Tracking the Progress of Black Student Graduation Rates at the Nation’s Leading Liberal Arts Colleges

Last week JBHE reported that all of the nation’s high-ranking universities had shown an improvement or held steady in their black student graduation rates over the past decade.

In 2009, 15 of the 22 high-ranked liberal arts colleges in our survey showed an improvement in black student graduation rates from their 1998 rates. At Oberlin College in Ohio, there was a huge 23 percentage point improvement in the decade from 56 percent to 79 percent. At Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, the black graduation rate has improved by 22 percentage points. At Macalester College in Minnesota, there was a 20 percentage point gain since 1998. At Smith College, the black student graduation rate improved by 17 percentage points over the past decade. At Bates College, Davidson College, Claremont McKenna College, and Swarthmore College, the black student graduation rate over the past decade improved by at least 10 percentage points.

Seven highly ranked liberal arts colleges saw a decline in their black student graduation rate over the past decade. The largest drop was at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. In 1998 the college posted a black graduation rate of 93 percent. This year the African-American student graduation rate stands at 80 percent.