Undergraduate graduation rates
What are the graduation rates for students obtaining an undergraduate degree?
In 2020, the overall 6-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at 4-year degree-granting institutions in fall 2014 was 64 percent. That is, by 2020, some 64 percent of students had completed a bachelor’s degree at the same institution where they started in 2014. The 6-year graduation rate was 63 percent at public institutions, 68 percent at private nonprofit institutions, and 29 percent at private for-profit institutions. The overall 6-year graduation rate was 60 percent for males and 67 percent for females. The 6-year graduation rate was higher for females than for males at both public (66 vs. 60 percent) and private nonprofit (71 vs. 64 percent) institutions. However, at private for-profit institutions, males had a higher 6-year graduation rate than females (31 vs. 28 percent).
Two-year institutions generally focus on providing student instruction and related activities through a range of career-oriented programs at the certificate and associate’s degree levels and preparing students to transfer to 4-year institutions. Among first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began seeking a certificate or associate’s degree at 2-year degree-granting institutions in fall 2017, about 34 percent attained their credential within 150 percent of the normal time required for completion of these programs. An example of completing a credential within 150 percent of the normal time is completing a 2-year degree within 3 years. Among the same cohort, another 14 percent had transferred to another institution within 150 percent of normal completion time.1 Meanwhile, 10 percent remained enrolled in their first institution after 150 percent time. The remaining students who entered 2-year institutions in 2017 were no longer enrolled in their first institution and had not been reported as a transfer at a different institution (42 percent).
1 Transfer out data are required to be reported only by those institutions for which preparation for transfers is a substantial part of the institution’s mission.
SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). Undergraduate Retention and Graduation Rates. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/ctr.
Numbers in figure titles reflect original numeration from source Condition of Education indicators.
Related Tables and Figures: (Listed by Release Date)
- 2022, Digest of Education Statistics 2021, Table 326.10. Grad. rate from first institution attended for first-time, full-time bachelor's degree-seeking students at 4-year postsec. institutions, by race/ethnicity, time to completion, sex, ctrl. of institution, and % of applications...1996 through 2014
- 2022, Digest of Education Statistics 2021, Table 326.20. Graduation rate from first institution attended within 150 percent of normal time for first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking students at 2-year institutions...Selected cohort entry years, 2000 through 2017
- 2022, Digest of Education Statistics 2021, Table 326.30. Retention of first-time degree-seeking undergraduates at degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by attendance status, level and control of institution, and percentage of applications accepted: Selected years, 2006 to 2020
- 2021, Digest of Education Statistics 2020, Table 326.15.
Percentage distribution of first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree-seeking students at 4-year postsecondary institutions 6 years after entry, by completion and enrollment status, sex, race/ethnicity, control...2007 and 2013
- 2021, Digest of Education Statistics 2020, Table 326.27. Number of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students entering a postsecondary institution and % of students 4, 6, and 8 years after entry, by completion and enrollment status and selected characteristics: Cohort entry year 2011
- 2020, Digest of Education Statistics 2019, Table 326.40. Percentage distribution of first-time postsecondary students starting at 2- and 4-year institutions during the 2003-04 academic year, by highest degree attained, enrollment status, and selected characteristics: Spring 2009
- 2020, Digest of Education Statistics 2019, Table 326.50. Number and percentage distribution of first-time postsecondary students starting at 2- and 4-year institutions during the 2011-12 academic year, by attainment and enrollment status and selected characteristics: Spring 2014
Other Resources: (Listed by Release Date)
- 2021, Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS): BPS studies follow students when they first begin their postsecondary education.
- 2021, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS): IPEDS is a system of surveys designed to collect data from all primary providers of postsecondary education.
- 2019, Persistence, Retention, and Attainment of 2011–12 First-Time Beginning Postsecondary Students as of Spring 2017
- 2018, Graduation Rates for Selected Cohorts, 2009–14; Outcome Measures for Cohort Year 2009–10; Student Financial Aid, Academic Year 2016–17; and Admissions in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2017: First Look (Provisional Data)
- 2018, Three-Year Persistence and Attainment Among Subbaccalaureate Occupational Students: 2006 and 2014
- 2017, Graduation Rates for Selected Cohorts, 2008–13; Outcome Measures for Cohort Year 2008; Student Financial Aid, Academic Year 2015–16; and Admissions in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2016: First Look (Provisional Data)
- 2017, NCES Blog: Expanding Student Success Rates to Reflect Today’s College Students