Montana Tech Experiencing Highest Retention Rate in Years


Montana Technological University released its fall semester enrollment figures this week. The university's north campus is experiencing one of the highest retention rates in years, and the south campus, Highlands College, is also seeing an increase. The north campus retention rate is at a high of 81%, while Highlands College increased from 57% in the fall of 2019 to 65%.

The university experienced a slight enrollment decline but saw growth within several degree programs. Total overall headcount decreased by 4% compared to fall 2019, going from 2,421 to 2,329. The university was pleased with the Exercise and Health Sciences program's growth and increases in the Civil Engineering and the Pre-Apprenticeship Line Program.

"Given the circumstances of dealing with a worldwide pandemic, I am pleased to see only a slight decline in our headcount for the fall semester," noted Montana Tech Chancellor Les Cook. "We anticipated there would be challenges and budgeted accordingly. It is reassuring to see growth in our programs, and I am thrilled with the efforts of our faculty and staff to increase our retention rate, which perhaps is the highest rate in our history. We are in a strong position as we move forward."

This fall, Montana Tech began offering an Exercise and Health Sciences degree program in their College of Letters, Sciences, & Professional Studies offerings. The degree program was previously called Applied Health and Safety Sciences but adjusted to reflect the content and degree offering more accurately. This is a high demand field with a science-based curriculum emphasizing health, wellness, exercise physiology, and occupational health and safety. The university expects growth to continue in this area.

Montana Tech's dual enrollment program also saw growth, with 324 high school students earning 1,284 credits. The "One-Two-Free" dual enrollment program increases higher education access for high school students throughout Montana. The program offers two free dual enrollment courses, up to six credits, through the Montana University System (MUS) to all eligible high school students.

The university's Civil Engineering program continues to be a strength and saw an increase in students this fall. Both the Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering programs recently received accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. Accreditation assures that Montana Tech's programs meet standards to produce graduates ready to enter critical technical fields leading the way in innovation and emerging technologies and anticipating the public's welfare and safety needs.

Montana Tech's Pre-Apprenticeship Line Program saw continued growth this semester. The line program increased its cap going from 25 to 36. The one-semester certificate program prepares students for groundman and apprentice positions within the line trade. Montana Tech expects this program to continue to be of interest as the demand for lineman increases over the next few years.

"We are excited that the university's focus on recruitment and retention over the last year paid off," noted Leslie Dickerson, Executive Director of Admissions and Enrollment. "We saw an increase in the number of new, in-state students, which is a big accomplishment in the current environment. Our applications for fall 2021 are also up. This, coupled with increased retention on both campuses, is great news."

Montana Tech's graduate school saw a slight decline of two students. With the addition of a doctoral program in earth science and engineering and a master's degree in ecological restoration, the university expects graduate enrollment to increase.

Even within a pandemic, Montana Tech has had a successful fall. The university launched its inaugural group of cross-country athletes, and men's golf won the Frontier Conference season title for the first time ever. The university's annual giving day, DayOne, was record-breaking, raising nearly $200,000 over two days from 726 donors. The university also held its first virtual career fair, providing students an online opportunity to have conversations with employers.