Enrollment Nears 17,000; Retention Increases; Baylor Rises in U.S. News Rankings

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    Baylor students inside one of the University's newest academic facilities, the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation, home of the Hankamer School of Business. (Matthew Minard/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
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    Baylor students outside of the Baylor Sciences Building. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
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    Baylor commencement ceremony in the Ferrell Center. (Matthew Minard/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
Sept. 13, 2016

Second-largest freshman class sets all-time highs for academics, out-of-state enrollment; Baylor moves up to No. 71 in U.S. News rankings, tying its highest-ever ranking

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275

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WACO, Texas (Sept. 13, 2016) – 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).

The enrollment report follows today’s release of the 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings, in which Baylor moved up to No. 71 among National Universities, tying the University’s highest ranking ever from 2014.

Baylor is the fourth highest-ranked Texas university, behind only Rice (No. 15), SMU and the University of Texas at Austin (tied at No. 56) and ahead of Texas A&M (No. 74), TCU (No. 82), UT-Dallas (No. 146), Texas Tech (No. 176), University of Houston (No. 194) and Dallas Baptist (No. 214). (More highlights from the rankings are below, including undergraduate entrepreneurship moving into the top 10 for the first time and Baylor moving up 17 places as a Best College for Veterans.)

Fall Enrollment on the Rise

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
  • 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.
  • Diversity among first-year students remains strong with minority enrollment among the freshman class at 34.2 percent, up from 33.5 percent in 2015.
  • 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. Other than Texas, the top five states for freshmen are California (285), Colorado (99), Illinois (71), Arizona (42) and Tennessee (42).

“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 and Graduate 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 Sinda Vanderpool, Ph.D., 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.”

Previous gains in freshman retention have been:

  • 88.9 percent from fall 2014 to fall 2015
  • 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

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 Wesley Null, Ph.D., vice provost for undergraduate education and professor in the School of Education and the 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.”

U.S. News Rankings; Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Program Moves into Top 10

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

In addition to its No. 71 ranking, other 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. 56, followed by Baylor at No. 71, TCU at No. 82, Iowa State and Oklahoma at No. 111, Kansas at No. 118, Kansas State at No. 135, Oklahoma State at No. 152, Texas Tech at No. 176 and West Virginia at No. 183.
  • Baylor’s undergraduate business programs were ranked No. 63 nationally, while the business school’s undergraduate entrepreneurship program moved up from No. 13 to No. 9 overall, marking the first time this program has moved into the U.S. News top 10.
  • Baylor’s undergraduate engineering program, which now offers a Ph.D. program, was ranked No. 91.
  • Baylor moved up 17 places to No. 43 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.
  • Baylor is rated No. 56 in the U.S. News High School Counselor Rankings.

More information about the 2017 U.S. News can be found at www.usnews.com.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 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.

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