UM Enrollment Numbers Hold Steady Amidst Pandemic

UM worked to boost the student experience during the pandemic with a new outdoor skating rink on the Oval.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana today announced spring 2021 semester enrollment held steady at the state’s flagship university – a triumph amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“UM has transformed nearly every aspect of campus to best serve our students during the pandemic,” UM President Seth Bodnar said. “I am deeply grateful for the way our faculty and staff have risen to face the historic challenges of COVID-19 and have maintained a tireless commitment to our students’ success.”

Throughout the pandemic, UM has prioritized maintaining high-quality classroom instruction while providing students flexibility to continue their education in the manner they choose.

UM’s fall semester-to-spring semester retention rate is 88%, a significant achievement that University leaders credit in part to the hard work of faculty and staff members in maintaining much of the on-campus, vibrant atmosphere that UM is known for.

After graduating more than 800 students at the conclusion of the fall 2020 semester, UM welcomed 575 new first-time students to campus this spring. In total, there are now 9,500 students enrolled at UM.

 “Whether it is maintaining safe, in-person classes, increasing remote offerings, bolstering student-focused advising or reimagining the student experience, UM continues to provide students with an educational experience that is academically rigorous and personally engaging,” Bodnar said. “Most of all, we are confident that every student who has graduated during the pandemic is prepared to succeed, no matter their chosen career.”

 “There is no doubt that COVID-19 has impacted the student experience,” said Sarah Swager, UM vice provost for student success. “But we have worked with students to reimagine that UM energy and excitement in the COVID-era. As a result, students are able to ice skate in between classes, sit around fire pits to catch up with friends, attend exclusive movie nights and participate in a variety of activities that are sponsored by campus clubs, organizations and other groups.”

UM’s renewed student recruitment and retention strategy is bearing fruit during the pandemic, in which the number of 2020 high school graduates enrolling in college nationwide is down 21.7% compared with a year ago.

More information about UM’s 2021 spring census is available at


Contact: Dave Kuntz, UM director of strategic communications, 406-899-5998,