Skip to main content
Students return for the first day of classes

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s total enrollment is on track to be the largest on record, topping 31,000 students, as new and returning Vols start the 2021 fall semester. A huge factor in that growth comes from a record-breaking undergraduate enrollment of approximately 25,000 students.

“The fall semester always brings with it a certain kind of energy, and this year is extra special as our continuing students return to Rocky Top and we welcome the largest new incoming class in the university’s 227-year history,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman.

Although enrollment numbers aren’t final until the 14th day of the fall semester, more than 5,900 new first-year students are joining the Volunteer family, making up the largest first-year cohort on record and marking a 23 percent increase in new first-year enrollment over the past five years.

“This is a place students in Tennessee, across the country, and the world want to be,” said Plowman. “At the annual Torch Night ceremony this week, our first-year students took a Volunteer pledge to show the courage to care, to have big ideas, and to lead. From the moment our students step onto campus, they experience rich academic opportunities and learn how to make a positive impact at UT and beyond.”

Since 1925, Torch Night has been a right of passage for the incoming class of Volunteers. This year it was held inside Neyland Stadium.

New Vols gathered in a Power T on the field at Neyland Stadium for a class photo after Torch Night.

A Look at the Class of 2025

  • Members of this year’s first-year class hail from 88 counties in Tennessee and 44 states across the US, a testament to the number of students who want to call Rocky Top their home away from home.
  • More than 18 percent of first-year students are first-generation college students, reinforcing the university’s commitment to educational access.
  • Students of color make up more than 19 percent of the first-year class, representing a 30 percent increase among first-year students since 2016.
  • More than 95 percent of in-state first-year students qualify for the HOPE Scholarship and 90 percent receive some form of scholarship or financial aid, showcasing the university’s investment in its students.
  • Students in the middle 50 percent of the incoming class have ACT scores ranging from 25 to 31, with an average score of 28 for the new class.

More than 1,450 new transfer students and an expected 6,500 graduate and professional students are enrolling this fall, with increases in both graduate distance learning enrollment and graduate international enrollment.

“UT is a supportive environment with endless opportunities for students of all backgrounds to find what they love and create their own paths to acquire the knowledge and skills that employers want,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor John Zomchick. “Our students work and study with world-class faculty who are committed to their success.”

First-year and transfer students will be greeted with six weeks of programming to kick off their Volunteer experience. Big Orange Welcome—the final phase of orientation for incoming students—began August 13 and features hundreds of events for new students to explore all that UT has to offer.


Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993,