DSU spring 2023 enrollment headcount climbs 3.4%

May Hall on the Dickinson State University campus. (Dickinson Press file photo)
May Hall on the Dickinson State University campus. (Dickinson Press file photo)

DICKINSON- Dickinson State University has seen a 3.4% increase in enrollment for the spring semester, reaching a total headcount of 1,391 students. The university attributes this growth to a variety of factors, including the successful launch of new master's programs and a partnership with Dickinson High School to offer college prep curriculum and career certifications. With 62% of students enrolled full-time, the university hopes to continue offering a range of programs and opportunities to meet the diverse needs of students.

Dr. Steve Easton, president of Dickinson State, said he is excited to see a steady growth of students attending the university.

“Whether a student wants to start their educational journey, transfer to finish their last couple of classes, or enroll in workforce training classes, Dickinson State is ready to help them succeed – no matter where they are at in life,” he said.

Early enrollment headcount jumped from 203 to 224 students for a 10.34% growth and the transfer enrollment headcount increased by 12%.

“DSU’s enrollment picture is consistent with emerging trends in higher education across the nation,” John Miller, interim vice president and provost stated.


Currently, at DSU, 62% of students are enrolled full-time, with 38% attending part-time.

According to a National Center for Education Statistics survey, 73% of higher education students fit into the non-traditional category which includes part-time students.

Both Miller and Dr. Heather Gruhlke, the chief communications officer at DSU, credits part of the increase to a growing interest in early entry, dual credit classes and the career academies at Dickinson High School.

DSU has worked with Dickinson High School to launch career academies that provide students with a college prep curriculum, opportunities for career and industry certifications and some classes even offer college credit.

Gruhlke attributed much of the success to the career academies, which she said have really helped students jump-start their academic careers and earn college credit while in high school.

Holly Gruhlke
Holly Gruhlke

DSU has also launched new master's programs in the last few years which may contribute to the spike in numbers Gruhlke said.

DSU currently offers master's degrees that include opportunities in careers like business, education, entrepreneurship, and sports.

The university hopes to add additional master's opportunities like information technology, criminal justice, and educational leadership in the next few years, Gruhlke said.


With DSU being a dual mission institution, the only one in the state, they are able to provide a range of programs from a traditional 4-year degree to professional certifications, to CDL and CNA training.

“The dual mission allows us to have liberal arts options, and career and technical education, and I think that's just a really amazing thing here in southwest North Dakota,” Gruhlke said.

While increasing enrollment helps the university to grow and thrive, it also brings economic advantages as well.

When people attend DSU they are living in Dickinson, shopping in local stores, and working part-time jobs, which is really important to the city, Gruhlke said, noting that once students graduate they are then filling those full-time professional roles within the community.

Gruhlke contributes the variety of options DSU is able to offer partially to community partners and members reaching out with ideas.

“We always welcome conversations with our community partners and our constituents of the community to just come and have conversations with us to see what those needs are and how we can potentially fulfill them,” Gruhlke said.

Allison is a news reporter from Phoenix, Arizona where she earned a degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. After college, she worked as a middle school writing teacher in the valley. She has made her way around the U.S. driving from Arizona to Minnesota and eventually finding herself here in Dickinson. She has a passion for storytelling and enjoys covering community news.
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