Middle Tennessee State University reported the largest year-over-year gains in enrollment this fall among the state’s locally governed higher education institutions, the school’s Board of Trustees were told last week.

MTSU, which saw a 1.7 percent increase, remains the largest undergraduate institution among the locally governed institutions, which include Austin Peay, East Tennessee State, University of Memphis, Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State.

MTSU reported its Fall 2020 head count at 22,084, an increase of 369 students compared its numbers from Fall 2019. Its 19,192 undergraduate enrollment, while down 1.35 percent over last year, still places it tops among the LGIs, said Debra Sells, vice president for student affairs and vice provost for enrollment services. The freshman class of 3,075 was MTSU’s second-largest since Fall 2013.

The ACT average for the Fall 2020 freshman class was 23.23, which is above both the national average (20.7) and state average (19.4). The average high school GPA for entering freshmen was 3.59, above last year’s 3.54 mark.

MTSU’s surge, coming as it adapted its operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was fueled by an almost 28 percent growth in its College of Graduate Studies and record retention efforts of currently enrolled undergraduates.

“Our growth during these challenging times was not an accident — it came from deliberate, focused and relentless work by our faculty and staff during a global crisis,” MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee told the board.

U.S. News and World Report recently ranked MTSU as the top public school in Tennessee, and No. 80 nationally, in social mobility for its track record of success in helping “economically disadvantaged students” graduate.

For the second consecutive year, MTSU was the only locally governed institution to be included in Princeton Review’s national Best College list, an honor given to only 13 percent of the nation’s higher education entities.

And MTSU was the state’s top public university ranked by Forbes Magazine among America’s Best In-State Employers, placing No. 27 among all Tennessee workplaces.

The board also approved two new academic degree programs — Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy and Master of Arts in Art Therapy — that will be offered through existing resources in the College of Liberal Arts.

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