Enrollment, Retention Continue to Rise

Burleson Quadrangle
Burleson Quadrangle on the Baylor campus. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
Sept. 16, 2015

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275

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WACO, Texas (Sept. 16, 2015) – Baylor University topped milestones for overall, graduate and undergraduate enrollment and achieved all-time highs for freshman and undergraduate fall-to-fall retention numbers, according to statistics from Baylor’s Office of Institutional Research and Testing.

The official numbers for Baylor’s 2015 fall enrollment:

    • Record total of 16,787 students, surpassing last fall’s enrollment record of 16,263 students

    • Record undergraduate enrollment of 14,189 students, up from 13,859 students in fall 2014

    • Continued strong diversity among the Baylor student body, with overall minority enrollment up to 34.4 percent in fall 2015

    • Graduate/professional enrollment of 2,598 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.

2015 Freshman Enrollment

Baylor’s freshman enrollment of 3,394 is the second-largest freshman class, behind only last year’s 3,625 first-year students. However, the 2015 freshman class is one of the highest academically prepared classes in the university’s history:

    • The Academic Index – a combination of high school rank, test scores and GPA – continues to rise and is at its highest point in university history.

    • The majority of freshmen – nearly 60 percent, the largest ever – took the ACT and reported an average score of 28, up a point from last year. (That score equals a 1260 on the SAT.) For those students who reported an SAT score, the average this year was 1230.

    • 42 percent of this year’s freshmen were in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

    • Diversity among first-year students remains strong with minority enrollment among Baylor’s freshman class at 34 percent in 2015.

    • Out-of-state freshman enrollment increased to a third of the class – 33 percent – up from 30 percent in fall 2014. They represent 46 states and 30 countries.

    • Nearly 31 percent of the freshman class, up from about 28 percent last year, reported a legacy connection to Baylor.

Fall-to-Fall Retention

Over the past six years, Baylor has improved its fall-to-fall retention among Baylor freshmen by a remarkable 7 percentage points. The latest retention rate from fall 2014 to fall 2015 increased to a record 88.9 percent among Baylor’s first-time freshmen.

“Continued and substantial gains over a sustained period in fall-to-fall freshman retention are unusual for an institution of Baylor’s size. However, to have hundreds of additional students in the fall 2014 freshman class and to be able to have another record-breaking retention number is something that the Baylor community can be very proud of,” said Sinda K. Vanderpool, Ph.D., associate vice provost for academic enrollment management at Baylor. “During the summer of 2014, when we saw that we were going to have a large class, we began reaching out to departments across campus. I remember being literally astounded by how responsive and happy departments were to help meet the needs of the incoming class.”

Previous gains in freshman retention have been:

    • 88.5 percent from fall 2013 to fall 2014

    • 88.2 percent from fall 2012 to fall 2013

    • 86.6 percent from fall 2011 to fall 2012

    • 85.4 percent from fall 2010 to fall 2011

    • 81.9 percent from fall 2009 to fall 2010

In addition, the retention rate among all Baylor undergraduates from fall 2014 to fall 2015 improved a half-percentage point to 90.9 percent.

“To have seen the growth for five consistent years in retention means that we are doing something right,” Vanderpool said. “A lot of pieces – from honing our New Student Experience program to being more intentional about how we engage our first-generation college students – have come together in the past few years. It is a good time to be a Baylor Bear, and I am proud to say that we are all coming together to wrap our arms around our newest students in more intentional ways than ever.”

U.S. News Rankings

The enrollment report follows the Sept. 9 release of the 2016 U.S. News & World Report rankings, in which Baylor was rated No. 72 among National Universities.

Schools in the National Universities category offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master's and doctoral programs, and also are committed to producing groundbreaking research.

Among the highlights for Baylor in this year’s U.S. News ranking:

    • Baylor is the second-highest ranked university in the Big 12. The University of Texas at Austin is the highest at No. 52.

    • Baylor is the fifth-highest ranked university in Texas. The top five are Rice (No. 18), UT (No. 52), SMU (No. 61), Texas A&M (No. 70) and Baylor (No. 72).

    • Baylor is rated No. 46 in the U.S. News High School Counselor Rankings.

    • Baylor’s high school counselor score is 4.1, the University’s best since U.S. News began using the metric in 2010.

    • Baylor’s undergraduate business programs were ranked No. 61 nationally, while the business school’s undergraduate entrepreneurship program was rated No. 14 overall.

    • Baylor’s undergraduate engineering program was ranked No. 12.

    • Baylor debuted at No. 60 among national universities in the Best Colleges for Veterans ranking. U.S. News rates universities based on their participation in federal initiatives helping veterans and active-duty service members pay for their degrees.

Other data highlights from Baylor’s latest U.S. News ranking:

    • 87 percent freshman retention rate over a four-year period – highest since 2009

    • Baylor’s two-year average alumni giving rate jumped to 18 percent, up from 15 percent in 2014.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

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