Strategic Plan

WFU Strategic PlanWake Forest: The Collegiate University


An interested faculty member who takes extra time to engage an inquisitive or uncertain student; a seminar that focuses on the real estate crisis, not only from the business context but also from interdisciplinary approaches in ethics, politics, sociology, and the law; an alumna prepared to work as an experienced citizen in the global economy and also lead her organization’s community volunteer efforts; an elated high school senior who will become the first in his family to attend college—the college that is his dream—thanks to a generous scholarship; a graduate student in biology whose collaborative research with a medical school professor is presented at a major conference: these potential scenarios from Wake Forest’s future grow from longstanding values passionately held by the University’s students, alumni, faculty, staff, and parents; and they reflect the priorities of Wake Forest University’s new strategic plan.

In shaping this plan, the University recognizes that society, indeed the world, hungers for leaders who are superbly educated; who care deeply about the complex international issues that are linked in unprecedented networks; and who count service to others as a life principle. As was true in every climactic moment of the past, leadership will emerge from institutions of higher learning, yet few institutions are capable of responding fully to these extraordinary societal needs. Many universities have created silos of talented people who cannot work together. Many offer students good training but not education, and many have faculty whose time is focused on ever-narrowing fields of study.

And then there is Wake Forest.

That Wake Forest is a unique institution is not news to those who know it best. For years, its people have flourished in the midst of dualities, holding in creative tension that which is often separated. The University has integrated the intimacy of a college with the academic vitality of a research university. Wake Forest has adhered to the teacher-scholar ideal in recruiting faculty. Wake Forest has been shaped by a culture that is distinctly North Carolinian; and at the same time, it has emerged as a national university with international networks. A rich religious heritage is present within a climate of academic freedom and an unfettered search for truth. The size of the University ensures personal attention to individuals while fostering the bold ambitions of a major institution. Its model is rare in higher education.

What is a collegiate university?

From this compelling academic setting, Wake Forest has emerged as the leading collegiate university: a place where essential questions and contemporary issues are studied and debated in an environment of intellectual freedom and humane concern, within and across all disciplines; and a place where undergraduate liberal arts curricula and graduate and professional school programs are mutually enriched by collaboration and mentoring. Its size gives Wake Forest the ability to create rich interdisciplinary programs: the University can produce great educational outcomes precisely because it is small enough that all know one another, to forge strong links among its schools and departments, creating academic benefits for students and faculty that are challenging for larger, less personal universities to match. Professors who are teachers, scholars, and mentors lead their students to engage in a community of learning. Intellectual life is balanced by diverse programs that encourage service to others and opportunities for students to participate in a variety of social and civic activities, as well as intercollegiate athletics.

Wake Forest’s motto, Pro Humanitate, guides the University’s intellectual and co-curricular pursuits. The collegiate university that Wake Forest can be will grow from these deeply-held values. In creating a new strategic plan, Wake Forest has engaged students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents in acquiring a better understanding of themselves, their distinct place in the broad mosaic of American higher education, and where they want to go in a competitive and swiftly-changing academic landscape. The world is not standing still, and neither will Wake Forest. It will set its own course, refusing inertia on the one hand, and the undertow of trendiness on the other.

As it has for decades, Wake Forest will stand apart. Rich in the traditions of rigorous education across all its schools, nimble in its pursuits, and inspiring in its impact, Wake Forest is a model for a knowledge-driven society where a community spirit enriches intellectual endeavors.

Overarching priorities of the collegiate university

The components of Wake Forest’s new strategic plan are linked to four overarching priorities that emerged as it studied its strengths and challenges. These priorities are critical to the vitality of each constituent school and department as well as to the University as an entity.

  • The collegiate university builds exceptional faculty student engagement.
  • The collegiate university sustains a tradition of opening new doors for educational opportunity.
  • The collegiate university reinforces the connections between the liberal arts and the professions.
  • The collegiate university educates the whole person, mind, body and spirit, and helps students find their place in the world.

A complete summary of the Wake Forest Strategic Plan is available at

The Academic Program

Wake Forest is a collegiate university that balances the personal attention of a liberal arts college with the academic vitality and broad opportunities of a research university. At the heart of Wake Forest is the teacher-scholar ideal. In small classrooms and cutting-edge research labs, professors practice their art with keen interest in students and their lives.

Wake Forest College

Wake Forest College combines the intimacy of a small liberal arts school with the academic vitality of a research university. It is distinguished by its small size and collegiate atmosphere; outstanding faculty of teacher-scholars; and adherence to a values-based educated rooted in Pro Humanitate. The College offers the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degree in a wide range of disciplines.

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers 27 nationally and internationally recognized master’s and doctoral programs on the Reynolda and Bowman Gray campuses. The Graduate School also offers an MD/PhD and MD/MS with the School of Medicine; a PhD/MBA with the Babcock Graduate School of Management; the MDiv/MA with the School of Divinity; and degrees in biomedical engineering through the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical

Engineering and Sciences.

School of Business

The School of Business strives to develop passionate and ethical business leaders who get results with integrity and through providing thought leadership that advances the practice of management. As a result, the Wake Forest University School of Business has been ranked among the nation’s best business schools by most major ranking organizations. With a full range of undergraduate and graduate business degree programs, the School of Business offers many options to pursue one’s graduate business degree. It offers full-time and 8 part-time study in Winston-Salem (main campus) and part-time study, including a Saturday program, through its Charlotte campus.

School of Divinity

The School of Divinity, distinguished by its interdisciplinary approach, is one of only five divinity schools at a major university in the country with no formal denominational affiliation. It is a graduate professional school that is Christian by tradition, Baptist in heritage, and ecumenical in outlook. The School of Divinity offers the master of divinity degree, but it has dual-degree programs in law, bioethics, and counseling with other schools of the University. The master of divinity program encourages students to explore the rich histories and traditions of Christianity, to understand the changing social and religious landscape of these times, and to gain awareness and practical experience of the issues facing churches in their local and global contexts. The School of Divinity offers concentrations in well-being and religious leadership that emphasize care of creation, personal and communal spirituality and ethics, individual and communal health, and the common good. The school also has close ties to the Pastoral Care Department of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Graduates of the School of Divinity serve in many types of Christian ministry in addition to being pastors, most notably in chaplaincy and social justice and advocacy ministries.

School of Law

The School of Law, annually ranked among the top 50 law schools in the country, offers a unique, close family atmosphere that combines traditional legal courses with an array of experiential learning opportunities through clinics and externships.

School of Medicine

The School of Medicine is among the top 32 schools in the country in research funding awarded by the National Institutes of Health. The medical school offers the doctor of medicine degree; a physician assistant program leading to a master of medical science; the MD/MBA with the Babcock Graduate of Management; and a number of master’s and doctoral programs in biomedical sciences. The School of Medicine and N.C. Baptist Hospital comprise Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

The Student Body (Fall 2015)

Applicants for first-year admission: 13,281

Freshmen accepted/enrolled: 3,851/1,271

Total undergraduate enrollment: 4,871

Graduate and professional schools: 2,966

Total University enrollment: 7,837

Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $49,308

Room/Board: $13,404

Faculty to Student Ratio: 1:10

Undergraduate Attendance Status:

Full-time:: 99%

Part-time: 1%

Undergraduate Student Gender:

Female 53%

Male: 47%

Undergraduate Race/Ethnicity (Fall 2015)

White 72%

Hispanic/Latino  7%

Black or African  6%

Asian  5%

Two or more  3%

Non-resident  7%

Undergraduate Retention & Graduation Rates (Fall 2015)

Retention Rate 93%

Graduation Rate 88%