University of Mary Sets New Enrollment Record and Welcomes Largest Freshman Class

Students on the lawn with flags

BISMARCK, ND — Once classes officially begin on campus Tuesday, September 5, the new Class of 2023 will be remembered historically as a record setting one with the largest number of freshmen to ever enroll at the University of Mary. As of now, the University of Mary overall enrollment will be approximately 3,850. Of those students, 568 are freshmen, breaking a 2018 record of 533.

The numbers are not final until early fall when the official total is submitted to the federal government. Vice President for Public Affairs Rachael Brash says not only is the freshman class at its highest, but also this year’s freshman class to sophomore class retention rate set a record at 83.4% — up from 80.4%. Those two data points make this the largest enrollment ever at the University of Mary.

“There is a very strong demand for the high-quality programs taught by world-class faculty in a Christian, Catholic, and Benedictine environment at a very affordable price,” explained Brash. “That culture and those offerings are appealing in today’s world of public discontent, high anxiety, and economic uncertainty. I think another important factor is we hear from our current student-body that Mary fosters a welcoming community environment their siblings, parents, friends hear about and subsequently word gets around — that sense of belonging attracts more students. Their peers want to come here — not only from North Dakota, but also from around the US and internationally.”

There are 50 states and 20 countries represented on campus. Of those students 43% come from North Dakota, while Minnesota and Wisconsin round off the top three geographic locations with 15% and 4%, respectively.  

“These are exciting times to experience our growth and be a student at the University of Mary,” exclaimed Executive Vice President Jerome Richter. “Our record-breaking class is not only a testament to our vibrant and welcoming campus community, but also to the beauty, growth, and vitality of the Bismarck-Mandan area. Our two cities embrace the fact that our student population enriches the culture and provides a steady workforce grounded in faith, values, ethics, and integrity essential for long-term economic stability. Our students fall in love with our two cities and North Dakota, they sometimes meet their future spouse on campus, and many of these new students end up staying here — happy to begin raising a new family and call Bismarck-Mandan their new home. At a time when workforce is greatly in need this becomes a great support to Bismarck-Mandan, our great state, and the entire region.”

New to campus this year when it officially opens on September 15 is an extension to the west side of Lumen Vitae University Center (LVUC) called The Lodge — that includes a beautiful lounging area for students with tropical vegetation, waterfall, and terrace overlooking the majestic Missouri River Valley — the same view Lewis and Clark experienced back in 1804. Also, opening in September, a newly renovated nursing facility on the north wing of the Casey Center providing the most advanced health care technology and four-times the number of nursing simulation experiences.

In addition to this year’s expansion, the University of Mary is experiencing tremendous growth on campus as a result of its three-phased $272 million Vision 2030 Capital Campaign started in 2015. Phase I included a new all-female Roers Residence Hall; Field House for various sports and student health and wellness area; LVUC at the center of campus featuring The Crow’s Nest Restaurant with 24/7 dining, lounging areas, and student amenities; and the state-of-the-art Hamm School of Engineering, to name just a few. 

Phase II is currently underway with the recent expansion and completion of the Hamm School of Engineering. There’s more building to come in the near future with the anticipation of a new Welcome Center added on to the Benedictine Center for Servant Leadership building on south campus; an all-new master landscaping project throughout campus and a Marauders Sports Complex on the east side of campus parallel to Highway 1804 that will bring several NCAA sports onto campus; and the expansion of the Saint Gianna School of Health Sciences to meet the nation’s health care needs. 

One undergraduate program highlights the new degrees offered this fall at the University of Mary.

The Saint Gianna School of Health Sciences launched its new tuition-free Nursing Academy this semester through an innovative partnership with both Sanford Health and CHI St. Alexius Health in Bismarck. Nursing Academy students earn their bachelor’s degree in less than three years by taking advantage of University of Mary’s one-of-a-kind Year-Round Campus model, enjoy an all-expense paid service-learning trip and pilgrimage to Italy, Germany and France, made possible through the support of generous donors. Nursing Academy students also benefit from personalized mentorship experiences and gain access to sought-after career opportunities.

Anyone who wishes to learn more about the University of Mary can do so at or, or by contacting an admissions representative at, or by calling (701) 355-8030. The University of Mary is one of only 15 Recommended Cardinal Newman Society Residential Colleges and Universities in the US.

About the University of Mary: True to its motto “lumen vitae”—The Light of Life—the University of Mary offers education for the whole of life through cutting-edge professional programs and graduate programs animated by moral courage and leadership in chosen professions and service to the community. A private, co-educational Catholic institution, the University of Mary welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.

A Christian, Catholic, Benedictine institution founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Mary offers nearly 60 bachelor’s, 15 master’s, and five doctoral programs—in Business Administration, Education, Nursing Practice, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. The 19-sport Athletic Department adheres to its Greatness Through Virtue mission under the governance of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) conferences. With more than 3,800 students, Mary has locations in North Dakota, Montana, Arizona, Rome, Italy, as well as vibrant online offerings.