UWF reaches milestone with record number of first-year and graduate applications

The University of West Florida has received a record-breaking number of First-Time-In-College and graduate school applications for the 2023 Summer and Fall semesters. For the first time in the University’s history, first-year applications surpassed the 10,000 mark and graduate school applications increased to more than 6,400. The record comes amid a nationwide trend of higher education institutions struggling to regain pre-pandemic enrollment numbers.

One factor driving the demand at UWF is its growing presence as a first-choice university on national, regional and state levels. UWF ranked “Best Regional Universities South” and “Top Public Schools – Regional Universities South” for the fourth consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report. The University also was named a Gold-level Military Friendly® School, “Best Colleges for Veterans” by U.S. News and World Report and Military Times, and was listed in the “Great Colleges to Work For” by The Chronicle of Higher Education for the tenth year. 

Additionally, undergraduate tuition at Florida’s public universities is the lowest in the country, and U.S. News & World Report ranked Florida as No. 1 for tuition and fees and the No. 1 state for higher education overall since the rankings began in 2017.

UWF President Martha D. Saunders said the numbers only tell part of the story. “UWF offers the programs, resources and opportunities of a large university, with small class sizes and personalized attention from world-renowned professors,” Saunders said. “We have become known for providing a high-impact, learner-focused education that prepares our students for personal and professional success. It is what sets us apart from other universities.”

Another signal of the University’s success is its growing number of high-achieving students. UWF has welcomed 11 National Merit Scholarship Finalists in six years and is home to the renowned Kugelman Honors Program.

“In addition to UWF’s nationally-competitive academic programs, we have created a robust talent pipeline by actively partnering with the business community as part of our commitment to the region’s economic growth,” said Provost and Senior Vice President Dr. Gary Liguori. “By focusing on emerging and in-demand industries such as engineering, cybersecurity and nursing, we strengthen students’ career preparation and provide the workforce with highly-skilled graduates.”

As competition for first-year spots at UWF has continued to intensify, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has implemented a number of improvements that have enhanced support services offered to prospective students from their first contact with the University and has streamlined the application process.

“UWF continues to attract a highly accomplished applicant pool, composed of scholars who are ready to tackle challenges and change the world,” Liguori said. “That kind of talent makes admission selection decisions very tough, especially when the pool grows larger every year.”

For Pace High School graduate Caleb Smith, the electrical engineering and intelligent systems and robotics programs at UWF made the University his solid first choice. “I was already familiar with UWF from participating in its Emerald Coast BEST Robotics program for high school students, and had interacted with faculty and students during those workshops,” Smith said. “UWF was also appealing to me because of its undergraduate research opportunities and the possibility to intern through UWF’s partnership with the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition in the future.”  

UWF President Martha D. Saunders said none of UWF’s milestones would be possible without the hard work and commitment of the University’s talented leaders, faculty and staff. “They possess a passion that reflects the true heart of UWF,” Saunders said. “They are the driving force behind UWF’s unprecedented growth and the reason it is distinguished as a first-choice university for students.”

This fall, UWF is projected to have the highest overall enrollment in its 56-year history.

For more information about UWF admissions, visit