GRAND FORKS — Despite an ongoing pandemic, four North Dakota colleges have seen a rise in enrollment this fall.

The University of North Dakota’s fall enrollment is 13,615, according to data from the North Dakota University System. That’s up around .25% over last year, when enrollment was 13,581.

UND led the state in enrollment numbers this fall, beating North Dakota State by a wide margin. NDSU’s enrollment was 12,846, according to the university system, which is down from 13,173 last year.

Dakota College at Bottineau, Dickinson State University and Valley City State University also had increased enrollments this year.

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Overall enrollment for the system was down about 2% over last fall.

The North Dakota University total enrollment is 44,001. Last year’s census total was 44,938.

NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott said he is very happy about the system’s numbers this year as it is dealing with the pandemic and economic fallout it caused.

“Considering what we were potentially facing, it’s a huge vote of confidence by parents and students that many, many of them obviously came back,” he said. “Given we've gone through a pandemic and a massive recession ... people should be quite, quite happy with those outcomes.”

Hagerott said it’s difficult to point to one thing that drove enrollment numbers to better than expected, but noted that the schools and the State Board of Higher Education did the legwork this summer that may have helped stabilize enrollment.

The state board committed back at the end of April that students would be back on campus this fall. The schools, faculty and staff put in the work this summer to make that possible, Hagerott said.

He also credited students for being mature and flexible as the system shifted to online learning in the spring when campuses were shut down.

“The other thing that could have happened that didn't is there could have been outbreaks, and (the students) were packing up and going home, but the campuses were resilient,” Hagerott said.

The state board asking schools to require masks on campus also may have had an influence on students coming back to campus, he said.

“In our case, a bunch of things came together that most likely the effect was stabilizing enrollment in almost all the colleges, but even improving itself, which is a real tribute to them,” he said.

Other enrollment numbers

  • Dakota College’s enrollment is 1,060 compared to 1,006 last year.
  • Dickinson State is reporting a headcount of 1,441, which is a 6.5% jump over fall 2019 when enrollment was 1,350.
  • Valley City State has an enrollment of 1,676, a 0.65% increase compared to the previous year when enrollment was 1,665.
  • Bismarck State’s enrollment is 3,716 this fall. That’s down just slightly compared to last year when enrollment was 3,739.

  • Lake Region State College reported an enrollment of 1,771 this year. Last year enrollment was 1,982 at the Devils Lake school.
  • North Dakota State College of Science has an enrollment of 2,829 students this fall, a decrease compared to last year when enrollment was 2,977.
  • Williston State College also saw a drop in enrollment this year with 959 students reported in the university system’s headcount. Last year, the state’s most northwest school had an enrollment of 1,132.
  • Mayville State reported an enrollment of 1,168 students this fall, which is down over last year when enrollment was 1,212.
  • Minot State reported that there are 2,920 students enrolled this fall, which is a 6.6% drop over last year when enrollment was tallied at 3,121.