Historic sign - Fisk University in Nashville Tennessee

What Everyone Should Know About Fisk

Founded in 1866, Fisk University is the oldest institution of higher education in Nashville, Tennessee and will celebrate its sesquicentennial in 2016. Fisk received a charter for the first chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society on a predominantly black campus in 1953. Fisk’s outstanding faculty and students continue to enhance the University’s national reputation for academic excellence that is validated year after year by the leading third party reviewers, as well as by the pool of talented applicants and the large percentage of alumni who complete graduate or professional degrees and become leaders and scholars in their fields.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Programs

Fisk’s longstanding legacy of excellence is reinforced by its accomplishments in the 21st century, especially in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Business disciplines. Fisk remains the only historically black college or university (HBCU) ever to win the prestigious R&D 100 award, and to date has won four.

Since 2010, the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-Ph.D. Bridge Program has produced eighteen (18) Ph.D. graduates in physics, astronomy, and materials science, disciplines in which women, African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are underrepresented. The Program is on track to graduate an average of three to four each year. This places the program at the top of productivity of Ph.D. degrees awarded to underrepresented minorities.

In September 2012, the National Science Foundation released its most recent study ranking U.S. higher education programs by their expenditures in research and development. Fisk University’s research in the physical sciences ranks in the top 3 percent while Fisk’s overall research ranks in the top 8 percent among all U.S. universities and colleges.

Department of Business Administration

The Department of Business Administration, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, has a reputation for producing alumni who hold top positions in their fields. These include entrepreneurs George Russell Curtis, Sr. ’56, Karl Turner’77 and Jacquelyn Denton Alton ’66, sports agents and executives Carl Poston III ’77 and Kevin Poston ’81, hospital system executive Mark Chastang ’74, and past American Hospital Association Chairman and former Truman Medical Center CEO John W. Bluford III ’71.

Among the many young alumni who have begun to make their marks are Toyota North America finance executive Dennis Deveaux ’04, risk analysts Jenise Burks ’11 and Jordan West ’10, financial services professional James Horton ’06, accounting executive Dominique D'Antignac-Bell ’97, and Foreign Services Officer William Campbell ’07.

The department’s ENACTUS organization (formerly SIFE) regularly wins regional competitions for their innovative projects that make a difference in the Nashville community while developing them into socially responsible business leaders. Fisk holds membership in the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

The Department of Business Administration offers a minor in music business through a collaborative agreement with Belmont University. In addition, Fisk offers a joint program with the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. In five years, students earn a Fisk B.S. degree and a Vanderbilt Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree.

National Rankings

According to the American Physical Society (April 2014), Fisk is the number one producer of underrepresented minority Master's in Physics degrees. Fisk is ranked in the top 15 institutions in the nation for awarding the Master's in Physics degree for all students, and tied for fourth place for Master's degrees awarded to women of any ethnic background. As of 2006, no U.S. institution awards more master’s in physics degrees to African-American U.S. citizen than Fisk University.

Forbes’ 650 Top Colleges for 2015-2016 ranked Fisk #322 overall, #234 among private colleges and #66 in the South. Fisk is the 5th highest ranked institution in Tennessee, ahead of Belmont University and seven other Tennessee institutions.

U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 rankings continued Fisk in the prestigious Tier One of National Liberal Arts Colleges/ Universities. Only four HBCUs – Fisk University, Claflin University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College – are ranked in Tier One. Among the four institutions, Fisk is the only one that has a BA to MA to PhD pipeline in the natural sciences and does so at the lowest tuition and fees costs. On the list of Best HBCUs, Fisk ranked #7.

Fisk University continues to be consistently ranked among the top 246 the liberal arts college in the nation, according to The Washington Monthly’s “2015 Best Liberal Arts Colleges” edition. Fisk ranked #40 in the U.S. In the categories of research expenditures, Fisk ranks 6th in the nation. On the list of Southern institutions providing the “Best Bang for the Buck,” Fisk ranked #31.

For the 23rd consecutive year, the Princeton Review ranked Fisk among the “Best Southeastern Colleges.”

Money magazine’s 2015-2016 list of “Value All-Stars” ranks Fisk #5 for performing the best job of helping their students achieve more than expected.

Fall 2015 Enrollment

For the fourth consecutive year, Fisk increased its enrollment, by 11%, to 853 students. The average GPA for the 205 freshmen in the Class of 2019 is 3.1 with the average ACT of 21 and average SAT of 1438. Transfer students numbered 33. Approximately 25 percent of the entering students are the first-generation of their families to pursue a higher education.

The Class of 2019 includes 26 Fisk Presidential Scholars, 20 Fisk Legacies, 3 National Merit Scholars/Semi-Finalists, and a Gates Millennial Scholar. One-third of the class completed Advanced Placement courses. Among Fisk’s Class of 2019, biology is the most popular major, followed by business administration, political science, psychology, and chemistry.

Members of the Class of 2019 attained numerous honors during their high school careers including memberships in the National Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Key Club, and Beta Club. They were valedictorians or salutatorians of their high school classes, six percent served as editors or co-editors of their high school yearbooks, and 37 percent were leaders in a variety of organizations. Twelve were presidents of the Student Council or Student Government Association and fifteen were named to “Who’s Who among American High School Students.”

The Class of 2019 is comprised of very civically engaged students who were active participants in numerous organizations including Key Clubs, the Girl Scouts, Bahamas Gentlemen’s Club, Black Achievers, Jack and Jill, NAACP, American Cancer Society and the American Red Cross.

Student Outcomes

Fisk’s persistence rate is 84 percent. Fisk’s six-year graduation rate is 52 percent.

During 2014-2015, over 15 percent of Fisk students were selected for internships by national, regional, and local firms.

Sixty-one percent of students who earn a Fisk degree enter graduate or professional school within one year of their graduation, ahead of the national average of 23 percent.

Fisk’s Class of 2015 included six students who were inducted into The Phi Beta Kappa Society.


1 National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2013

2 National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2013