National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Releases Spring Enrollment Estimate Report

June 12, 2023

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Title: Current Term Enrollment Estimates: Spring 2023

Authors: Benjamin Berg, Shannon Lee, Beatrix Randolph, Mikyung Ryu, and Doug Shapiro

Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center 

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has released a new report that provides comprehensive enrollment data at the national level, including estimates for different degree levels, institutional sectors, enrollment intensity, age groups, gender, major fields, and state-level enrollment figures.

Current Term Enrollment Estimates Report Series is published every January and May by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The report uses Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and Carnegie Classifications data for institutional sector designations.

Key findings from the survey are summarized below: 

  • Community college enrollment grew slightly in spring 2023, driven by younger students like dual-enrolled high school students and freshmen.
  • Undergraduate enrollment at public and private nonprofit four-year institutions is still declining, but at slower rates, while overall undergraduate enrollment remained stable.
  • Graduate-level enrollment had a significant decline compared to spring 2022, losing pandemic-associated gains.
  • Total postsecondary enrollment remains well below prepandemic levels, with around 1.09 million fewer students overall and 1.16 million fewer undergraduates compared to spring 2020.
  • Freshman enrollment increased by 9.2 percent in spring 2023, with community colleges accounting for the largest distribution of freshmen (53.9 percent).
  • Credential preferences are changing among undergraduates, with bachelor’s degree enrollment declining compared to associate degree enrollment, while other undergraduate credentials, including certificates/diplomas among others, showed growth.
  • The decline in graduate-level enrollment is mainly due to losses in master’s programs.
  • Female enrollment declined, while male enrollment grew, continuing the trend of improved enrollment outlook for men, especially at community colleges, where male enrollment grew by 2.7 percent in spring 2023.
  • Most states align with the national trend of enrollment stabilization or growth compared to the previous spring, and multistate and primarily online institutions regained lost enrollments, returning to spring 2021 levels.
  • At four-year institutions, computer science undergraduate programs experienced the highest growth rate in three years, while enrollment in computer science programs at two-year institutions is now above pre-pandemic levels.
  • There continues to be declining enrollment in healthcare and education programs at two- and four-year institutions.

To explore findings and methodological information about the report and survey, click here.

—Alexandria M. Falzarano

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