Photo courtesy of Morgan State University

Morgan State University received more than 14,600 undergraduate applications for the 2021 fall semester as of April, the highest ever for the university, officials announced Monday.

Undergraduate applications for the historically Black college and university are up 58.5% from pre-pandemic numbers in 2019.

The university has also received more than 1,000 applications for graduate school, a 9.6% increase over 2019, and nearly 1,200 housing applications, up 54.6% from 2019.

Morgan administrators called the number of applications they received this year “unprecedented.”

They attributed the increases to factors including the Black Lives Matter movement and heightened national attention on diversity, equity and inclusion; Morgan’s “unique and/or highly sought-after programs” and competitiveness; and the settlement of a lawsuit over equity for Maryland’s HBCUs; large financial gifts to Morgan from MacKenzie Scott, former wife of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, and alum Calvin Tyler and his wife Tina.

Additionally, Morgan has made standardized testing optional for applicants, waived application fees, accepted unofficial transcripts and began offering virtual campus tours.

Morgan State University President David Wilson said the application numbers for the fall are encouraging

“We have faced challenges during the pandemic and have seen some of our natural growth stifled as a result,” Wilson said in a statement. “However, what these record numbers of applications are revealing is that educational attainment is still very important to a great number of people and that there is a tremendous appetite to receive that education at Morgan.”

The Common Application, the online college application that hundreds of colleges and universities use, in January reported a 9% increase in the number of applications per applicant this year.

Kara Turner, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success at Morgan, said university officials were surprised by the number of application submissions they received.

“Although we were already seeing incremental increases in applications annually and anticipated some additional level of growth due to national trends, what we are seeing in actuality was somewhat unexpected, but this is a good problem to have,” Turner said in a statement.

Morgan officials said the university traditionally has between 1,600 to 1,800 available spaces for its freshman class, and annual student enrollment has been about 8,000 for the past five years.

“More applications mean more opportunity to grow our enrollment. And although we do not expect the majority of these prospective students to enroll, as of today more than 1,500 new students have paid their enrollment deposit,” Turner added. “Even though the May 1st National College Decision Day has passed, we are continuing to admit students and to welcome admitted students to pay their deposit and secure their spot at Morgan for the fall.”

Morgan housed up to 2,200 students in campus housing before the pandemic. The university is encouraging students to complete their housing applications as soon as possible as available housing is expected to fill up quickly.

The university is currently building a new apartment-style residence facility, which is expected to be completed in 2024.

Morgan State University on April 23 announced that it would require all faculty, staff and students to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 1, unless they have a religious or medical exemption.

School officials expect to see the number of applicants rise over the next four months before the beginning of the fall semester.

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...