Back-to-School Media Tip Sheet

Aug. 18, 2017

UA Welcomes 10,000 New Undergraduate Students

TUCSON, Ariz. — Monday marks the first day of class for the 2017-18 school year at the University of Arizona. Approximately 10,000 undergraduate students from all 50 states will start their higher education journey in Tucson as proud members of the Wildcat family.

"We are honored to welcome all of our new and returning Wildcats to campus," said Kasey Urquidez, vice president of enrollment management and student affairs advancement and dean of undergraduate admissions at the UA. "The entering class is our most diverse ever, with increases in academic quality and test scores. We are thrilled with the continuing growth of outstanding Arizona residents selecting the University of Arizona as their institution of choice."

In addition to the 10,000-plus new undergraduate students, which includes freshmen, new transfer students and those returning to the UA after time away, the UA welcomes back tens of thousands of returning students as they continue their academic careers.

"In addition to the gains among our incoming class, we are extremely proud to announce a record year in freshman to sophomore retention," said Vincent Del Casino Jr., vice president of academic initiatives and student success. "The University has invested heavily in making data-informed decisions, which has allowed it to develop a number of targeted, timely interventions and practices such as deploying micro-scholarships to students in need, creating a nudging campaign that was launched four weeks into the fall semester last year, and providing students with mid-term progress grades in key courses. As a result of this collaborative, cross-institutional work, we are confident that we will be well above our Arizona Board of Regents' goal of 83 percent retention."

"Today there are more Wildcats coming to campus, more families celebrating their students' success and, ultimately, more students who will graduate with degrees from one of the world's great universities – it's a great day for our students and for Arizona," said Melissa Vito, senior vice president for student affairs, enrollment management and strategic initiatives. "These enrollment and retention milestones are thanks to an unprecedented combination of campus-wide teamwork, innovation and strategic reinvestments in areas such as financial aid."

Enrollment highlights and figures

  • Record Arizona residents: The UA has enrolled a record number of Arizona residents, recording a 7 percent increase in in-state resident freshmen since 2015 and a 25 percent increase since 2002.
  • Statewide reach
    • 2016 to 2017 increases
      • Pima County: up 16 percent
      • Pinal County: up 75 percent
      • Yuma County: up 18 percent
  • Academic quality climbs: The percentage of academically talented residents (those enrolling with a 3.5 or higher unweighted core GPA and 1300 SAT score) is up 39 percent over 2016.
    • First-time, full-time residents academic stats:
      • SAT average: 1157, up from 1151 last year
      • ACT average: 25
      • 26 percent of the incoming class are pursuing majors in STEM fields
  • Freshman Honors College highlights:
    • Core unweighted GPA average in high school: 3.86
    • The Honors College has developed a year-long vector calculus class to meet the needs of several University High School students who have exhausted their math options at the high school level. The five UHS students will meet at the Honors College twice a week. One of the students is available for media interviews.
  • Honors College student increases:
    • SAT average: 1395 (up 61 points from last year)
    • ACT average: 30 (up 1 point from last year)
  • Most diverse freshman and transfer classes in UA history: 46 percent of all new freshmen come from diverse backgrounds, which is a 3 percent increase over 2016 and a 5 percent rise since 2015.
    • Arizona resident freshman diversity is 52 percent, an 18 percent increase since 2012.
    • Transfer diversity is also at an all-time high, up from 48 percent in 2016 to 51 percent in 2017.
    • Transfer diversity has increased year-over-year from 38 percent in 2010 to 51 percent today.
  • Transfer student increases: As of Aug. 14, the UA has posted a 3 percent increase in enrolled transfer students. That number will continue to rise, as transfer students are still registering for all campuses, modalities and fall start terms.
  • Graduate enrollment increases:
    • 1.4 percent increase in graduate and professional programs

Retention rates

  • The UA has exceeded its Arizona Board of Regents' goal of 83 percent retention for 2017-18.

Flinn Scholars

  • Of the 20 newly named Flinn Scholars for 2017-18, 10 have selected and enrolled at the UA.
    • One Flinn Scholar, Nizhonabah Davis, joins the UA as only the second Flinn Scholar to come from a rural tribal community in Northern Arizona. She was the class valedictorian at Ganado High School, located in the Navajo Nation Tribe. Nizhonabah participated in the UA's Native American Science and Engineering Program ( She will be majoring in physics.
    • An additional 14 Flinn finalists and 21 Flinn semifinalists are joining the UA's freshman class.

New Degree Programs for Fall 2017

  • Majors
    • B.S. in Animal and Biomedical Industries
    • B.S. In Architectural Engineering
    • Professional Science Masters in Applied Nutrition
    • M.S. in Cybersecurity
    • M.S. in Marketing
  • Minors
    • Undergraduate Minor in New Testament Language and Literature
  • Undergraduate Certificates
    • Transportation Engineering
    • Advanced Transportation Engineering (bridge program available to international partner institutions)
    • Entrepreneurship and New Venture Development
    • Social Innovation
    • Zoo and Aquarium Conservation
    • Professional and Technical Writing
    • Cyber Operations
    • Cybersecurity
  • Graduate Certificates
    • Accounting
  • New Subplans for Existing Undergraduate Programs
    • B.A. Journalism
      • General
      • Broadcast
      • Global
    • Bachelor of Applied Science
      • Regional Commerce

Adobe Creative Campus

Fast Track Courses

  • Students can now customize their learning by adding stackable, employer-designed courses to their academic portfolios. Students can add highly focused, skill-based programs in fields like digital marketing or the Adobe Creative Suite to enhance their resumes regardless of major.
    • The Fast Track program has received recognition for this program from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and will expand in 2017-18.

Back-To-School Activities

  • The UA has several back-to-school activities planned for new and returning students, highlighted by the Bigger. Better. Bash! new student convocation on Sunday. The pre-show starts at 6:30 p.m. on the UA Mall with a student services showcase to highlight the UA resources available to new students. The program kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and features live performances by various student clubs, speakers on a variety of topics such as campus life, academics and UA traditions, and a DJ.
  • Complete schedule online at

*Please note all numbers and figures in this document are preliminary until census date in mid-September.


Media contacts:

Kasey Urquidez
Enrollment Management & Student Affairs Advancement

Vin Del Casino, Jr.
Student Affairs & Enrollment Management
Academic Initiatives & Student Success

David Miller
Student Affairs & Enrollment Management
Academic Initiatives & Student Success

Established in 1885, the University of Arizona, the state's super land-grant university with two medical schools, produces graduates who are real-world ready through its 100% Engagement initiative. Recognized as a global leader and ranked 16th for the employability of its graduates, the UA is also a leader in research, bringing more than $606 million in research investment each year, and ranking 21st among all public universities. The UA is advancing the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships, and is a member of the Association of American Universities, the 62 leading public and private research universities. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $8.3 billion annually.