George Mason University

News at Mason

Mason posts strong early enrollment numbers for fall 2019

September 12, 2019   /   by John Hollis

Mason welcomed its largest ever freshman class this fall, including these students who attended orientation in June. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services.

Early enrollment figures for the 2019-20 academic year showing a record freshman class at George Mason University and better-than-expected results with both the ADVANCE and Wiley graduate programs.

David Burge, vice president for enrollment management, noted the positive steps forward despite the continuing overall national decline in high school graduation numbers. He credited Mason’s enrollment gains to the overall strengthening of the university brand. 

“I know that there are more and more people who know who we are,” Burge said.

Overall, total enrollment is up nearly 2% this year to more than 38,000 students, following spikes in both undergraduate and graduate enrollment. The nearly 2% uptick in graduate enrollment marks the fifth consecutive year that Mason has improved in that area. These numbers are preliminary and will be finalized later this fall.

The most notable news in the undergraduate enrollment was the ADVANCE Program. With a goal to reach 300 students by the end of the spring 2020 semester, the program, which aims to streamline the path from Northern Virginia Community College to a four-year degree from Mason, has easily eclipsed expectations by welcoming 353 students this fall alone. The program will have doubled the number of ADVANCE students from a year ago by serving 714 students this fall, according to this week’s figures.

“To me there’s a simplicity to the ADVANCE Program that is very attractive,” he said. “You will have all aspects of it revealed to you the moment you register. You will be given an assigned coach to help you through the process, and you will have complete confidence in course selection. It puts the student in a position where he, she or they can focus on the important things, which are succeeding.”

Because they were already considered nondegree seeking students at Mason, ADVANCE students coming to Mason from NOVA are not officially considered transfer students, helping to account for Mason’s slight dip in transfer students this year.

Mason’s partnership with Wiley & Sons, which helps make more degrees available online to students balancing professional and family commitments, sparked Mason’s 1.6% overall increase in new graduate student enrollment. The program was expecting to enroll 237 new students this fall, but already lists 285 as of the most recent count, much to the delight of Michelle Marks, Mason’s vice president for innovation and new ventures.

“The demand for our online graduate programs continues to be high,” she said. “We beat enrollment expectations again this fall, even with some of our newly launched programs. As more working professionals are choosing to do their education online, it’s increasingly important for Mason to offer high-quality online programs.”

Mason saw an increase of 1.9% in undergraduate enrollment this year, going from last year’s 26,583 to the current 27,094. The overall graduate student population also grew over the last year, climbing to 10,577 from 10,411.

“The plans the university has put in place to think critically about sustainable growth are working so far,” Burge said.