Two students carry boxes for class of 2027 student outside Smith Hall on Move-in Day

Bucknell to Open 2023-24 with Record Enrollment for Third Straight Year

August 16, 2023

by Mike Ferlazzo

Bucknell University will open its 178th academic year on Monday, Aug. 21, with a record enrollment for the third consecutive year. As of Aug. 15, the student body comprises 3,925 students, including 3,867 undergraduates, 44 graduate students and 14 nondegree students. The enrollment figure reflects one of the highest sophomore retention rates in University history, currently with 96.3% of Class of 2026 students remaining enrolled; and the second-largest incoming class in Bucknell history, with 1,033 students in the Class of 2027.

Only last year's record class of 1,039 new students was larger than this year's. The University opened last year with the previous record enrollment at 3,854 students.

"Demand for a Bucknell education remains higher than ever," said President John Bravman in his annual University Address to employees Aug. 14. "Very few schools in this country can say that. We have seen more than 11,000 applications in each of the past three years, with more students than ever accepting our offer of admission. Simply put, our yield is up. That's phenomenal, and I am incredibly proud of the work we've all done to reach this level of interest from such talented students."

Bucknell will mark the start of the Class of 2027's academic experience during the Convocation ceremony, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20, in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, followed immediately by the traditional candlelighting ceremony on Malesardi Quadrangle. Both will be livestreamed on Bucknell's Facebook page. Bravman will deliver the Convocation Address to officially open the new academic year.

The incoming class was selected from among 11,010 applicants and hails from 40 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico; as well as 24 countries and administrative regions. The first-year student body includes 22% who are students of color (21.7% last year), 4.5% who are international students (4.1% last year) and 13.5% who are first-generation students. The class had an average high school GPA of 3.65, up slightly from last year (3.63).

Diverse Talent Outside the Classroom


New students from the Class of 2027 participate in the GC3: Global Connections, Cultures & Community Pre-Orientation program. Photo by Douglas Kilpatrick

While members of the incoming class excel academically, they are exceptionally well rounded, with many impressive accomplishments beyond the classroom.

Members of the Class of 2027 are particularly active in service to others. One new student organized a mental health conference for 30 children in Liberia called the "Sane Minds Initiative," while another installed water pumps and filters in rural areas of Pakistan to provide clean water. One student is president of JusticeworX, an organization that assists the Navajo Tribe on a reservation in Arizona, while another is founder of beads2benefit, which created and sold jewelry and donated the profits to local food banks to offset food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another incoming student is founder of "Let's Talk Business," a program that teaches teens financial literacy and economic education; while another is co-founder and co-leader of the Happiness Project, which creates a safe space to destress and highlights the importance of mental health.

One incoming student has already served as a congressional intern in the House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight & Reform. Another has a patent for designing a device used in physics experiments.

Competitively, one new student represented Team USA and Bucknell in the javelin in Puerto Rico this summer at the PanAm Championships, finishing second. Another incoming student was a national champion water polo goalkeeper, while another made four national water polo teams in South Africa. Still another helped organize the first-ever girls' soccer team at her school in Afghanistan.

"Bucknell's Class of 2027 is an impressive mix of academic and personal talent," says Assistant Vice President & Dean of Admissions Kevin Mathes ’07. "They embraced academic challenges, dove deep into research interests and weren't afraid to try something new. Yet they also took time to develop their whole person by pursuing activities that brought them joy. Their service to their communities, advocacy work and accomplishments in the arts, athletics and myriad other organizations impressed us. We know they will make a positive impact on the Bucknell community."

More than half of applicants for the Class of 2027 (54.6%) applied test-optional, meaning they chose not to include SAT or ACT scores with their application. That percentage is up slightly from last year.

There are also 27 transfer students this year, 12 of whom are Bucknell Community College Scholars.