Carson-Newman University records second-highest enrollment

Carson-Newman University has recorded the second highest enrollment in the school’s history for the fall 2018 semester.

The school currently has 2,560 students enrolled for the fall 2018 semester, the second-highest recorded enrollment.

The university has seen a 30 percent increase in its enrollment over the last seven years, with 590 new students enrolled this semester. Their graduate programs have also seen an increase, with the third highest enrollment in those programs recorded this year.

Randall O’Brien, president of Carson-Newman, said he’s pleased with the steady increase in enrollment that the university has seen. 

“We’re very pleased that Tennessee families and others around the nation and even in other countries are discovering one of the best-kept secrets in higher education here at Carson-Newman,” O’Brien said.

Undergraduate tuition at Carson-Newman for the 2017-2018 academic year was $26,200. There will be a tuition increase for the 2018-2019 academic year, to $26,700.

First-year students are required to live on campus. Including student fees, room and board and a meal plan, the cost of attendance was approximately $35,000 for 2017-2018, depending on which residence hall a student lives in and which meal plan is selected. 

What has contributed to growth?

O’Brien said he thought there were several things that had contributed to the steady growth in enrollment. Carson-Newman participates in the Tennessee Promise program, which provides two years of free tuition at a Tennessee community or technical college. Carson-Newman offers an associate's degree, as well as scholarships for students who continue their education at Carson-Newman after earning that degree, O’Brien said.

Additionally, O’Brien said they have expanded their online graduate programs in recent years, which has made their university more accessible for non-traditional students.

O'Brien said one program that has encouraged academic success is their "Eagle Scholar" program for student athletes. It includes an annual ceremony, where student athletes with a GPA of 3.25 or higher are recognized with a certificate and patch to wear on their uniform. While O'Brien said it might sound like a simple concept, "it's encouraging people to give as much attention to academics as athletics."

O’Brien said Carson-Newman has also started focusing more on retaining students.

“We have invested heavily into academic success programs,” O’Brien said. “We believe that’s helped us to retain more students than in the past, and if we recruit well and maintain an attractive education opportunity…then our numbers are likely to go up.”

What Carson-Newman offers

Carson-Newman is a private Christian university founded in 1851. They offer 50 undergraduate majors, with associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Carson-Newman offers classes on campus in Jefferson City, as well as multiple online degree programs.

Carson-Newman’s graduate program also recorded high enrollment numbers for this semester. There are 786 students in the graduate program, the third highest enrollment for the program.

Jeremy Buckner, dean of adult and graduate studies, said he was excited by the high enrollment numbers, but not surprised.

“It’s what we expect because they’ve been growing steadily in the last four years,” Buckner said.

Buckner said he thought the specializations offered through the university’s MBA program, as well as a new online nursing program, have attracted more students to Carson-Newman. Buckner estimated that of the 786 students currently enrolled in graduate programs, about 80 percent of them have taken or are exclusively enrolled in online courses.

“I think word is slowly getting out about our graduate programs,” Buckner said.

Buckner also attributed the growth to the faculty at Carson-Newman.

“Students get here and find faculty that care about their success, faculty that are committed to them inside and outside the classroom,” Buckner said. “They’re finding that same caliber of care in our graduate programs.”

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Monica Kast

The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit


Published September 27, 2018