What is Graduation Rate?

While choosing a college, you should look for certain important numbers and graduation rates one among the factors. The significance of graduation rate, its meaning, along with its implications are explained in detail in the article below.

TCM Staff

8th October 2020

If the student doesn't graduate on time, then the expenses increase to complete another year or two of college. Positive peer pressure can help students to attain graduation on time. There are some colleges that maintain a constant graduation rate over the years. The reason probably would be that the acceptance criteria would be strict enough to let only the excellent students into the campus. 

The graduation rate is sure, one criterion to rank colleges. However, it is not the only criteria. It is just one among many criteria. Don't just choose or reject an institution based on the graduation rate. 

What is the Graduation Rate?

The graduation rate of a university is the number of students who complete their courses at the stipulated time as against the total number of students who attend the program.

It is the percentage of students who graduate within four years of their first year in college. The graduation rate is regarded as a parameter to measure the quality of education in the United States. The average four-year graduation rate for students attending public colleges and universities is 33.3%. The six-year rate is 57.6%. At private colleges and universities, the four-year graduation rate is 52.8%, and 65.4% earn a degree in six years. A low graduation rate is an indication that the students do not get sufficient academic and personal support to complete their programs on time. 


Why is the Graduation Rate Important?

The graduation rate is considered an important criterion due to the following reasons.

  • It is a measure of accountability  - It clearly indicates how far an institution is successful in delivering quality education to its students

  • It is a measure of transparency - Graduation rates are the testimony before the public that the institution is able to prepare the given percentage of students for the industry 

  • It is a measure of quality - Quality measures include the curriculum structure, method of imparting knowledge, learned faculty, and many more.

  • It acts as a deciding factor - The graduation rate is a decisive factor behind the number of students who enroll in the program.

Do not eliminate a college because these numbers are not what you think they should be. Remember that no school will be perfect. 

When evaluating the graduation rates of a particular school, remember that students leave for an assortment of reasons that have nothing to do with the school itself. A student may change his major for something that isn't offered at the first college. Maybe a student was pining to go home or a family circumstance required to exchange to a school nearer to home.

How is the Graduation Rate different from the Retention Rate?

The graduation rate is an academic indicator whereas retention rate is a population indicator. That is, the graduation rate measures the percentage of students who graduate within the given time. Retention rate is the number of students who continue in their program during the second year of their graduation.

graduation rateSource: CSU CO3O13

Top 10 Colleges with the Highest Graduation Rates

A few colleges that offer high graduation rates are as given below.

SI. No Institution Graduation Rate
1 University of Florida 84%
2 George Washington University 81%
3 Marist College 81%
4 Full Sail University 80%
5 University of Denver 78%
6 Northeastern University 77%
7 Saint Joseph’s University 76%
8 Linfield College 73%
9 University of West Georgia 69%
10 University of Missouri 69%

Colleges with 6-years for Graduation

A few colleges that offer graduation within six years is as given below.

SI No Institution 6-year graduation rate
1 Penn State University 86%
2 University of Wisconsin 84%
3 University of Michigan 91%
4 University of California 91%
5 University of Virginia 93%
6 Gonzaga University 83%
7 Florida Atlantic University 46%
8 Montana State University 50%


Graduation rate helps the government to keep a track of the percentage of the students graduating every year so that they can make necessary amendments if any, in their educational policies. The graduation rate is also an indicator of the State's upliftment when students can graduate on time with the available resources. Thus graduation rates are helpful not only for students to choose their prospective institutions but also for the industry to be ready for the incoming employees.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1.what is the favorable graduation rate for a college?

    59% is considered as the favorable gradaution rate for a college.

  • 2.Which are a few universities with the highest graduation rates?

    Pennsylvania State University has the highest graduation rate of 87%, followed by University of Florida with 84% and later the George Washington Univesity with 81%.

  • 3.Do online colleges have graduation rates?

    Yes, online colleges also have graduation rates.

  • 4.Which State has the highest graduation rates?

    Nebraska is the state with the highest graduation rates.

  • 5.What is the difference between 6-year graduation rate and 4-year graduation rate?

    The term of the course is considered in both cases, thus identifying the number of students who graduated in 4 years and the number of students who graduated in 6 years.

  • 6.Which other factors are considered when applying to a college?

    Apart from the graduation rate, the retention rate is also an indicator of academic excellence of the institution.

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