The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Page  1759


ENROLLMENT has more than doubled every twenty years at the University of Michigan. Beginning with only six freshmen and one sophomore in 1841, the first year of its operation in Ann Arbor, the University has steadily grown until it is among the largest in the world. In 1955-56, 33,723 students in credit and professional programs were taught by the faculty of the University.

The growth in size and the amount of service rendered can be significantly described in referring to the number of students earning degrees. Since 1845, when eleven students received degrees, 157,964 degrees have been granted, with 5,030 in 1955-56. The growth became so accelerated that in the nineteen-year period from 1937 to 1956 more degrees were awarded than in all the previous ninety-two years.

The University of Michigan has maintained, throughout the years, a strong undergraduate enrollment as a basis on which to build its graduate and graduate-professional programs.

The selective admissions policy has assured the University of students who have demonstrated the ability to succeed academically. For this reason the loss because of academic failure has been slight. The success of the freshmen and the high quality of the transfer students who enter the University, after acceptably completing work in other colleges, account for the high proportion of the number of degrees granted when compared to the number of students enrolled in degree or professional programs. The relation for the fiscal year of 1955-56 was 18.6 per cent. Even this high percentage was exceeded in many previous years.

The University of Michigan has, throughout its existence, been extremely popular with students outside the state. In the 1920's students came from all the states and more than thirty foreign countries. The cosmopolitan atmosphere of the University was maintained, and the out-of-state enrollment grew with the total University; in general one non-Michigan student registered for each two Michigan residents. Care was exercised to ensure that the out-of-state enrollment represented all parts of the country.

In the 1950's the seven counties adjoining the University's home county of Washtenaw contained more than one-half the population of the state, and they furnished nearly one-half of the Michigan enrollment at the University. The other counties furnished students to the University in proportion to their population also, and not in relation to their distance from Ann Arbor.

In the academic year of 1870-71 thirty-four women were admitted to the University. The percentage of women rose slowly for twenty-five years, reaching a plateau of about 20 per cent in 1895. In 1919-20 a new and higher percentage of women began to be enrolled. Near the end of World War II the percentage of women was at an all-time high of 47 per cent. The return of the men after the war reduced the ratio of women to men to about one to two, where it has since remained.

During wartime the facilities of the University were in great demand. In a six-year period, during and after World War II, 32,745 veterans attended University classes. Of this number 1,163 (3.6 per cent) were women. About one-third of the veterans came from beyond the borders of the state.

The first summer session was held in Page  17601894 for 91 students. The enrollment grew steadily, and in forty years became approximately one-half as large as the regular registration in the fall. This ratio was maintained for the next twenty years. Residence credit enrollment for the 1956 summer session was 9,028.

The need for extending the teaching services of the University beyond Ann Arbor was met by off-campus extension classes taught by regular faculty members. The first classes were held in 1911, and 230 students were enrolled in 1915-16. The enrollment for the academic year 1955-56 in extramural credit program classes was 5,011. An additional 977 persons took credit courses by correspondence in that year.

The demands upon the University's teaching facilities were so varied that many different programs were organized. The student accounting procedure followed the teaching program and was reported as follows for the academic year 1955-56.

There were 27,053 students registered in degree or postgraduate professional residence credit level programs. The postgraduate registrations were in programs designed to acquaint practicing physicians, dentists, and hospital workers with the latest developments in their fields. Although a degree was not the objective for this group, the instructional level was postgraduate.

Because some 850 postgraduate professional students were in training for less than half of the regular sessions they were counted separately.

The 5,988 students in extension credit courses utilizing classroom instruction and correspondence techniques were referred to above. In addition to these there were 600 students in extramural postgraduate professional medical programs of short duration but of an instructional level higher than that of first degree programs.

The enrollment in credit and professional programs referred to above was 33,723 in 1955-56.

The Extension Service also enrolled 6,994 students in certificate (noncredit) classroom courses which were offered because

Enrollment and Degrees Granted at the University of Michigan by Ten-Year Intervals (Fiscal Year Enrollments)
Year Credit & Professional Programs Residence Credit Degree and Post-graduate Professional Programs Degrees Granted
Total Men Women Total Men Women
1841-42 7 7 0 7 7 0 0
1850-51 159 159 0 159 159 0 18
1860-61 674 674 0 674 674 0 166
1870-71 1,110 1,076 34 1,110 1,076 34 304
1880-81 1,534 1,356 178 1,534 1,356 178 436
1890-91 2,420 1,975 445 2,420 1,975 445 635
1900-01 3,712 2,881 831 3,712 2,881 831 764
1910-11 5,381 4,467 914 5,381 4,467 914 1,096
1920-21 10,623 7,822 2,801 9,930 7,567 2,363 1,526
1930-31 15,500 9,765 5,735 12,531 8,538 3,993 2,673
1940-41 18,899 11,969 6,930 16,525 10,914 5,611 3,386
1950-51 31,339 21,425 9,914 25,649 18,116 7,533 6,399
1955-56 33,723 22,001 11,722 27,053 18,327 8,726 5,030
Page  1761of popular demand. An additional 1,101 students were served by correspondence.

All the above groups comprise 41,818 students enrolled in University instructional programs in 1955-56. Students registered in more than one credit program were counted only once. No registration was requested or count attempted of persons served by the instructional programs broadcast by the University's radio or television studios.