Enrollment: UM Welcomes Largest First-Year Class to Campus in Six Years

The University of Montana has its largest first-year class in six years.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana welcomed more than 1,351 first-year students to campus this fall, marking the largest incoming class at the state’s flagship university in six years.

In addition to this 6% increase over 2021, there are an additional 74 first-year students that came to UM with some college credit. The number of first-year students on campus this fall is 1,425.

This is the second consecutive year of sizable growth among the incoming class at UM, putting the University on a strong growth path in the years ahead. With 8,094 in total, there are more students enrolled at the UM main campus than last year.

“UM continues to show a strong enrollment trajectory,” said UM President Seth Bodnar. “With the number of first-year students increasing, the improved retention rate among our students since 2018 and continued growth on our main campus, UM is now firmly in a cycle of growth.”

In addition to incoming student headcount growth, UM also has grown exponentially in the number of students it serves through employer partnerships that aren’t reflected in the traditional census headcount.

Since launching in 2021, UM’s AccelerateMT has enrolled more than 758 students in Missoula College and short-term academic programs across the state that are taught in conjunction with local businesses to meet the emerging needs of Montana’s growing economy.  AccelerateMT is embedded at UM and serves as the economic and workforce development partner for employers across the state.    

“AccelerateMT’s proven track record of providing rapid training to meet key workforce needs made it an ideal partner as we seek to strengthen Montana’s pipeline of skilled workers,” said Laurie Esau, commissioner of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry. “The success we see today will help ensure a robust Montana workforce for years to come.”

With the large number of students at UM this fall, the University’s fall tuition revenue is nearly $40 million, 12.4% higher than the same period in 2021.

“UM is on sound financial footing,” said Paul Lasiter, UM’s vice president for operations and finance. “We are well positioned to continue making critical investments in our students and our campus infrastructure for years to come.”

UM reported a total student headcount of 9,955 for the fall 2022 census. Within the headcount, there is a graduate professional program that has seen a significant decrease over the past year – including a 143-student reduction in the Physical Therapy partnership program with Rehab Essentials. Since 2008, UM has partnered with Rehab Essentials to provide a “bridge” program for physical therapists across the world who seek mid-career graduate degrees. 

“Now in its twelfth year, the clinical doctorate degree academic partnership program is one of the most successful in the country, with nearly 2,000 graduates who are now UM alumni,” said Reed Humphrey, dean of the UM College of Health. “As the pool of physical therapists wishing to bridge to a doctoral degree naturally declines, the number of enrolled students in this program was expected to decrease. Through the same academic partnership, UM is expanding its international reach and also launched this fall a similar bridge curriculum for occupational therapists. This expansion is expected to grow enrollment in the years ahead.”

Missoula College reports a total student headcount 1,215, a 2% decrease from 2021. UM’s two-year affiliate still maintains a 3% increase in its total student population from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Overall, the student retention rate held steady at 74% This figure measures the rate that students persist between their first and second year at UM. Since Bodnar started as president in 2018, the student retention rate at UM has risen 6%.

Other highlights from the fall 2022 enrollment census at the UM main campus include:

  • 710 first-year Montana students, an 8.4% increase over 2021.
  • 610 Native American students, a 2.2% increase over 2021. This growth builds on the 23% Native American student growth at UM from 2018 to 2021.
  • 279 student veterans, a 6.5% increase over 2021.
  • 250 law school students, a 1.6% increase over 2021.
  • 192 early admit and dual-enrollment students, a 35% increase over 2021.

UM’s fall 2022 census report is available online.


Contact: Dave Kuntz, director of strategic communication, 406-243-5659, dave.kuntz@umontana.edu.