High-Ranking Colleges and Universities That Graduate Black and White Students at Nearly Identical Rates

A strong case can be made that a better way of comparing the performance of the nation’s highest-ranked colleges and universities in successfully graduating black students is to examine the difference in the graduation rates between their black and white students.

Many academics and administrators will be surprised to hear that there are in fact a few selective colleges in the United States that report a higher graduation rate for blacks than for whites. Six of the nation’s highest-ranked colleges and universities actually have a higher graduation rate for black students than for white students. According to JBHE’s latest statistics from Mount Holyoke College, Pomona College, Smith College, Wellesley College, Wake Forest University, and the California Institute of Technology, a black student on these campuses is more likely to complete the four-year course of study and receive a diploma than is a white student.

Also encouraging is the fact that the black student graduation rate is identical to the rate for white students at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. This is good news because Vanderbilt has been able to reach racial parity in student graduation rates during a period in which it has greatly increased black enrollments.

At some other high-ranking educational institutions the difference in black and white graduation rates is very small. Washington University in St. Louis has a 90 percent graduation rate for black students, just one percentage point below its rate for whites. At Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, the white student graduation rate is only one percentage point higher than the rate for blacks, which stands at 88 percent. At Harvard University, Claremont McKenna College, and Macalester College, the racial difference is only two percentage points.