Providing Access to Lifelong Learning – NDUS Annual Enrollment


When the average person hears the term “college student” they think of a traditional degree-seeking student, or in other words, a student pursuing coursework that carries credit which can be applied toward a college degree. Further, when enrollment numbers are released nationally, oftentimes the number reported only include students who are degree seeking. However, it is worth pausing and asking about other types of students:

What do we know about others who are benefitting from postsecondary education, even if they are not currently seeking a degree?

Who else does the North Dakota University System serve and educate?

The North Dakota University System (NDUS) 2018-2019 Annual Enrollment Report was released in October of 2019. It is

“an effort to report system wide, duplicated and unduplicated student headcount by combining degree credit and non-degree credit enrollments across the eleven NDUS institutions for an entire academic year.” Furthermore, information on non-credit enrollments are “provided through TrainND, a legislatively established organization powered by the five state community colleges whose purpose is to provide customized employee training to North Dakota business and industry.”

As this report indicates, not only does NDUS provide exceptional access to students pursuing a degree, but to those seeking coursework for Non-Degree Credit and Non-Credit as well. The descriptions below demonstrate the continued NDUS commitment to diverse offerings supporting lifelong learning for anyone, regardless of their educational goals.

Degree-Seeking Student Headcount: 52,702 (80.6% of total)

These students are taking credits toward a credential of some sort, whether it be a certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctoral/professional degree. The access to these programs is critical for preparing students for the workforce, especially those in industries requiring a specific credential.


Non-Degree Student Headcount: 3,089 (4.7% of total)

Although the smallest portion of the total enrollment number, this category is certainly important for North Dakota communities. These students tend to be high school students with dual enrollment who are getting a head start on their college credits. This category also includes students who are taking courses at one NDUS institution in order to transfer these credits to another institution that will ultimately grant them a degree. Finally, these students also include those who continue their lifelong learning by seeking credit-bearing continuing education through one or multiple NDUS institutions.


Non-Credit Student Headcount: 9,540 (14.6% of total)

Drawing from expertise within five NDUS institutions, Train ND ( provides organizational and employee training which allows businesses to further develop internal talent. TrainND works with business and industry providing an assessment to determine each organization’s needs, then provide courses to meet those identified needs and builds a program that’s right for the continued development of employees, increasing employee and organizational productivity.

The NDUS Annual Enrollment report aims to be a straightforward and streamlined account of our system’s students. However, the background work that goes into this report is meaningful and inspiring. The NDUS aims to meet students of all ages and life stages where they’re at, and to help them on their journey of learning. Whether someone is a traditional college student right out of high school or a working adult looking to grow their skills for greater workforce opportunity – or anything else in between – the NDUS aims to serve. The faculty and staff at our eleven colleges and universities do great work for our diverse students, and we’re proud to convey this ongoing work through our reporting as institutional researchers.


Ryan Jockers is a Strategic Analytics Coordinator for the North Dakota University System (NDUS). In this position he works with all NDUS institutions providing direction for strategic planning and institutional effectiveness processes as required by the State Board of Higher Education. Further, he assists in providing strategic data solutions to all entities within the NDUS, including close collaboration with other state agencies such as the Information Technology Department, Department of Public Instruction, and Job Service ND among others. Ryan has a passion for understanding the true impacts of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on a society, and strives to find the most efficient use of AI that aligns with the strategic goals and objectives of higher education in North Dakota.