What’s the difference?: Admins break down the differences between WSU Tech and Wichita State University


Mia Hennen

WSU and WSU Tech are two separate institutions with a similar mission.

WSU Tech is often thought of as an extension of Wichita State, but, although they share the same mission, the institutions offer different benefits based on students’ needs. 

“We’re all working towards making sure that we are creating a very educated population for Wichita, South Central Kansas and the state of Kansas and this region of the United States,” Sheree Utash, WSU Tech president and WSU workforce development vice president, said. 

WSU and WSU Tech have a shared mission and philosophy for their students. Both institutions want to make sure each student gets an opportunity to work with businesses and industries to make sure they get hands-on experience.

“The emphasis on applied learning that Wichita State University started, has been so engaged in, WSU Tech is following that lead and holding ourselves more accountable to make sure we’re providing those same kind of opportunities to our career and education students,” Utash said.

While their missions are similar, both institutions offer different benefits for students. 

WSU Tech offers two-year programs, technical certificates and associate’s degrees, whereas WSU offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

“We do know that a large number of students that start at WSU Tech are doing so because they can accomplish a lot of the gen eds, for example, at a lower cost,” Lefever said. “Some of the students who start with WSU Tech, know that they want to get an associate’s in ‘X,’ and they’re less sure that they want to get a bachelor’s degree.”

As of fall 2022, enrollment at WSU is over four times higher than enrollment at WSU Tech. According to WSU Strategic Communications, WSU enrollment last fall was 16, 921, while WSU Tech was at 5,021.

According to Lefever, the institutions are funded separately and WSU Tech does not affect the tuition rates for Wichita State. 

“We can work together to recruit students and to put some pathways in place so that students can earn as many credits as they want at WSU Tech, and then those credits transfer over seamlessly to WSU,” Lefever said.

For the 2023 fiscal year, Wichita State’s cost ranges from $228.09-540.27 per credit hour for undergraduates. As of the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year, WSU Tech general education courses were $85 per credit hour with an additional $41 fee per credit hour.

David Wright, chief data officer and senior data scientist, said that the Institutional Research Office at WSU purposely keeps the two institutions separate when reporting numbers to the state and the feds. 

“There’s nothing that I report for WSU that would be impacted by WSU Tech other than the fact that we do have students who transfer from WSU Tech to us,” Wright said. “We can report them back to WSU Tech for their ability to know where their students are going.” 

Wright has also said that when it comes to transfer students, WSU Tech is just like any other institution in its database. 

“To me, there’s no problem with the data that we pull,” Wright said. “It’s not affected by WSU Tech anymore than it would be affected by Butler Community College, Purdue University or K-State.” 

Lefever believes that there are a lot of opportunities for the affiliation between the two institutions on the horizon. 

“We’re getting more and more places where we get the students dually admitted so there’s students at both institutions from day one,” Lefever said. “I think that’s kind of intriguing and trying to think about how we can serve our students.”