Black Enterprise Magazine’s Bizarre Rankings of the Nation’s Colleges and Universities

Every two years Black Enterprise magazine publishes its list of the “Top 50 Colleges for African Americans.” This year, it rated Spelman College in Atlanta as the best college for blacks. Howard University, Morehouse College, and Hampton University ranked in the next three spots. Georgetown University, in fifth position, was the highest-ranked predominantly white institution.

Fisk University, a historically black university with a distinquished tradition, ranked in eighth position in the Black Enterprise survey. Yet, the college is in dire financial straits. It has an overall graduation rate of 64 percent. Yet Fisk is rated a better college for African Americans than Harvard University or Amherst College! Both Harvard and Amherst were ranked No. 1 as the best colleges in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. Also, Harvard and Amherst have highly diverse student bodies and black student graduation rates greater than 90 percent.

Black Enterprise ranks Dillard University in New Orleans in 30th position despite the fact that the university was recently placed on probation by its accreditor, its enrollments are down since Hurricane Katrina, and its graduation rate is under 50 percent. Dillard is ranked higher by Black Enterprise than Duke, Berkeley, and the University of Virginia.

The Black Enterprise rankings are highly inconsistent with the magazine’s own past rankings. For example, in 2004 Morehouse College in Atlanta was rated by Black Enterprise magazine as the best college in America for African Americans. Two years later, Morehouse was ranked by Black Enterprise as the 45th best college for blacks. This year Morehouse is back up to third. In 2004 Xavier University in New Orleans, which turns out more blacks for U.S. medical schools than any other undergraduate institution in the nation, was ranked fifth in the Black Enterprise survey, higher than any predominantly white college or university in the United States. In 2006 the university didn’t even make the top 50 in the Black Enterprise rankings. Now Xavier is ranked 17th.

In 2006 Florida A&M University was ranked as the best college for blacks. Now it has dropped all the way to 18th position.

These extremely inconsistent results raise serious doubts about the reliability of the latest effort by Black Enterprise magazine to identify the 50 best colleges for African Americans.