In it’s annual report, the Condition of Education 2009, the U.S. Department of Education described graduation rates for American students. The report focused on “traditional” students ages 18-24, and examined some basic factors: Public universities versus private colleges, males versus females, and the timeframes of 4, 5, and 6 years for those who did earn a bachelor’s degree (not counting those who took longer or who left college all together).
For all U.S. students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at both public and private colleges, the Department found that only the minority of them actually graduated on a traditional 4-year track. For both young men and women, only 36% of students who did graduate completed a bachelor’s degree in 4 years. 53% of those who completed a degree took 5 years to finish, while 58% of American students took six years to complete a traditional 4-year bachelor’s degree.
A closer look at college type and student gender found more specific data. The lowest graduation rates were at public universities, with only 24% of young men and 34% of young women completing a bachelor’s degree within 4 years. 45% of young men at public universities took 5 years to graduate, as did 53% of young women. The largest portion of students at public colleges completed graduation within 6 years, with 51% of men and 58% of women completing a bachelor’s degree in that timeframe.
The highest graduation rates in the U.S. were for private, not-for-profit colleges. 46% of young men and 54% of young women earned a bachelor’s degree within the traditional 4-year timeframe. 59% of young men completed a degree within 5 years, and 62% finished in 6 years. For young women, 63% finished within 5 years and 67% completed a bachelor’s degree within 6 years.
In all, the lowest rates of traditional graduation (completing a bachelor’s degree within 4 years) were for young men at public universities. The highest 4-year graduation rates were for young women at non-profit colleges. When looking at the largest segment to complete a college degree, young women at not-for-profit colleges who attended for 6 years earned a bachelor’s degree at a rate of 67%.
For graduation rates on specific colleges, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator website.
Jeffrey Ludovici, M.A., is a national level Higher Education Consultant based in Pittsburgh, PA. He’s worked with students and parents across the U.S. about college issues since 2001, and is a member of CSRDE that focuses on best practices in helping students. He is also a member of NACADA, the national college advising association in the U.S. Please see the program page for services Jeff offers.