What is Graduation Rate?

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. Graduation rate is definitely an indicator of the success of an institution. The significance of graduation rate along with its implications are explained in detail in the article below.

Posted by Theres Ann on 26th April 2018

What is Graduation Rate?

Graduation rate 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. Low Graduation rate is in a way an indication that the students do not get sufficient academic and personal support to complete their programs on time or that the programs are unaffordable. 

If the student doesn't graduate on time, then he/she has to extra money 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. 

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.

Why is graduation rate important?

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 - Graduation rate is a decisive factor behind the number of students who enroll in the program.

graduation rateSource: imgflip

How is graduation rate different from retention rate?

Graduation rate is an academic indicator whereas retention rate is a population indicator. That is, graduation rate measures the percentage of students who get graduated at the stipulated time, whereas 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 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 governments to formulate policies.


  what is the favorable graduation rate for a college?

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

  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%.

  Do online colleges have graduation rates?

Yes, online colleges also have graduation rates.

  Which State has the highest graduation rates?

Nebraska is the state with the highest graduation rates.

  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.

  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.