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Time to degree

Question:
How long does it take students at colleges and universities to complete their bachelor's degrees?

Response:

Forty-four percent of 2015–16 first-time bachelorís degree recipients completed their degree 48 months or less after first enrolling in postsecondary education. One-half of those age 23 years or younger graduated in 45 months or less, compared with 162 months or less for those age 30 years or older.

Median and percentage distribution of number of months from first enrollment to bachelorís degree completion among 2015–16 first-time bachelorís degree recipients, by demographic and enrollment characteristics: 2017
Demographic and enrollment characteristics Median number of months Number of months from first enrollment to bachelorís degree completion
48 or less 49 to 60 61 to 72 73 to 120 More than 120
Total 52 (#) 44.1 (0.48) 20.0 (0.42) 9.9 (0.33) 13.6 (0.37) 12.3 (0.33)
Sex
Female 52 (#) 46.2 (0.63) 18.9 (0.61) 8.9 (0.41) 13.1 (0.48) 12.9 (0.44)
Male 55 (1) 41.3 (0.82) 21.5 (0.65) 11.3 (0.55) 14.3 (0.61) 11.5 (0.49)
Race/ethnicity1
White 52 (1) 48.3 (0.63) 20.1 (0.52) 8.4 (0.38) 12.1 (0.44) 11.1 (0.39)
Black 64 (1) 29.8 (1.64) 16.6 (1.14) 13.7 (1.10) 18.4 (1.38) 21.5 (1.35)
Hispanic 58 (1) 30.5 (1.37) 22.8 (1.36) 13.1 (1.10) 19.5 (1.21) 14.1 (1.08)
Asian 48 (2) 50.5 (2.07) 20.4 (1.64) 11.7 (1.25) 11.0 (1.41) 6.4 (1.11)
Other or Two or more races 57 (1) 41.5 (2.78) 18.2 (1.75) 12.1 (2.04) 13.1 (2.01) 15.1 (1.89)
Age completed requirements for 2015–16 bachelor's degree
23 or younger 45 (#) 65.0 (0.60) 27.6 (0.57) 6.3 (0.38) 1.0 (0.15) 0.1! (0.03)
24 to 29 81 (#) 4.6 (0.57) 6.9 (0.65) 24.2 (1.02) 55.2 (1.29) 9.1 (0.75)
30 or older 162 (2) 5.4 (0.58) 4.3 (0.49) 6.3 (0.84) 12.0 (0.83) 72.0 (1.34)
Dependency status in 2015–16 academic year2
Dependent 45 (#) 65.4 (0.65) 26.7 (0.61) 7.4 (0.42) á (Ü) á (Ü)
Independent 84 (2) 13.6 (0.57) 10.5 (0.51) 13.6 (0.58) 32.4 (0.77) 29.9 (0.78)
Control of institution where 2015–16 bachelor's degree was completed
Public 56 (1) 39.3 (0.66) 24.2 (0.59) 11.7 (0.48) 14.8 (0.53) 10.1 (0.44)
Private nonprofit 45 (#) 59.9 (0.75) 13.3 (0.56) 6.5 (0.41) 9.4 (0.52) 10.9 (0.53)
Private for-profit 104 (4) 14.6 (1.02) 10.6 (0.56) 8.9 (0.40) 22.7 (0.69) 43.2 (1.48)

† Not applicable.

# Rounds to zero. Standard error of quantile, as estimated by Woodruff method, is zero. Use caution in hypothesis testing.

! Interpret data with caution. Estimate is unstable because the standard error is between 30 and 50 percent of the estimate.

‡ Reporting standards not met either because of sample cell size or the standard error is greater than 50 percent of the estimate.

1 Black includes African American; Hispanic includes Latino; and Other or Two or more races includes American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and respondents who identify as more than one race. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic origin unless specified.

2 Students classified as independent include those age 24 or over and those under 24 who are married, have dependents, are veterans or on active duty, are orphans or wards of the courts, are homeless or at risk of homelessness, or were determined independent by a financial aid officer using professional judgment. Other students under age 24 are considered dependent.

NOTE: Standard errors in parentheses. Estimates pertain to individuals who completed the requirements for a bachelorís degree in 2015–16 and were awarded their degree by a Title IV eligible postsecondary institution in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico no later than June 30, 2017. This table excludes the 6.0 percent of 2015–16 bachelorís degree recipients who had earned another bachelorís degree prior to 2015–16. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B:16/17): A First Look at the Employment and Educational Experiences of College Graduates, 1 Year Later (NCES 2019-106), Table 2.

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