Five-year Goals and Associated Interim Benchmarks

In January 2017, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina unanimously approved Higher Expectations, a five-year Strategic Plan for the UNC System. The Plan calls on the UNC System to achieve ambitious goals in access, student success, affordability and efficiency, economic impact and community engagement, and institutional excellence and diversity.

Progress on these goals and metrics will be achieved through the hard work and commitment of institutional leaders, faculty, and staff. In that spirit, North Carolina State University has identified these contributions that North Carolina State University aspires to make to the UNC Strategic Plan over the next five years.

From NC State: NC State’s land-grant mission to provide education, research, and outreach that benefits all North Carolinians drives the university’s path forward, as reflected in our strategic plan. A strong North Carolina depends on attracting students from all backgrounds, providing them with a high-quality experiential education, making extensive efforts to ensure that they graduate in a timely manner, and positioning them to solve society’s grand challenges. Our state benefits greatly from NC State’s position as a pre-eminent research enterprise, which continues to create and grow economic, societal, and intellectual prosperity. With the local, national, and global landscape constantly changing, we seek to improve the future by preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We’re creating a path forward for North Carolina through prioritizing success in increasing rural enrollments, our five-year undergraduate graduation rate, undergraduate degree efficiency, critical workforces, and research productivity.


Rural Enrollments

By fall 2021, NC State will enroll 5,836 rural students, a 6.1% increase over 2016 levels (335 additional rural students over a base of 5,501).

From NC State: NC State enrolls students from all 100 North Carolina counties. NC State houses several programs that help ensure a variety of pathways into the university. For example, our College of Agriculture and Life Sciences provides a unique opportunity through STEAM (Student Transition Enrollment Advising and Mentoring), a program that helps make higher education more accessible to rural students interested in pursuing an agriculture-related major. Participants take part in a summer session at NC State and then take their first semester of coursework at a North Carolina community college (or other institution). In addition, TRIO programs like Talent Search and Upward Bound also serve rural students and encourage rural students to apply to NC State. These programs provide equal access to high-quality education by facilitating retention and promotion from middle schools through post-baccalaureate completion. Talent Search serves 800-plus middle and high school students, while Upward Bound serves 180-plus high school students.

Five-year Graduation Rates

By 2022, NCSU will improve its five-year graduation rate from any accredited institution to 81.6%. This is an improvement over a base of 76.7% for NCSU’s 2010 cohort.

From NC State: NC State has implemented several innovative initiatives and programs that help our students succeed, and we’re seeing strong results. In fall 2015, NC State implemented a new advising platform: Student Success GPS (Go, Plan, Succeed), which incorporates existing student information into advising, scheduling, calendaring, student communication tools, student data, and predictive analytics. MyPack Portal, an online tool that includes the Enrollment Wizard, online degree audits, and the Pack Planner, allows students to monitor their academic progress and choose schedules that ensure timely graduation. NC State is building the new Academic Success Center, to be located in D.H. Hill Library, to provide comprehensive academic support services to students, including tutoring, academic coaching, drop-in academic advising, and career counseling.

Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, NCSU will improve its undergraduate degree efficiency to 24.9 over a base of 23.9.

From NC State: As part of NC State’s ongoing efforts to enhance student success, we’ve been able to meet and exceed our initial goals in part as a result of efforts to increase undergraduate graduation rates and decrease students’ average time to earn a degree. Expanded academic advising services and increased resources for advisors give students more options to get and stay on track to earn their degrees in four years. The Division of Academic and Student Affairs supports efficiency by creating a centralized home for the majority of student and academic support programming on campus. Also, our Change of Degree Application process helps students change degree programs more efficiently and helps students achieve a timely graduation. At NC State, we offer many programs and services like these to encourage efficiency while placing primary importance on educational quality.

Critical Workforces

By 2021-22, NCSU will produce 6,064 critical workforce credentials, an increase of 12.3% (665 additional critical workforce credentials over a base of 5,399).

From NC State: With 5902 critical workforce degrees last year, NC State is well on track to surpass the plan goal.  We are supplying North Carolina’s booming Research Triangle region—as well as the state and country at large—with highly sought-after graduates with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees. The Goodnight Scholars program targets low- and middle-income students (four-year and transfer) studying in the STEM disciplines or affiliated education majors, developing scholars into leaders within the STEM and/or STEM-education fields. Forbes magazine ranked NC State as one of the nation’s top colleges specializing in these fields. K-12 teachers make up an important component of the critical workforce credentials, and we’ve increased teacher enrollment for three consecutive years. We’re helping put the state’s brightest minds in K-12 classrooms throughout North Carolina, in part through our participation in the reinstated North Carolina Teaching Fellows program.

