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 A&T has identified these contributions that N.C. A&T aspires to make to the UNC Strategic Plan over the next five years.


Low-income Completions

By 2021-22, N.C. A&T will produce 1,186 low-income graduates, an increase of 31.8% (286 additional low-income completions over a base of 900).


From N.C. A&T State University: North Carolina A&T declined slightly in 2018-19 in low-income completions from its initial-year performance of 1,008. But in 2019-20, the university came back strongly, adding 205 low-income completions to set a new institutional milestone of 1113.

The university’s continued growth at the undergraduate level and increases in academic profile includes not only expanding enrollment from rural areas, but the enrollment of more students from those areas prepared to succeed. With a classroom experience that has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report among its top 70 national universities for Best Undergraduate Teaching, the university is now within 73 graduates of hitting its 2021-22 stretch goal.

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Five-year Graduation Rates

By 2022, N.C. A&T will improve its five-year graduation rate from any accredited institution to 45.8%. This is an improvement over a base of 39.8% for N.C. A&T’s 2010 cohort.


From N.C. A&T State University: The university has focused significant resources over the past five years on improving four-, five- and six-year graduation rates, and experienced a second-consecutive year of upward movement that surpassed goal. The university’s five-year graduation rate of 51.3% is measured against a 2019-20 goal of 43.1% and is 2 percentage points higher than its first-year performance.

Already significantly outperforming its 2021-22 stretch goal of 45.8%, North Carolina A&T is interested in continuing to raise the bar in this area, with continued implementation of current and emerging best practices in instruction, advising, mentoring and technological support to ensure that our initial gains against the performance agreement represent the foundation upon which we further build.

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Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, N.C. A&T will improve its undergraduate degree efficiency to 18.8 over a base of 16.9.


From N.C. A&T State University: North Carolina’s growth in the efficiency with which it delivers undergraduate instruction not only surpassed its annual goal for the third consecutive year, but moved significantly past its five-year goal of 18.8. The score of 20 that the university earned in 2019-20 marked the first time it rose above the teens, and is promising in terms of what it signals for potential future improvement.

The standardization of curriculum guides, removal of non-essential coursework from many degree programs, expansion and improvement of academic advising and strengthening of preliminary degree audits have been critical to our initial success and should deliver further improvement, as the impact from those changes deepens across the university.

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Critical Workforces

By 2021-22, N.C. A&T will produce 892 critical workforce credentials, an increase of 14.1% (110 additional critical workforce credentials over a base of 782).

Critical Workforces

From N.C. A&T State University: North Carolina A&T’s third consecutive year of marked success in this category is a reflection of its strength in STEM education, programs which have a significant impact on the strategic development of the university. In 2019-20, it graduated 953 students in degree programs that define the critical workforce category against a goal of 843.

Our upward movement in this category represents growth of 13 percent since 2017-18. Clearly, North Carolina A&T is producing these graduates at a rate that has significant potential for this state, both in growth in raw numbers and in the richly diverse backgrounds that our graduates bring to the workforce.

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Research Productivity

By 2021-22, N.C. A&T will receive $70,051,550 in research and development sponsored program awards and licensing income, an increase of 18.2% ($10,800,000 additional over a base of $59,251,550).


From N.C. A&T State University: As a land grant university with significant interests in applied research, North Carolina A&T continues to build its sponsored programs, with increasing numbers of applications filed and the supermajority of its research funding coming from the highly competitive federal agency arena. Nevertheless, it came in below its performance agreement goal with a $59.1-million total for 2019-20, a year in which the final four months of the fiscal year were significantly interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A&T also appointed a new vice chancellor for Research and Economic Development, Dr. Eric Muth, midway through the academic year. Dr. Muth previously held the role of associate dean for research and graduate studies at Clemson University, and looks to rebound in this critical indicator of success as a research institution in 2020-21. 

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Low-income Enrollments

By fall 2021, N.C. A&T will enroll 5,048 low-income students, a 6.8% increase over 2015 levels (321 additional low-income students over a base of 4,727).

agricultural student

From N.C. A&T State University: North Carolina A&T rebounded from a slight decline of low-income student enrollment in 2018-19, showing an enrollment of 4,975 in 2019-20. That positions the university only 73 students below its stretch goal for 2021-22.

The university is ranked one of the country’s most affordable national universities, enjoys an exceptional return on investment and is ranked by SmartAsset as the top Best Value university in North Carolina’s Piedmont-Triad region. It continues to provide a value proposition that is extraordinarily attractive to low-income students who match our academic profile.

A&T’s recently completion of a comprehensive campaign in which it significantly surpassed goals for student financial support ensures that it will have the resources to assist those students in confronting challenges around costs-to-attend.

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Rural Enrollments

By fall 2021, N.C. A&T will enroll 2,422 rural students, a 6.8% increase over 2016 levels (154 additional rural students over a base of 2,268).


From N.C. A&T State University: North Carolina A&T’s enrollment of in-state, degree-seeking undergraduates from rural areas is another significant success story. Having surpassed its five-year target in the first year of the performance agreement, it now is home to 2,638 students from rural areas – eight more than the prior year and nearly 260 students over this year’s goal.

Even as high-school graduation rates plateau or decline across the state, we believe there is further room for growth for North Carolina A&T. 

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Rural Completions

By 2021-22, N.C. A&T will produce 537 rural graduates, an increase of 27.0% (114 additional rural completions over a base of 423).


From N.C. A&T State University: The university’s strength in rural enrollment is helping to drive a parallel surge in rural completions. In 2019-20, it recorded 511 such graduations, up from 441 the previous year and the most in the three years of the performance agreement.

Many of these graduates return to their hometown communities, contributing to the highly educated and extensively prepared workforce for these outlying areas, providing depth and enhancing competitiveness to the state economy.

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Achievement Gaps in Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, N.C. A&T will reduce by 50% the achievement gap in undergraduate degree efficiency between male and female students (increasing the degree efficiency of male students from 15.6 to 16.7).

Achievement Gaps

From N.C. A&T State University: Like most universities across the country, North Carolina A&T continues to confront a gender gap within its student population, with far greater numbers of women enrolling than men. The achievement gap between female and male students widened slightly in 2019-20 to 17.9%. Along with Research Productivity, this area represents an opportunity for significant improvement.

Strategies being implemented to increase student success in mathematics instruction are expected to have a disproportionately positive impact on male students, who have the most to gain from these new efforts, identified and put in place as part of the university’s preparation for accreditation review in early 2021. We look forward to better results in addressing these gaps in the current year and in years ahead.

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