11 Historically Black Schools With the Highest 4-Year Graduation Rates

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.

Many of the nation’s most prominent African American politicians earned their undergraduate degrees from historically Black colleges and universities, commonly known as HBCUs. These schools were established during the era of segregation in order to grant Black Americans academic opportunities they would otherwise have been denied due to discrimination.

HBCUs have a significant track record of educating influential Black leaders, including current newsmakers like U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who earned her bachelor’s from Howard University in Washington, D.C.; U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, who received his degree from Morehouse College in Georgia; and Stacey Abrams, founder of the voting rights organization Fair Fight, who is an alumna of Spelman College in Georgia.

For prospective students interested in attending one of the nation’s numerous HBCUs, there are many considerations to weigh, including which schools have a greater chance of putting them on the path to graduating in four years.

[Read: A Guide to HBCUs.]

Among the 41 ranked historically Black schools that provided this data to U.S. News in an annual survey, the average four-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time students who started in fall 2013 was around 22%. However, at each of the 11 HBCUs with the highest four-year graduation rates, including ties, more than 30% of first-year students graduated within four years.

Spelman College, which is the No. 1 school in the U.S. News rankings of HBCUs, had the highest four-year graduation rate: 68%. Among the 11 schools on this list, three are based in Georgia and two are located in South Carolina. Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia each have one school on the list.

[See: Top 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities.]

On the other end of the spectrum, nine HBCUs reported a four-year graduation rate below 10%.

How long it takes a student to graduate can depend on various factors. For instance, a student may elect to transfer to another school for a better fit, potentially increasing his or her time to graduation depending on how many credits are carried over.

Academic struggles, changing or adding majors, financial difficulties or other personal challenges can also play a role in whether a student is able to graduate in four years.

Below is a list of the 11 HBCUs with the highest four-year graduation rates among first-time, full-time students who started in fall 2013. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.

School name (state) 4-year graduation rate U.S. News HBCU rank
Spelman College (GA) 68% 1
Howard University (DC) 52% 2
Fisk University (TN) 50% 10
Hampton University (VA) 40% 5
Claflin University (SC) 39% 9
Xavier University of Louisiana 38% 3
Philander Smith College (AR) 35% 44 (tie)
Morehouse College (GA) 33% 6
Voorhees College (SC) 33% 50 (tie)
Clark Atlanta University 31% 15
Lincoln University (PA) 31% 20 (tie)

Don’t see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find graduation rates, complete rankings and much more. Sign up for the U.S. News Extra Help: College Admissions free email newsletter to receive expert advice twice a month.

U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2020 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data comes from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The graduation rate data above is correct as of Feb. 9, 2021.

More from U.S. News

Consider a College With a Focus on Minority Students

Diversity in College and Why It Matters

Consider Faculty Diversity When Applying to College

11 Historically Black Schools With the Highest 4-Year Graduation Rates originally appeared on usnews.com

Related Categories:

Latest News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up