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Brenau University enrollment holds steady

GAINESVILLE -- Since the introduction of online and graduate programs dramatically boosted registrations a few years ago, Brenau University's numbers are holding steady with a total enrollment of 2,735 students for this academic year, compared to 2,744 in 2010. Classes for all students began Aug. 29.

"We are, more or less, at the same numbers we had last year, and for a private institution in this challenging economy, we feel good about maintaining levels that have been enjoying historic highs over the past decade," said Scott Briell, senior vice president for enrollment and student services at the 134-year-old institution.

Brenau maintains educational programs in Gainesville, Augusta, Kings Bay, North Atlanta/Norcross and South Atlanta/Fairburn. For Brenau's fully accredited online program, which has six undergraduate and 10 graduate degree tracks, the numbers steadily have increased to 473 this year.

The university, which recently established the Sydney O. Smith Jr. Graduate School for advanced and terminal degrees, has enrolled 13 students in its new Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

"We are in the process of doing feasibility studies on other programs for the graduate school in areas including business, education, and occupational therapy, or OT, which is booming in popularity right now because of the health care market," Briell said.

Included in those numbers is a contingent of international students from countries as diverse as China, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Great Britain and Afghanistan. Brenau participates in the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women, a national, nonprofit scholarship fund.

Brenau expects to expand to 5,000 students in the next decade, with most of the growth in graduate programs. Many of these students will complete some or all of their courses in online studies. In that scenario, the university plans to cap the enrollment of the Women's College at about 800 or 900 students as it becomes an increasingly more selective undergraduate institution.

Founded in 1878, Brenau University currently enrolls students in graduate and undergraduate programs on campuses and online. With a curriculum that blends professional preparation informed by the liberal arts, Brenau degree tracks range from Associate of Arts, which includes a special early college program for exceptional high school-age students, to terminal degrees, including a Master of Fine Arts in Interior design and a Doctor of Nursing Practice.