Posted on November 21, 2005

The Black Student Acceptance Rate at the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Universities

Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Nov. 17

This fall 20 of the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities supplied data to JBHE on their black student acceptance rate. At 14 of these 20 universities the black student acceptance rate was higher than the acceptance rate for white students. In some cases the differences were substantial. For instance, at MIT the black student acceptance rate of 31.5 percent was more than twice as high as the 14.3 percent acceptance rate for all applicants. At the University of Notre Dame 48.5 percent of black students were accepted compared to 31.6 percent of all applicants. At the University of Virginia 58 percent of blacks were accepted whereas 37.1 percent of all applicants received notices of acceptance.

The reader should not assume that colleges and universities that accept a higher percentage of black applicants than they do white applicants are lowering their admissions standards in order to increase racial diversity. A particular college or university with a high black student acceptance rate may simply have had an outstanding pool of African-American applicants.

Six of the high-ranking universities we surveyed had black acceptance rates that were lower than the overall acceptance rate. At the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles, which were prohibited from taking race into account during the 2005 admissions process, the black student acceptance rate was significantly below the rate for whites. The black acceptance rate was also lower than the white rate at Washington University, Emory University, the University of Southern California, and Wake Forest University.

Last year for the first time since we began collecting black first-year enrollment figures, Harvard supplied JBHE with complete data on acceptance rates. Overall, in 2004 Harvard accepted 10.7 percent of all students who applied for admission. But black applicants stood a significantly better chance of being admitted. Nearly 17 percent of all black applicants to Harvard in 2004 were accepted. This year Harvard reverted to its previous level of reporting and declined to provide to JBHE its black student acceptance rate.