educate the next generation of problem-solvers needed to tackle the challenges of our time. Powerhouse programs like civil engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering continue to thrive, she said, as does Tech's reputation in engineering specialties like robotics and aerospace. "Employers know that we seek to deliver world-class technological education and leadership to the state of Michigan, the nation and across the globe," Morse said. "As we fulfill our mission, industry can, too. We are stronger together."

"Students and families value the hands-on, industry-relevant learning experiences we provide. When it's time to graduate, our students take the next step in their life journey with confidence, ready to make a positive impact on society and the world around them."Audra Morse, dean, Michigan Tech College of Engineering

Michigan Tech's strong reputation for graduating top-tier, highly skilled professionals able to make an impact in the workforce — and for getting graduates good jobs that pay them back — is only gaining strength. With a placement rate of 93% within six months of graduation, Tech alums find work in their field of study. Those in the Class of 2022 who earned graduate degrees reported an average starting salary of $77,000. Statistics like this are why Tech recently got ranked the 16th best public university in the nation by the Wall Street Journal — and first in Michigan for salary impact.

MTU Director of Career Services Jenna Lane said this year's fall Career Fair — happening the afternoon of Tuesday, Sept. 19, and sponsored by NUCOR — will host the largest number of employers in the history of fall Career Fairs at Tech. "Over 2,000 recruiters from all over the country will be coming to Houghton this month, and even more are on the waiting list hoping to get a spot," Lane said. "Dow, Stellantis, Caterpillar, General Mills, Harley-Davidson, Northern Hardwoods — these are just a handful of well over 400 companies coming to campus in September to recruit. Clearly there is great demand for Michigan Tech students."

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Last Modified 3:21 PM, October 11, 2023