Grand Canyon University will begin the 2021-22 academic year with the largest incoming class in its history, three new apartment-style residence halls, additional classroom space and students anxious to return to the community atmosphere the university is known for.

The private Christian university expects 9,000 new students when the fall semester begins Sept. 7, bringing total campus-based enrollment to approximately 23,500. An additional 90,000+ working adult students are attending GCU’s online campus.

“Even during a pandemic, we continue to see increases in enrollment due to our academic excellence, affordable tuition rates and the community culture of a private Christian education experience,” said GCU President Brian Mueller. “We are closely monitoring COVID-19 and its effect on our campus daily, but are very encouraged by how we finished both the spring semester as well as summer classes related to the coronavirus and the new Delta variant.”

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At the end of the 2020-21 academic year, when vaccines became available, GCU had less than 5 active COVID cases in each of the last six weeks of the spring semester. And during summer school, with the rise of the Delta strain, the University saw an average of only 1 active case per week among students – none with serious symptoms.

GCU is highly encouraging students to receive the vaccination or wear a face covering if they are not vaccinated, but neither vaccines nor masks are currently required in most areas on campus. “We are confident, given our experience and expertise in online learning modalities, we can quickly adjust our health and safety protocols both inside and outside the classroom if needed,” Mueller said. “But our plan is to reopen the campus without restrictions in the fall.”

The 2021-22 school year marks the 13th straight year GCU will have frozen tuition rates on its Phoenix campus.

READ ALSOGCU freezes tuition for 13th year

The start of school also brings three new apartment-style residence halls to the east side of campus in a complex known as The Rivers – six-story Salt, Verde and Agua Fria dormitories (named after Arizona rivers) that house an additional 1,800 students, bringing the total number of residence halls on campus to 27 and the total number of beds to approximately 16,000. The Rivers residence halls are surrounded by a 2,800-space parking garage, swimming pool, indoor-outdoor fitness center, indoor-outdoor gaming area, the Grand Canyon Beverage Company (GCBC) café and social gathering spot, Panera Bread restaurant and Nektar juice bar. The residence halls feature suites with four single-occupancy bedrooms that share a common living area, kitchen and two bathrooms.

GCU’s residence halls are rated No. 6 out of 1,392 schools in the country by based on student surveys, affordability and safety.

Three recently-purchased buildings along Camelback Road have also been renovated and will provide an additional 45,000 square feet of classrooms, offices, study areas, meeting spaces and gathering areas for veterans and international students.

At a glance

Campus Enrollment: 23,500 (up from less than 1,000 traditional-age students in 2008)

2021 Incoming Class: More than 9,000 new students

Students Living on Campus: 16,000 in 27 residence halls

2021 Average Incoming GPA: 3.6 for fully admissible students

Honors College Average Incoming GPA: 4.1 (Honors College now has more than 2,700 students)

Tuition Freeze: 13 straight years on ground campus, with only nominal increases in online tuition during that time

Best College Campuses in America: No. 18 out of 1,417 in rankings

Best College Dorms in America: No. 6 out of 1,392 in rankings

Average Class Size: Less than 25 students

Academic Offerings: More than 270 degrees, emphases and certificates are offered in nine different colleges