USF Ranks High for Minority Graduation Rates

Studies show USF continues to make strides in awarding degrees to students from underrepresented groups.


By Kevin Burke

Special to USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 2, 2012) — Recent surveys by The Education Trust and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education reaffirm the University of South Florida’s standing as one of the top universities in the country awarding baccalaureate degrees to minority students each year.


For 2012, Diverse — the nation’s leading source for news, information, analysis, and commentary on issues concerning diversity in American higher education — ranks USF 28th among all U.S. colleges and universities, public or private, in granting undergraduate diplomas to minority students in all disciplines. The rankings are based on data for the 2010-11 academic year, as reported by the various institutions to the U.S. Department of Education.


According to the Diverse study, of all USF bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2010-11, more than 2,300 or 34 percent were earned by students identified as either African American, Asian American, Hispanic or Native American — an increase of 11 percent from the previous year.


The university ranks even higher nationally in terms of degrees awarded specifically to African American students (#13; up three spots from 2009-10) and Hispanics (#24; up six places from the previous year).


The Diverse analysis indicates that 12 percent of all USF graduates in 2010-11 were African American, a rise of six percent from 2009-10, while 15 percent were categorized as Hispanic, a jump of 22 percent compared to a year earlier.


USF also places among the nation’s Top 100 producers of baccalaureate degrees conferred upon Asian American (#55) and Native American students (#83).


Drilling down to the level of individual degree programs, meanwhile, the Diverse survey reveals USF as among the best in the country at enabling student success within certain ethnic classes, ranking the university in the Top 20 in 15 disciplines including:

·         bachelors’ degrees in biological and biomedical sciences earned by African American (#4) and Hispanic students (#8)

·         bachelor’s degrees in finance and financial management services to African American (#5) and Hispanic students (#12), and

·         bachelor’s degrees in engineering to Hispanic students (#17)


The findings from Diverse come close on the heels of a September report by The Education Trust that ranks USF 18th among the nation’s Top 25 gainers in black student graduation rates for public colleges and universities between 2004 and 2010, and 11th among public institutions in closing the graduation rate gap between black students and their white classmates during the same span.


That survey — “Advancing to Completion: Increasing degree attainment by improving graduation rates and closing gaps for African American students” — documents that while six-year graduation rates for African American students nationally stagnated at around 41 percent for the study period, USF boosted its six-year graduation rate for black students from 41.9 percent in 2004 to 56.5 percent in 2010. Overall, the national graduation rate for bachelor’s degree-seeking students during those years rose only marginally, from 57.3 percent to 60.1 percent.


As a result of its progress raising the graduation rate of black students, USF also sealed a 4.9 percentage point gap that existed between black students and their white peers at USF in 2004 (41.9% vs. 46.8%), to the extent that African American students now graduate from the university at a higher rate than their white counterparts (56.5% vs. 50.8%).


“The conclusions of these two studies add to the growing amount of evidence that the university is gaining ground on its strategic objective of improving graduation rates, at the same time we are preserving student access and expanding opportunity” said Paul Dosal, USF’s vice provost for student success. “As the university begins the process of developing its new strategic plan for 2013-2018, everyone associated with USF should feel encouraged by these achievements and excited about the possibilities for the future.”