Ifeanyi Okpala, an engineering doctoral candidate

UA’s Renowned Graduate School Sets Record Enrollment

Nayeli Pineda, a communications graduate student focusing on entertainment media, posing in studio
Nayeli Pineda, a communications graduate student focusing on entertainment media

This fall The University of Alabama is celebrating its largest-ever  Graduate School enrollment.

This includes the largest number of Black and Hispanic or Latino graduate students ever enrolled at UA.

Dr. Andrew M. Goodliffe, associate dean for graduate admissions, recruitment and fellowships, said as of the Fall Semester 2021 UA has a total of 6,105 graduate students, the first year graduate enrollment has topped 6,000.

“We are just amazingly excited about the increased enrollment and fulfilling long-term goals we’ve had,” Goodliffe said. “Two years ago, we set a 5-year-goal and we’ve already exceeded it.

“The total number of applicants we had for fall 2021 was 13,818. Just to put that in perspective, in fall 2020 we had 8,615, which was already a record compared to prior years.”

The number of Black and Hispanic or Latino graduate students has consistently matched the growth trend as well. As of fall 2021, there’s a total of 809 Black and 294 Hispanic or Latino enrolled graduate students. In fall 2020, there were 770 Black and 257 Hispanic graduate students. In fall 2019, UA had 634 Black and 187 Hispanic enrolled graduate students.

“One more spectacular number to share is we already have 6,754 completed applications for fall 2022 with a deadline of August to apply,” Goodliffe said. “We’re heading towards another record year and I’m sure we’ll far exceed this year’s numbers.

“This wouldn’t be possible without our amazing admissions team and hardworking faculty members.”

Why the growth?

More and more students are seeking graduate degrees and certificates at the Capstone because of its reputation for excellence, breadth of programs, distinguished faculty and flexible options offered through UA Online. But strategic outreach and recruiting through campaigns like Free App Week have helped as well.

Ifeanyi Okpala, an engineering doctoral candidate
Ifeanyi Okpala, an engineering doctoral candidate

The number of enrolled international graduate students also went up in fall 2021, going from 581 last year to 710 this year. The total number of completed international applications represented 47% of the total number of completed Graduate School applications.

A great deal of that increase in international applications and enrollment is due to current UA graduate students recruiting others from their home countries.

“We have some students who are really good at using social media to spread the word about UA,” Goodliffe said. “This is a testament to what an impactful experience current students are having at UA and how they’re working hard to bring others here as well.”

Goodliffe said there have also been strategic initiatives to increase student diversity.

“We really have focused on bringing in more underrepresented students,” he said. “Lesley Campbell, our director of graduate recruitment, has created a lot of positive relationships with other universities with high numbers of minority students, such as HBCUs, opening up channels for students to come here after undergrad.”

The Graduate School has also grown its McNair Undergraduate Scholars programs, which are for low-income and first-generation college students or members of a group traditionally underrepresented in graduate education, such as Black, Hispanic or Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders.

Preparing for tomorrow

Goodliffe said the Graduate School is focused on strategic planning to grow the University’s master’s degree programs to equip students with in-demand skillsets.

“We have a big focus on trying to meet the needs of employers in Alabama and across the country,” he said. “Employers are looking for workers with master’s degree-level skills needed to be successful in their industry. We’ve also created certificate programs to meet employers’ short-term needs.

“It’s about educating and training students for the careers of tomorrow.”


Jamon Smith, UA Strategic Communications, jamon.smith@ua.edu