news-category: Awards

Gardner-Webb Ranked Nationally as a Top Five Private College in North Carolina

A graduate smile as she displays her diploma

Washington Monthly Recognizes Schools for Social Mobility, Research and Public Service

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—In its 2022 National University Rankings, Washington Monthly placed Gardner-Webb University in the top five among private colleges in North Carolina. GWU was ranked above Campbell (N.C.), Liberty University (Va.), Tulane (La.), Robert Morris (Penn.), Baylor (Texas) and Southern Methodist (Texas). This distinctive honor recognizes Gardner-Webb for excellence in three areas: social mobility, research and promoting public service.

Dr. William Downs
Gardner-Webb President William Downs

“We are always striving to give our students the best possible educational experience…that’s Priority Number 1,” emphasized Gardner-Webb President William Downs. “Rankings are never the object, but they can be important indicators. Anytime a prominent publication provides external validation of our efforts toward continuous improvement, we take note and we congratulate our faculty and staff. If we continue to innovate while remaining true to our mission, if we continue to prepare our students for life and not just for career, and if we continue to promote the value of GWU’s authentic college experience, then the rankings will take care of themselves.”   

Recognition as a “National University” places Gardner-Webb within Washington Monthly’s highest tier of U.S. colleges, which includes schools awarding a significant number of doctoral degrees. The other categories defined by the magazine are: the Liberal Arts Colleges (featuring baccalaureate colleges that focus on arts and sciences rather than professional programs); the Master’s tier (acknowledging institutions awarding a significant number of master’s degrees but few or no doctoral degrees); and the Bachelor’s Colleges (recognizing those schools offering almost exclusively bachelor’s degrees).

With its designation as a National University, Gardner-Webb is ranked in a higher tier than several other private schools in the Carolinas, including: Anderson University (S.C.), Converse College (S.C.), Davidson College (N.C.), Furman University (S.C.), Lenoir Rhyne (N.C.), Meredith College (N.C.), Methodist University (N.C.), and Wofford (S.C.).

Founded in 2005, Washington Monthly’s College Guide and Rankings evaluates schools based on student and graduate outcomes and opportunities. The list was founded to spotlight four-year liberal arts colleges that emphasize the arts and sciences within an environment that nurtures those seeking undergraduate degrees.

Scores are determined by using the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Social mobility is based on the graduate rate, cost of tuition and student loan repayment rate. The research score is calculated from the total amount of an institution’s research spending; the number of undergraduate alumni who have gone on to receive a Ph.D. in any subject; the number of faculty receiving prestigious awards; and the number of faculty in the National Academies. Public service is measured by service in AmeriCorps or Peace Corps, ROTC programs, and community service projects.   

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to six professional schools, 14 academic departments, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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