ECU expanding online learning opportunities as total enrollments continue to drop

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – East Carolina University is continuing to see a drop in total enrollments, but offerings for online learners are continuing to expand.

East Carolina University’s total enrollment for spring 2024 is 24,738 as of the Jan. 22, Census Day calculations. This is down from the previous spring semester which university leaders say they blame on fewer high school students graduating.

ECU saw increases in the spring semester for first-time first-year students.

When it comes to the Fall semester, ECU has rebounded with 4% growth in incoming freshmen in fall 2023 but also saw a continued drop in total enrollments from the previous year.

Fall 2019 – 28,651

Fall 2020 – 28,798

Fall 2021 – 28,021

Fall 2022 – 27,151

Fall 2023 – 26,785

According to Director of Media Relations and Reputation Management, Jamie Smith, nationally in Fall 2026 there are projected to be fewer graduating high school students each year through 2031. ECU is being intentional in attracting a broader range of learners.

The university said that it is continuing to adapt to the demands of today’s learners by providing more opportunities to potential online students.

“What we’re keeping an eye on is we’re really looking at what are the high-demand degrees that are attractive within the workforce,” said Dr. Allen Guidry, associate provost for learner operations. “What we’re finding is that one, modality changes are necessary in this environment. And so ECU being North Carolina’s leader in online learning, the UNC System’s leader in online learning, we’re excited about the opportunity to expand some of our existing programs and we’re also really excited about some new programs that we have coming onboard as early as this spring.”

We’re told some of these new online programs surround psychology, cyber security, multidisciplinary security studies, and criminal justice. These programs, among others, will be targeted towards adult and military learners, however, the school does encourage those who are interested to apply.

This story has been updated to remove references to SAT scores being optional in enrollment considerations. Those rules are not new and were introduced during the COVID pandemic.