Information Brief 2013-4
Bachelor’s Degree Completion Rates
for a sample of four-year postsecondary institutions
A recent ACT study (Radunzel & Noble, 2012) based on over 60 four-year postsecondary institutions found that degree completion rates varied substantially across institutions. The six-year bachelor’s degree completion rate for incoming, first-time, ACT-tested freshmen ranged from 17% to 79% across institutions. The typical rate was 42%.
The middle fifty percent of the institutional rates ranged from 35% to 55% (25th and 75th percentiles shown in the figure below). Fewer than one-third (31%) of the institutions had a rate of 50% or higher. These findings illustrate the great variability in institutional degree completion rates and admission requirements across four-year institutions.
Institutional Six-Year Bachelor’s Degree Completion Rates
|Degree Completion Rates||Percent of Participating Institutions|
|70% to 80%||5%|
|60% to less than 70%||13%|
|50% to less than 60%||13%|
|40% to less than 50%||28%|
|30% to less than 40%||26%|
|20% to less than 30%||11%|
|10% to less than 20%||3%|
|Percentile||Degree Completion Rate|
|75th Percentile (Q3)||55%|
|50th Percentile (Median, Q2)||42%|
|25th Percentile (Q1)||35%|
Note: Based on data from over 60 four-year postsecondary institutions and nearly 126,000 ACT-tested students who enrolled in one of these institutions as a first-time entering student in fall, 2000 through 2003. The sample used in the study may not be representative of all US four-year postsecondary institutions.
The five parts to the boxplot include the minimum, the 25th percentile, the 50th percentile (median), the 75th percentile, and the maximum. For a more detailed description of the study, including characteristics of the institutions included, see the full ACT Research Report.
Radunzel, J., & Noble, J. (2012). Predicting long-term college success through degree completion using ACT Composite score, ACT Benchmarks, and high school grade point average. (ACT Research Report No. 2012-5). Iowa City, IA: ACT, Inc.
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