Research Productivity

By 2021-22, NCSU will receive $404,022,620 in research and development sponsored program awards and licensing income, an increase of 19.2% ($65,077,469 additional over a base of $338,945,151).

From NC State: NC State is recognized as a research powerhouse. More than 170 startups and spin-offs have resulted from research that began at NC State, attracting more than $1.7 billion in venture capital. We’re ranked number six nationwide for licensing and optioning research discoveries to industry; we’re among the top 25 universities for technology transfer. More than 1500 patents have been issued from our research, yielding more than 600 consumer products. We have also focused on supporting undergraduate research productivity and have increased funding by $100,000 for more than 1,100 students conducting research and/or attending conferences annually. We engage students in our discovery and innovation efforts, providing opportunities to conduct undergraduate and graduate research so they are better positioned for future careers.


Low-income Enrollments

By fall 2021, NCSU will enroll 4,925 low-income students, a 6.5% increase over 2015 levels (300 additional low-income students over a base of 4,625).

From NC State: NC State has a number of programs to help increase low-income access to a high-quality college education. NC State is a member of the Coalition for College, which offers a free platform of online tools for planning and applying to college. The NC State TRIO programsUpward Bound and Talent Search serve 1,000 low-income and first generation middle and high schools students each year. The NC State Community College Collaboration (C3) is a dual-admission program between NC State and ten regional community college partners. C3 helps low-to-moderate income students transfer to NC State after completing their associate’s degree. PackTrac is a collaboration with 10 North Carolina Community Colleges to provide academic training and advising to students passionate about agriculture with a desire to earn a degree from NC State. The Juntos Program helps Latino students succeed in middle and high school and continue on to postsecondary education.

Rural Completions

By 2021-22, NCSU will produce 1,400 rural graduates, an increase of 7.7% (100 additional rural completions over a base of 1,300).

From NC State: NC State supports rural students throughout the lifespan of their undergraduate careers by offering programs and services focused on academic success. This includes the addition of several professional advisors in the last few years to serve students and ensure timely progress toward a degree. The University Tutorial Center also encourages degree completion among these students by providing academic assistance to those enrolled in many 100- and 200-level math, chemistry, and physics courses, as well as writing and speaking support. In the past five years, the University Tutorial Center has diversified tutoring services by adding math and chemistry drop-in tutoring, along with academic support for the Summer Start program, which has resulted in a 20-percent increase in the number of students served.

Achievement Gaps in Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, NCSU will reduce by 50% the achievement gap in undergraduate degree efficiency between rural and non-rural students.

From NC State: Setting rural students up for success includes making changes in our academic policies to help close the aforementioned achievement gaps. NC State has improved policies regarding the continuation of undergraduate enrollmentsatisfactory academic progressundergraduate grade exclusion, and withdrawals. These policy changes were designed to promote student behaviors that are consistent with on-time graduation. We’ve also implemented initiatives for larger fall freshmen cohorts; more intentional paths to transfer into NC State from North Carolina community colleges; and a deferred spring admissions program where freshmen applicants are admitted if they delay their enrollment to the first spring semester after high school graduation. All of these initiatives are gradually helping to close an achievement gap for rural students.


Strong academics, student engagement, health and wellness services, and other support mechanisms ensure that NC State is producing graduates who are ready to make a real-world impact in their communities and around the globe. We provide all our students, regardless of income status, with unparalleled opportunities for a well-rounded experiential education, making them some of the most sought-after graduates in the country among potential employers. NC State’s success in supporting low-income completions by no means equates to complete satisfaction with our efforts. We will continue to sustain progress in this area and to lead the way in setting an example of providing an outstanding education for all.

Low-income Completions

By 2021-22, NCSU will produce 1,681 low-income graduates, an increase of 6.5% (102 additional low-income completions over a base of 1,579).

From NC State: We seek to ease the financial burden for low-income students, and we offer financial literacy programs like Dollars and Sense, with support from the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, to help students make better financial decisions while in school and after graduation. The Provost’s Professional Experience Program gives students the chance to earn income on-campus while simultaneously working on research and professional development. The program debuted in the 2015-2016 academic year in response to faculty advocating for more opportunities for students to work on campus, as on-campus jobs offer more flexibility and mentorship possibilities for students. By continuing to provide strong support to low-income students, we are fulfilling our land-grant mission and helping them complete a valuable college education.

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