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students walking to class on the first day of school at Oklahoma State University.

OSU celebrates enrollment records as fall semester begins

Monday, August 21, 2023

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |

Oklahoma State University set a new record for highest undergraduate enrollment in school history as it welcomed students to campus Monday.

With 21,219 undergraduate students enrolled for the fall semester, a record-setting first-time freshman class (4,686 students) and highest ever enrollment on the Stillwater campus (25,174), the university continues to show positive enrollment trends. With total OSU System enrollment eclipsing 34,000 students, OSU remains the largest university system in the state.

OSU President Kayse Shrum said she’s excited for the start of the semester and the opportunity to continue to serve students’ needs as OSU continues its push to become the nation’s preeminent land-grant university. 

“These enrollment trends reflect the transformative work happening at Oklahoma State University,” Dr. Shrum said. “Last October, we unveiled a strategy to reshape higher education with a student-focused approach, and we’re doing just that. Not raising tuition and mandatory fees for the second straight year is indicative of this effort. 

“We’re providing access for countless students, bolstering workforce development and serving the needs of our state by equipping students with the skills they need to be career ready when they walk across the stage at graduation and empowering them to tackle society’s greatest challenges.” 

OSU also set a new record for non-resident enrollment 7,417— up 2.9% from the previous record set in 2022. Retention rates continue to rise as well, with OSU posting percentage gains in seven of the last eight years. 

Additionally, Oklahoma’s land-grant university set new enrollment records for:

  • Honors College — 3,284  (9.4% increase)
  • New graduate students — 1,208 (9% increase)
  • Spears School of Business — 6,110 (6% increase)
  • Native American students — 3,330 (4% increase)
  • First-generation students — 5,087 (1.7% increase)
  • Online — 2,248 (21.8% increase)

Other notable enrollment highlights include increases in the number of new Oklahoma Promise students — up 15% over last year — and the College of Education and Human Sciences (4,297 — 4.3% increase), which this semester welcomes its first cohort of students in the newly launched nursing program

The OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, which saw its North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) passage rate jump from 92 to 96% this year — a figure that puts OSU 10 percentage points higher than the national average — continues to see transformational growth. Following the creation of the Oklahoma State University Veterinary Medicine Authority in the spring, the college will have its largest class in history this fall (109 students).

Vice President for Enrollment Management Karen Chen said these positive enrollment figures highlight OSU’s academic quality, its visionary strategic plan and its commitment to students. 

“From the new nursing program, which is striving to better meet the health care needs of our state, to our surging business, honors and graduate college enrollment, we are empowering OSU graduates and our state to thrive as we position OSU as a truly modern land-grant university,” Chen said. 

“We have students from all 77 counties in Oklahoma, 50 states and 128 different countries. Our enrollment remains strong, and students and parents are choosing OSU because they know they’ll get a world-class education with the kind of support and care that they would expect at home. At OSU, students matter, and they feel the energy and loyalty of the Cowboy family here, whether they’re visiting campus for the first time or returning home.”

Candice Hillenbrand, mother of incoming freshman Noel Hillenbrand, said her daughter certainly felt the spirit of the Cowboy family while they were exploring college options. Of the six universities her daughter toured, she said OSU was the perfect fit. 

“I’ve been thrilled with the welcoming vibe at OSU. The timely and transparent communication with both parents and students has been great. We didn’t feel like we were being recruited, we felt like we were being welcomed,” Candice Hillenbrand said. “Noel immediately loved the vibe of the campus, all the student activities available to her, and she loved that it was large but not so large that she would be swallowed up by it.”

The welcoming atmosphere on campus wasn’t the only pleasant surprise for Hillenbrand. 

“The transparency in the financial aid and the fees was a breath of fresh air. Very different from when I was in college,” she said. “The ability for Noel to take as many classes as she would like and still have the same rate is wonderful. My goal, as her mom, is for her to get through college with as little debt as possible, and the scholarships at OSU and the flat rate really won me over.”

While the Hillenbrands are new and welcome additions to the Cowboy family, incoming freshman Jackson Parrish’s family is steeped in Cowboy tradition. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather all attended OSU. For Parrish, the choice was always clear. 

“I grew up knowing I was going to come here since I was 5,” Parrish said. “With everybody that came before me in my family, I’ve always just loved Oklahoma State.” 

His father, Murray Parrish, was thrilled.

“I was hoping this is where he would end up,” Murray said. “Of course, we wanted him to go wherever he wanted to go, but we’re so happy he chose Oklahoma State.” 

Jackson said he had high expectations as he came to campus and hasn’t been disappointed. His mother, Bobbie Parrish, said the entire process — from admissions to enrollment and advising — has been accessible, responsive and well organized. 

Summer Priest, mother of incoming freshman Hannah Priest, said she has had a similar experience. Like Jackson, Hannah always had OSU at the top of her list. 

“Our experience with OSU has been phenomenal,” Summer Priest said. “We moved her into her dorm [Thursday]. This is an emotional time for both parents and students. To be honest, we expected chaos, but we experienced quite the opposite. We moved in with ease. The dorm was in wonderful condition, and we were pleasantly surprised with the entire process.” 

While she said there may be challenges, she appreciates OSU’s efforts to avoid raising tuition and fees, its flat-rate tuition structure and scholarship offerings. As an educator, she said she appreciates OSU’s commitment to higher education and its impact in the state of Oklahoma. 

“Hannah is following my footsteps and pursuing a degree in elementary education,” she said. “OSU’s College of Education is top-notch in a state that is hurting for highly qualified teachers.”

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