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Four-Year Colleges and Universities Achieve 59.4 Percent Six-Year Graduation Rate in 2013-14

November 25, 2014

For the first time, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has published six-year graduation rate data for public, private nonprofit, and private for-profit colleges and universities. The new data find that 59.4 percent of the undergraduates who entered four-year colleges and universities in fall 2007 received a bachelor's degree or equivalent by academic year 2013-14. Graduation rates varied by race/ethnicity, control of institution and gender. On average, white non-Hispanic students had higher graduation rates than African Americans and Latinos, and graduation rates at four-year private nonprofit schools were higher than those at four-year publics and for-profit institutions.

The new data come from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Graduation Rates 200 survey. This survey collects data from approximately 7,400 postsecondary institutions in the United States. The data are summarized in the NCES report Graduation Rates for Selected Cohorts, 2005-10; and Student Financial Aid in Postsecondary Institutions, Academic Year 2012-13, which provides preliminary data from the IPEDS winter 2013-14 Graduation Rates 200 (GR200) survey. This survey is used to calculate six-year graduation rates for each school that participates in IPEDS. The six-year rate is based on first-time, full-time undergraduate students who entered bachelor's degree programs at four-year colleges and universities in 2007 and received a bachelor's degree or equivalent by August 31, 2013 from their original institution (i.e., students who transferred from their original institution are not included).

Overall, the average six-year graduation for all four-year institutions was 59.4 percent, but the graduation rates varied greatly by race/ethnicity. The average rate for African Americans was 40.8 percent, compared with 52.5 percent for Latinos and 62.9 percent for White, non-Hispanics.

Rates also varied by gender and control of institution. Overall, the six-year graduation rate at four-year public colleges and universities was 57.7 percent. In contrast, the average rate at four-year private nonprofit schools was 65.3 percent, and only 31.9 percent at private for-profit (proprietary) institutions. Women at all types of four-year institutions had higher graduation rates than men. At four-year private nonprofit institutions, for example, women had an average six-year graduation rate of 67.7 percent versus an average of 62.3 percent for men. 

Preliminary graduation rate data for all institutions that participated in the GR200 survey are available through the IPEDS Data Center.


Ken Redd
Director, Research and Policy Analysis