Harding University increases quality measures, takes third in WSJ rankings for student engagement

Harding University posted increases in key education quality measures, continuing multi-year trends of rising student retention, higher ACT and SAT scores, and boasting its highest ever four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates with an overall graduation rate of 67 percent. These positive indicators come during a difficult period for many colleges and universities as college enrollment in the United States has fallen for the past six years.

The University’s total enrollment for 2018 is 5,122, representing a 5 percent decrease in credit hours generated over the previous year. Undergraduate student enrollment is 3,975 and graduate and professional enrollment is 1,147. The number of first-time-in-college freshmen is 856, a decrease of 89 from 2017. Spring 2018 commencement had the second largest number of graduates in school history, after spring 2017 commencement.

“While our total enrollment is lower than last year, our academic performance continues to exceed expectations, and leading indicators are strong,” said Dr. Bruce McLarty, university president. “Harding is responding to the challenging environment by providing new and enhanced degree programs and focusing on student engagement and retention as well as restructuring financial aid and strengthening value to our students.”

On Sept. 5, for the second year in a row, Harding was listed by The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings 2019 as a top school for engagement, ranking third out of all listed schools, nationwide. The rankings recognize colleges with the highest scores for the degree to which students feel they are engaged with their professors, their peers and their education. Harding was ranked eighth in 2017.

Harding’s other notable increases for 2018 include a record high average ACT score among freshmen at 25.3, a 16 percent increase in students with ACT scores of 31 and above, higher diversity retention, and increased overall diversity for the sixth straight year.

“These statistics not only reflect Harding’s academic excellence, they reflect the kind of students who choose Harding for the unique and transformative environment we offer,” McLarty said.

Licensure exam pass rates in its health sciences programs include 100 percent pass rates for multiple years for nursing, family nurse practitioner, physician assistant, physical therapy and speech language pathology.