category: Campus News

Graduate programs spark Carson-Newman University’s record enrollment

by Mark Brown, courtesy of The Standard Banner

(Sept. 2020) — James Pugh is grateful that online searches for an advanced business degree kept noting what he said is Carson-Newman University’s “best rankings among the MBA programs of the caliber” he wanted.

Having previously earned an M.S. in Information Technology gave him some sense of the rigor expected for graduate study. However, the transition from technological education to intensive business study “was a little overwhelming at first.”

Being one-quarter into what is C-N’s 10-course MBA degree work finds him pleased with making the right decision.

I would say the full-on appreciation came with this last semester because the professors at this level push you to do your best,” said the 34-year-old Nashville resident. “They expect you to be able to analyze something and produce it in a deliverable and professional way.”

The confirmation came with solid critiques from professors that he says have made him a better writer, even while providing opportunities to employ strategic thinking that he uses as a software development supervisor for United Parcel Service.

While he is pleased that C-N’s $16,000 MBA price tag is a third of the cost at Lipscomb University, from which he is a double-alumnus, he said the proof of the value is in the “quality of education” he is receiving.

“Communication is one of the main things I do in my current role. I strive for good communication with my team members and anyone I come into contact with. If we do not have effective communication and turnaround times on getting people the information they need, then we are setting them and ourselves up for failure.”

To that end, he is doubly grateful to report that he has heard back from his C-N professors within 12 hours to less than a day. “It usually has never gone beyond a 24-hour turnaround time. I really appreciate that.”

Pugh is one of C-N’s 1,189 current graduate students, a 34 percent jump from last year’s 885. Enrollment in the MBA program has risen some 17 percent, from 138 last year to 161 presently.

Thanks to the strongest graduate program enrollment ever, C-N has opened the 2020-21 COVID-adjusted academic year with a record student population of 2,911 students.

“It is our joy to see record numbers joining us at Mossy Creek,” President Charles A. Fowler said. “As we welcome each of these into our Carson-Newman family, we commit as Christian educators to guide all of our students to their full potential. We will walk alongside them as they seek God’s purpose for their lives, celebrating with them as they reach their goals and become educated citizens and servant-leaders.”

Before last year’s record, 2016 stood at the top of the record books with a total enrollment of 2,659 students, which included what was then a historic mark of 847 graduate students

A C-N press release notes that most of the school’s graduate offerings experienced growth over the 2019-2020 academic year. With a 115 percent increase, the Master of Science in the school’s Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner program is leading the way of offerings, which include Business Administration, Counseling, Education and Theology, among other programs.

The boost in advanced degree study undergirds the University’s 6.83 percent overall increase, from last year’s record of 2,725 students. The figure includes 1,722 total undergraduate students, 507 of which are new students. There are 383 freshmen and 124 transfers.

The online graduate student explosion makes up for a precipitous drop in freshman from last year’s record, which was mitigated by COVID-19-hampered recruiting efforts and fewer campus visits. College officials cite such complications as the reason for the downshift from Academic Year 2019-20’s remarkable intake of 557 freshmen. This year’s 124 transfers is a bump over the 105 counted on last fall’s roll.

The 10-year trend is encouraging, they say, as the University has seen a 49% increase in total enrollment since 2010.

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