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Philander Smith College Ranked Among HBCUs with the Highest Four-Year Graduation Rates in the Nation by U.S. News and World Report

Philander Smith College Ranked Among HBCUs with the Highest Four-Year Graduation Rates in the Nation by U.S. News and World Report

Little Rock, Ark. – Philander Smith College has been ranked seventh among 41 HBCUs in the nation for the highest four-year graduation rates among first-time, full-time students who started in fall 2013. This ranking was announced by the U.S. News (and World Report) Short List, that magnifies data points in specific areas for colleges and universities across the country. 

 “It is extremely rewarding to have Philander Smith College recognized on a national level for the outstanding work done by our faculty on an ongoing basis. Our mission is to graduate academically accomplished students, grounded as advocates for social justice, determined to change the world for the better,” said Dr. Roderick L. Smothers Sr., President of Philander Smith College. “This report is another confirmation that we are achieving our mission,” he added.

Among the 41 ranked historically Black schools that provided this data to U.S. News in an annual survey, the average four-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time students who started in fall 2013 was around 22%. However, at each of the 11 HBCUs with the highest four-year graduation rates, including ties, more than 30% of first-year students graduated within four years. Philander Smith College’s graduate rate is 35%.

Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer for Philander Smith College, Dr. Anthony B. Johnson  said, “ The Office for Academic Affairs and the faculty of the college support Philander Smith College's mission and strive to foster an environment that is intentional, corrective, and forward in student development. The graduation of our students is the culmination of an environment that includes a rigorous curriculum, co-curricular and experiential activities, undergraduate research and internships, and leadership and cultural studies.”

Many of the nation's most prominent African Americans earned their undergraduate degrees from historically Black colleges and universities, commonly known as HBCUs. These schools were established during the era of segregation to grant Black Americans academic opportunities they would otherwise have been denied due to discrimination. HBCUs have a significant track record of educating influential Black leaders.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the 15th Surgeon General of the United States and the first African American and the second female to head the U.S. Public Health Service; Lottie Shackleford, the first African American Mayor of Little Rock; and Robert Blue, former ExxonMobile executive and noted philanthropist are among many outstanding Philander alumni.  

According to U.S. News and World Report, how long it takes a student to graduate can depend on various factors. For instance, a student may elect to transfer to another school for a better fit, potentially increasing his or her time to graduation depending on how many credits are carried over. Academic struggles, changing or adding majors, financial difficulties or other personal challenges can also play a role in whether a student is able to graduate in four years.

For more information about the ranking, visit

Philander Smith College offers 20 undergraduate majors across five core academic divisions. For more information about admissions and enrollment, please visit  or call 501-370-5300. 


ABOUT U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT BEST COLLEGE RANKING: An annual set of rankings of American colleges and universities published by U.S. News & World Report beginning in 1983. They are the most widely quoted and respected of their kind in the United States. 

ABOUT PHILANDER SMITH COLLEGE:  Founded in 1877, Philander Smith College is one of the oldest private, historically Black institutions of higher learning in Arkansas. A four-year liberal arts college, the institution is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is the only United Negro College Fund member school in the state. The College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of NCA.