Fall enrollment numbers at Missouri Southern point to another positive year, according to data recorded on the university’s annual Census Day and provided by MSSU’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

While overall headcount remained relatively flat (6,174 students compared to 6,231 last fall), Fall 2017 is the second largest total enrollment in the university’s history. At 1,012 students, this fall’s freshman class is the third largest in the university’s history.

One of the largest areas of growth for the university was among out-of-state students – MSSU was up 4 percent from 1,176 students last fall to 1,216 this year. The university’s Lion Pride Tuition program, which provides the in-state tuition rate to students from every state bordering Missouri as well as Texas, has continued to attract new students.

“We are seeing more and more students from states like Arkansas and Illinois,” said Derek Skaggs, dean of Admissions. “Our recruitment efforts, combined with an attractive tuition package, are paying off in targeted areas.”

At $183.37 per credit hour, Missouri Southern remains the lowest cost-per-credit-hour university in the state, as well as the Four State Area.

While the university recorded enrollment growth in many of its academic programs – notably Biology and Environmental Health, as well as Education and the Health Sciences areas – its position as the medical education leader in the region is reflected in the enrollment numbers.

“There’s no doubt that our newly renovated science facilities and the development of one-of-a-kind programs like the Yours to Lose Advanced Medical School Acceptance Program are attracting students from far beyond the Joplin area,” said Skaggs. “We are seeing a continuation of an enrollment climb in the health sciences, biology and pre-professional medical areas.”

That growth should continue next semester, as the Nursing program, which was just named the Most Affordable Nursing Program in the state by CollegeChoice.net, expands its 60-student cohort to 90 students beginning in January.

“We’ve seen the need for more allied health professionals for a long time in the medical industry,” said Dr. Rick Schooler, dean of the School of Health Sciences, also noting that the Dental Hygiene program at MSSU was just named as one of the Top 50 Dental Hygienist Schools in the nation by TheBestColleges.org. “I am really pleased we’ve been able to take the necessary steps to grow our programs. We are definitely seeing the applicants respond.”

In general education enrollment, Missouri Southern also saw a 10 percent increase in distance learning students, pointing to a growing trend of learners who prefer the convenience of online courses.

Another area of strength is in the quality of students the university is attracting. Admission test scores and the GPAs of students seeking acceptance into MSSU have shown an increase (72 percent of admitted students have earned a 3.0 GPA or higher), and the number of students taking college courses while still in high school – known as “dual credit” students – rose by more than 3 percent.

“We are seeing some very positive indicators that high-achieving students are drawn to our programs, which are successfully preparing our graduates and meeting workforce demand,” said MSSU President Alan Marble. “We have a very strong formula that brings together valuable academic programs, competitive tuition rates, and campus experiences that enrich the lives of our students and alumni. I’m very proud of the extraordinary efforts of our faculty and staff to make Missouri Southern the first choice for our students.”