May 13, 2021

Purdue to welcome largest-ever incoming class this fall

Note to journalists: Journalists visiting campus should follow visitor health guidelines.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The demand for a Purdue University education remains higher than ever as the university expects to welcome, for the second year in a row, its largest-ever incoming class for the fall of 2021.

More than 10,000 freshmen, which would be the largest incoming freshman class in any Big Ten school since at least 2005, are expected to arrive on campus for in-person learning this fall, with increases of both Indiana and out-of-state residents. This exceeds the fall 2020 incoming class by nearly 1,200 students and is the fourth time in the past five years that Purdue has seen a record freshman class.

“We’ve become accustomed to rising demand for a Purdue education, but this latest surge surpassed all our projections,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “It imposes a great responsibility on us to maintain and enhance the quality and value that is attracting these record classes. Fortunately, we’ve had lots of experience doing that.”

With more than 58,500 applications, the most in Purdue history, the expected record enrollment includes an increase in the number of Indiana residents choosing Purdue from 4,418 to 4,647, the biggest increase since 2007. The incoming class also includes a surge in the number of out-of-state residents from 3,643 to 4,643.  In addition, Purdue expects at least 786 international students. The projected number of incoming students is based on the number of students who have accepted admission offers and paid their deposit, less an estimate of the number who will change their minds during the summer months.

Campus leaders say the size of the incoming freshman class reflects in part the success of the Protect Purdue Plan and the investment in safeguarding the student experience over the last year and in the future. 

“National surveys tell us that a college’s response to COVID-19 greatly influences a student’s likelihood to enroll,” said Kris Wong Davis, vice provost for enrollment management. “While many schools were not able to open last fall, we were determined to safely welcome back our students after they told us in overwhelming numbers that they hoped we would.”

A reputation for excellence and attention to affordability and accessibility also continue to help drive interest in Purdue.

Purdue is the fifth-most innovative school in the country in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings and ranks among the nation’s top 10 colleges of engineering and agriculture. Purdue has been No. 1 for 10 straight years in agricultural and biological engineering; its hospitality and tourism management program is ranked No. 1 at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels by the Journal of Hospitality Education; and its speech-language pathology program is No. 3.

Purdue ranks No. 3 nationally, behind only Stanford and MIT, in producing new companies based on university-created innovations.

Purdue was recently ranked as the No. 9 public university in the U.S. by The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education, as well as No. 8 for the most employable graduates in the U.S. among public universities and No. 5 in the U.S. for student engagement.

In other recent rankings, Purdue was No. 4 on CNBC’s 2020 list of the top public U.S. colleges that pay off the most. Purdue has consistently ranked among the safest college campuses by various safety and security organizations over the last several years and was most recently ranked the third-safest college town in the country by Safety.com.

There also is a demand for Purdue graduates, as 95% of students have successful outcomes as reported by Purdue’s Center for Career Opportunities.

“It is clear that Purdue continues to be a place of choice for both in-state and out-of-state students,” said Jay Akridge, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity. “It’s our goal as a campus community to provide an innovative and impactful residential learning experience – higher education at the highest proven value – that continues to drive strong demand for a Purdue degree.”

Work is underway to expand academic resources for next year: Searches are in process for 151 tenure-track and clinical faculty to begin in the fall, 37 of which are new investments due to enrollment growth; searches are underway for additional student support staff; space formerly used for offices and other purposes is being reallocated and converted to create additional classrooms; and additional housing through contracts with local providers is on target to meet the fall demand.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://purdue.edu/

Writer, media contact: Abbey Nickel, nickela@purdue.edu

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