The results from this HBCU peer survey were different than those used in the 2013 Best Colleges rankings. A total of 240 HBCU peer assessment surveys were sent out, and 31.3 percent responded. Ipsos Public Affairs, an international market research firm, collected the data.
Retention (25 percent): The higher the proportion of freshmen who return to campus the following year and eventually graduate, the more likely a school is offering the classes and services students need to succeed. This measure has two components: six-year graduation rate (80 percent of the retention score) and freshman retention rate (20 percent).
The graduation rate indicates the average proportion of a graduating class who earn a degree in six years or less; we consider freshman classes that started from fall 2002 through fall 2005. Freshman retention indicates the average proportion of freshmen entering each fall from 2007 through 2010 who returned the following fall.
Faculty resources (20 percent): Research shows that the more satisfied students are about their contact with professors, the more they will learn and the more likely it is that they will graduate. We use six factors from the 2011-2012 academic year to assess a school's commitment to instruction. Class size has two components: the proportion of classes with fewer than 20 students (30 percent of the faculty resources score) and the proportion with 50 or more students (10 percent of the score). In our model, a school benefits more for having a large proportion of classes with fewer than 20 students and a small proportion of large classes.
Faculty salary (35 percent) is the average faculty pay, plus benefits, during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 academic years, adjusted for regional differences in the cost of living (using indexes from the consulting firm Runzheimer International). We also weigh the proportion of professors with the highest terminal degree in their fields (15 percent), the student-faculty ratio (5 percent), and the proportion of faculty who are full time (5 percent).
Student selectivity (15 percent): A school's academic atmosphere is determined in part by the abilities and ambitions of the student body. We therefore factor in test scores of enrollees on both the Critical Reading and Math portions of the SAT and the Composite ACT score (50 percent of the selectivity score); the proportion of enrolled freshmen who graduated in the top 25 percent of their high school classes (40 percent); and the acceptance rate, or the ratio of students admitted to applicants (10 percent). The data are for the fall 2011 entering class.
U.S. News believes that using both SAT and ACT test scores for all students who submitted test scores improves the methodology since it's a much more comprehensive measure and better way to compare the entire entering class between schools.
Financial resources (10 percent): Generous per-student spending indicates that a college can offer a wide variety of programs and services. U.S. News measures financial resources by using the average spending per student on instruction, research, student services, and related educational expenditures in the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years. Spending on sports, dorms, and hospitals doesn't count; we only consider the part of a school's budget that goes toward educating students.
Alumni giving rate (5 percent): The average percentage of living alumni with bachelor's degrees who gave to their school during 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 is an indirect measure of student satisfaction.
To arrive at a school's rank, we first calculated the weighted sum of its scores. The final scores were rescaled: The top school in each category was assigned a value of 100, and the other schools' weighted scores were calculated as a proportion of that top score. Final scores for each ranked school were rounded to the nearest whole number and ranked in descending order. Schools that receive the same rank are tied and are listed in alphabetical order.