Spelman College is a virtual behemoth when it comes to the annual ranking of historically Black colleges and universities in the United States.

SpelmanCollege Twitter Photo

Spelman College (Twitter Photo)

U.S. News and World Report recently released its 2017 ranking of best colleges and universities in the nation, including within categories such as best national universities, best college for veterans, best public schools, best national liberal arts colleges, and best HBCUs.

The listing is determined by up to 15 measures of academic quality, including quantitative measures such as student retention and graduation rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. 

And, as it has for the past few years, Spelman—a private, very selective liberal arts college for women—again dominated the HBCU field in 2017.  The Atlanta campus has a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,144, a student-to-instructor ratio of 10-to-1 and a 69 percent graduation rate. Notable alumnae include, Audrey F. Manley, the former surgeon general of the United States; Maj. Gen. Marcelite J. Harris, the first African-American female general of the U.S. Air Force and Alice Walker, author of “The Color Purple.”

Beginning with Spelman’s place at the top of the list, the U.S. News top five HBCU ranking remains unchanged with Howard University in Washington, D.C., coming in second; Hampton University in Virginia staying steady at third, Atlanta’s Morehouse College holding it down in fourth place and Tuskegee University in Alabama rounding it out at fifth place.

Not counting Xavier University, of New Orleans, which stayed firm at sixth place, the remainder of this year’s top 10 did see some reshuffling.  Florida A&M University, of Tallahassee, Fla., moved up three spots from 10th place to seventh. Fisk University, a private HBCU in Nashville, Tenn., moved down one rung to eighth place. And, Claflin University, of Orangeburg, S.C., and North Carolina A&T State University, of Greensboro, N.C., each moved down one spot to ninth and 10th places, respectively.

Among Maryland- and D.C.-area schools, Morgan State University ranked 20th among national HBCUs, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore came in at 22nd and Bowie State University was 26th. The rankings of Baltimore’s Coppin State University and the University of the District of Columbia were not published–which usually happens when a school’s ranking falls into the bottom 25 percent of the category.

To be considered for this ranking, a school must be currently designated as an HBCU by the U.S. Department of Education, and also must be an undergraduate baccalaureate-granting institution that enrolls primarily first-year, first-time students. Eighty institutions qualified for this year’s assessment.

The annual ranking, which U.S. News and World Report has published since 1983, is intended to help students worldwide compare the academic quality of more than 1,800 U.S.-based schools to best determine their scholastic path.

“I encourage parents and students to use the wealth of data and information in Best Colleges to identify schools that suit their specific needs,” said Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News. “In addition to considering factors like location and cost, families should pay close attention to graduation and retention rates. These are important indicators of how well a school supports its students both academically and financially. Getting into a good school means nothing if you cannot graduate.”