Comparing Black and White Graduation Rates at the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Colleges and Universities

Five of the nation’s highest-ranked colleges and universities actually report a higher graduation rate for black students than for white students. According to the latest statistics from Mount Holyoke College, Pomona College, Smith College, Wellesley College, and Macalester College, 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.

At some institutions the difference in black and white graduation rates is very small. Washington University in St. Louis has a 90 percent graduation rate for both blacks and whites. At Wake Forest University and Wesleyan University, the white student graduation rate is only one percentage point higher than the rate for blacks. At Amherst College, Harvard University, and Oberlin College, the difference is only two percentage points.

But the small gap in black and white graduation rates does not exist at all of our highest-ranked institutions. In fact, 16 of the 56 colleges in a recent JBHE analysis have a black graduation rate that is 10 percentage points or more below the graduation rate for white students. There are four high-ranking colleges and universities with at least a 20 percentage point gap. They are Colby College, Carleton College, Bates College, and the University of Michigan.

Copyright © 2006. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.