Howard University Jumps 21 Spots to No. 89 in US News Rankings


Nation’s premier HBCU achieves improvements in key ranking factors, including student retention and graduation rates

Updated US News PhotoWASHINGTON, D.C. – Howard University climbed 21 spots to No. 89 in the U.S. News & World Report latest 2019 rankings of the nation’s best universities, as evaluated on 16 measures of academic quality, including first-year student retention, graduation rates, strength of the faculty and alumni giving. 

The rankings, released today, is a continuation of the increase in national rankings the school has been experiencing and reflects a personal best in recent years for Howard University. A year ago, the institution recorded a 14–point improvement (No.110). The U.S. News rankings are based on assessments of more than 1,600 of the country’s four-year colleges and universities and will be included in the 2019 edition of America’s Best Colleges.

“Reaching No. 89 on the U.S. News and World Report rankings is a phenomenal achievement and it’s also a very strong endorsement that our strategy is working, that the University is progressing in the right direction. Our commitment remains on student outcomes and ensuring that students have the opportunity to succeed and ultimately graduate,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick. “The new rankings further reflect the academic rigor, quality programs and outstanding faculty at Howard University.”

Under Dr. Frederick’s tenure as president, several new programs were implemented to increase student’s ability to stay on track to graduation. In Fall 2014, only 60 percent of freshmen were taking enough credits to be considered sophomores (after a year in school). Now, the number has increased to 85.5 percent. Among those who aren’t taking 15 credits, more than 70 percent of those students already have transfer and/or AP credit, further increasing the number of students on track to reach an on-time graduation.

Students are encouraged to graduate early and on time with tuition rebate programs for those meeting the timely milestone. Students also have the opportunity to attend summer school tuition-free if they meet certain criteria. Additional supports include improvements in technology to enhance students’ ability to stay on track to graduation and the installation of an Office of Undergraduate Studies, primarily focused on advising, providing tutoring services and enhancing the student academic experience. The launch of the Bison STEM Scholars program is designed to recruit high achieving scholars and ultimately prepare them on a path to secure a PhD or MD/PhD. These efforts, focused on academic success and the student experience, have led to increased student retention and graduation rates.

U.S News recognized Howard in other major ranking categories. In the listing of Best Values Schools, Howard rose two spots to rank No. 73. In the listing of the Best Undergraduate Business Programs, Howard rose one spot to No. 127. The University was again ranked No. 2 among top historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs. Howard also made the list as an A+ School for B Students (No. 24).In the listing of the Best Undergraduate Business Programs, Howard ranked No. 132.

The largest factors contributing to the institution’s improved score this year are its increase in first-year student retention rate, which is above the national average, and its increased graduation rate was 8 percent higher than the anticipated rate. These factors, coupled with an increasing rate of alumni giving, increasing student SAT and ACT scores, and a freshman class of which 25 percent of the students hail from the Top 10 percent of their high school classes, helped boost Howard’s 2019 rank. Howard also received an increase in its reputational score among high school counselors. Howard maintained its institutional reputation score among presidents, provosts and deans of admission at peer schools.

New this year, U.S. News & World Report has factored in a school’s success at promoting “social mobility” by graduating students who received federal Pell Grants (those typically coming from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually). 

“Howard University in alignment with our mission has a long track record of proficiently graduating Pell Eligible students,” said Frederick. “We have a high population of Pell Eligible students, but if they don’t finish and get their degree, that defeats the purpose. We are committed to helping them succeed through a variety of focused tutoring programs and grant opportunities. We know that the measure of a student’s academic success in college is not based on their socio-economic status, but rather the access to opportunities and we applaud U.S News for acknowledging this important element in its methodology.”

The U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings consider the following categories: Undergraduate Academic Reputation, Student Selectivity, Faculty Resources, Graduation and Retention Rates, Financial Resources, Alumni Giving, and Graduation Rate Performance. For more information about U.S. News & World Report’s national university rankings, visit

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, two Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, over 70 Fulbright Scholars and 22 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit

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