Enrollment nears 17,000; retention continues to rise

Photo of Baylor campus

Baylor University topped milestones for overall, graduate and undergraduate enrollment and again improved its freshman fall-to-fall retention and graduation rates, according to statistics from Baylor's Office of Institutional Research and Testing (IRT).

Second-largest freshman class sets all-time highs for academics, out-of-state enrollment

The official numbers for Baylor’s 2016 fall enrollment:

  • Record total of 16,959 students, surpassing last fall's enrollment record of 16,787 students
  • Record undergraduate enrollment of 14,348 students, up from 14,189 students in fall 2015
  • Continued strong diversity among the Baylor student body, with overall minority enrollment up to 34.6 percent in fall 2016 and first-year minority student enrollment at 34.2 percent, up from 33.5 percent in 2015
  • Graduate/professional enrollment of 2,611 students in the Graduate School, Truett Seminary, Baylor Law School, School of Social Work, the online MBA program in the Hankamer School of Business and Baylor/ U.S. Army affiliated degree programs
  • Baylor's freshman enrollment of 3,503 is the second-largest freshman class, behind only 2014's class of 3,625 first-year students. The academic preparedness of the 2016 freshman class also is the highest in university history.
  • The freshman Academic Index--a combination of high school rank, test scores and GPA--is 158.8 and continues the rise in Baylor freshman academic strength.
  • The majority of freshmen--62 percent, the largest ever--took the ACT and reported an average score of 28.1. For those students who reported an SAT score, the average this year was 1220.
  • 41.2 percent of this year's freshmen were in the top 10 percent of their high school class.
  • More than 28 percent of the freshman class reported a legacy connection to Baylor.
  • Out-of-state freshman enrollment increased to more than a third of the class--a record 35.7 percent--up from 33 percent in fall 2015. They represent 47 states and 27 countries.

"We are very pleased to see the message of Baylor University is reaching more students every day around the nation," said Jennifer Carron, associate vice president of undergraduate enrollment. "This class will enable our graduates to have a more far-reaching alumni base with whom to connect, leading them to better opportunities throughout their careers. As we expand our reach throughout the United States and the world, Baylor will continue to fulfill its mission to empower graduates to become worldwide leaders, expanding the caring, Christian community both at home and abroad."

Retention, Graduation Rates Rise

One of the most remarkable statistics involved the improvement in the university's retention and graduation rates. Over the past seven years, Baylor has improved its fall-to-fall retention among Baylor freshmen by nearly 9 percentage points. The latest retention rate from fall 2015 to fall 2016 increased to a record 89 percent among Baylor's first-time freshmen.

"It's tremendously rewarding to have hit this record high, putting Baylor on par with esteemed and nationally influential institutions. We are truly grateful for the amazing students who are the lifeblood of our community of faith and learning," said Dr. Sinda Vanderpool, associate vice provost for academic enrollment management at Baylor. "The rises in retention and graduation rates indicate that we are continuing to enhance our mentoring and support of an increasingly large and wonderfully diverse student body."

The retention rate among all Baylor undergraduates from fall 2015 to fall 2016 is 90.4 percent.

Baylor's graduation rates continue to move forward at a record pace. Preliminary data from IRT shows:

  • the four-year graduation rate among the fall 2012 cohort at a record 62.7 percent
  • the five-year graduation rate for the fall 2011 cohort at a record 74.9 percent
  • the six-year graduation rate for the fall 2010 cohort at 73.9 percent

"Thanks to the tremendous work of many faculty and staff, Baylor has now set a record five years in a row for freshman-to-sophomore retention. We've also set a record three years in a row for four-year graduation rates," said Dr. Wesley Null, vice provost for undergraduate education and professor in Baylor's School of Education and Honors College. "We still have a great deal of work to do to maintain this momentum and achieve our aspirations, but the tools and people are in place to continue the success we've seen. With the enrollment of another very strong class in fall 2016, we are well on our way to meeting, and indeed exceeding, the goals we've set as an institution."