CWU News

Enrollment record growth continues at CWU

CWU students on Ellensburg campus

The growth in enrollment at CWU continued for the sixth time in seven years during fall quarter. That is based on newly reported data, which shows that between the Ellensburg campus, online and/or at one of the six University Centers statewide, there are 124 more students—12,332 overall—now taking classes from CWU as compared to the same time in 2017.

“This trend indicates that Central is fulfilling its mission of increasing access to higher education for Washington residents,” said Sharon O’Hare, CWU vice president for Strategic Enrollment. “We are satisfied to see the upswing continue, but we are not going to become complacent. We will continue to work to improve in this regard.” 

Washington residents comprise just under 91 percent of CWU’s student body. In addition, those from underrepresented minorities make up 32 percent and first-generation students 45 percent of the total.

“Students are choosing Central because of the interaction they can have with their professors here, the small-class environments we provide, or because we offer the specific program they are looking for,” O’Hare continued. “Central is a place where we put our focus on undergraduate students. They actually have tremendous opportunities to participate in laboratory research here with faculty and that’s unique.”

That allows many Central graduates to move on to many of the country’s most prestigious graduate programs, because of the portfolio of work they conducted and can demonstrate from studying at CWU. 

The university has also embraced a more scientific approach to the students recruited, including a more in-depth approach analyzing students who have taken the SAT test.

“We’re identifying students who are most likely to come to Central and getting more of those students into our recruiting pipeline,” O’Hare explained. “When our recruiters now go to college fairs they hear from other recruiters that there’s this buzz about going to Central. So, we’re on trend.”

CWU’s student growth is also reported at its University Centers around Washington, where overall enrollment is up 11 percent in a year, which O’Hare credits to increased outreach to and engagement within those communities

“For students restricted by place, our University Centers are learning hubs,” O’Hare said. “They’re for transfer and graduate students, others looking to build or upgrade a certain set of skills but not, necessarily, looking for a four-year degree, or who are on an extended time frame for getting a degree, or taking online or hybrid courses.”

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,