news-category: Campus News

New York Times Ranks Gardner-Webb No. 7 in North Carolina for Economic Mobility

A student walks into Spangler stadium for the ceremony

Interactive College Ranking Tool Gives the University Top Scores in Multiple Categories

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.— A new interactive college ranking tool designed by the editors of The New York Times ranks Gardner-Webb University No. 7 for economic mobility among private colleges and universities in North Carolina and No. 12 when adding public institutions to the combined study. Making the rankings were 16 private and 10 public schools in North Carolina.

The Times based its economic mobility factor on research by Opportunity Insights. In their analysis, researchers looked at a variety of data from U.S. colleges to focus on students improving their economic standing from enrollment to post graduation career.

“These data provide empirical validation of what we thought we already knew, namely that a Gardner-Webb degree will lift graduates and their families up the ladder of economic mobility,” confirmed GWU President Dr. William M. Downs. “The fact that we are in the top tier of North Carolina colleges and universities on this crucial measure reinforces our message to current and prospective students about the incredible value of a GWU education.”

Gardner-Webb’s ranking on economic mobility is higher than several public institutions including Appalachian State University, UNC-Asheville, UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State and UNC-Wilmington. GWU is also listed at a higher ranking than numerous private colleges and universities: Davidson College, Duke University, Elon University, Meredith College, Queens University, and Wake Forest University.

A student talks to a professor

In addition to ranking economic mobility, The New York Times tool allows students to see how schools rank on 10 different criteria. The student rates each factor on a sliding scale, giving more weight to the characteristics that are most important to them. Students can also filter schools according to size and location.

Gardner-Webb ranks number No. 2 among private colleges and universities in North Carolina when applying equal importance to the characteristics of economic mobility, affordability, and academic profile.

When one of the factors below is given priority, Gardner-Webb’s ranking among private schools in North Carolina follows:

  • Campus Safety, No. 1.
  • Low Sticker Price, No. 2.
  • Low Net Price, No. 3.
  • Athletics, No. 10.
  • Racially Diverse, No. 8.
  • Academic Profile, No. 10.

On a list comparing all 26 North Carolina colleges and universities, Gardner-Webb ranks:

  • No. 1 in Campus Safety.
  • No. 12 in Low Sticker Price—placing above Barton, North Carolina Wesleyan, Pfeiffer, Warren Wilson, Johnson & Wales, Queens, Elon, Wingate, Meredith, Lenoir-Rhyne, High Point, Davidson, Duke and Wake Forest.
  • No. 13 in Low Net Price—ahead of Barton, Lees-McRae, Meredith, Warren Wilson, Johnson & Wales, Queens, Pfeiffer, Duke, Wake Forest, Elon and High Point.
  • No. 11 in Racially Diverse—higher than East Carolina, Meredith, Davidson, Lenoir-Rhyne, N.C. State University, Wake Forest University, UNC-Asheville, Lees-McRae, Warren Wilson, High Point, UNC-Wilmington, Western Carolina, Winston-Salem State, Elon and Appalachian State.

To our readers:

The information in this report is from The New York Times article published on March 27, 2023, “Build Your Own College Rankings.” The interactive tool includes 883 U.S. Colleges, 26 in North Carolina. The colleges are ranked on 10 criteria: high earnings, low sticker price, academic profile, party scene, racially diverse, economic mobility, low net price, athletics, campus safety and economically diverse. The Times used data from these public sources: the National Center for Education Statistics, the College Scorecard, and Opportunity Insights.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, 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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