BISMARCK, N.D. • The University of Mary said this fall semester has seen its largest class of incoming students, estimating nearly 670 new students and overall enrollment of 3,820, the highest ever enrollment for the university.

This record number represents students from across the nation and the world, with 43 states, six Canadian provinces, and 19 countries making up the student body, the school announced on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

“Our freshman class is about 16 percent larger than last year,” said Brenda Nagel, vice president for Public Affairs, who oversees enrollment. “Last year was a huge success for us with having face-to-face classes, and remote, online instruction when students needed to be isolated, if they contracted the COVID virus. We had a very principled, reasonable, and flexible Campus COVID Plan — and it worked very, very well.

“Our campus community was never operating at more than a one percent positive test rate for COVID during the 2020-2021 academic year. I think new students and their parents recognized this and how we were able to keep everyone safe and still provide a world-class, in-person education.”

The University of Mary is the only private Catholic college in North Dakota.

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More than 60 percent of University of Mary’s student population is from out of state. Nagel said, aside from the students and their parents being mindful of Mary’s very successful and safe COVID mitigation, further feedback received from them indicates a hunger for a faith-based education, a hospitable community environment all around campus, a welcoming Bismarck-Mandan community, and a vast amount of very popular academic programs to choose from.

“Since all our programs in business, education and behavioral sciences, health sciences, engineering, Catholic studies, and arts and sciences, are in such high demand right now, these new students have so many opportunities to thrive,” Nagel said. “Just as Pope Saint John Paul II believed everyone should ‘be who you were meant to be,’ at Mary, students not only gain human and spiritual wisdom while training for their career, but also an education for the whole of life.”

Nagel said she believes Mary’s No. 1 ranked nursing program and many other nationally ranked health sciences programs have brought popularity to those fields of study.

Official and final undergraduate and graduate enrollment numbers will be reported, per federal policy, in late September and October, respectively.