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Home > Research, Data & Reports > Degrees, Graduation Rates, Attainment & Outcomes > Graduation Rates


Graduation Rates

Graduation and retention rates of undergraduates in Minnesota's postsecondary institutions

While not all undergraduates intend to earn baccalaureate degrees, graduation is still a goal of most students entering four-year colleges and universities.

6-year Graduation Rates at Minnesota 4-Year Institutions, 2012
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The graduation rate calculates the number of students entering an institution as full-time, first-time, degree-seeking students in 2006 who completed a bachelor's degree at the same institution by 2012.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, IPEDS Graduation Rate Survey

4- & 6-Year Bachelor's Degree Graduation Rates at Minnesota's 4-Year Institutions, 2006 to 2012
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Source: U.S. Department of Education, IPEDS Graduation Rate Survey

Graduation rates at four-year institutions have been inching up. The graduation rates vary considerably from institution to institution, as the number of students used to track the rate varies within each institution. The six-year graduation rates, in 2012, range from:

  • 73 percent to 47 percent at University of Minnesota campuses
  • 53 percent to 21 percent at state universities
  • 94 percent to 46 percent at private not-for-profit institutions

The University of Minnesota made the greatest stride in improving their graduation rates. The six-year graduation rate for the combined campuses increased from 44 percent in 1998 to 66 percent in 2012. The greatest increase occurred at the Twin Cities campus. The six-year rate increased from 47 percent in 1998 to 73 percent in 2012. The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus six-year graduation rates are now comparable to several Minnesota private not-for-profit institutions. A national analysis of graduation rates by The Chronicle of Higher Education showed the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities had the sixth highest gain in graduation rates of all public research institutions in the U.S. from 2003-2008. Nationally, while 65 percent of four-year institutions had graduation rate increases during this time period, 35 percent had declining rates.

Minnesota's Graduation Rates by Race, 2012
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Source: U.S. Department of Education, IPEDS Graduation Rate Survey

Students of color are not graduating at the same rates as white students. The graduation rates at Minnesota four-year institutions vary by race/ethnicity. While Asian students have higher rates than American Indian, Hispanic and Black students; white students have the highest college graduation rates.

Graduation and Transfer Rates at Minnesota's 2-Year Institutions, 2006 to 2012
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Source: U.S. Department of Education, IPEDS Graduation Rate Survey

About graduation rates

The graduation rates reported here were developed by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, to be used for the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Graduation Rate Survey. These national standardized rates were devised so graduation rates could be compared across institutions.

The graduation rate tracks a cohort of students (defined as new-entering, full-time, first-time, degree-seeking) from their time of initial enrollment in a four-year institution until they complete a bachelor's degree or less within 150% of normal time to program completion at the same institution. For a four-year bachelor's degree program this means students who graduate within six years are successful completers and are included in the rate. For a two-year institution students who graduate within three years are successful completers.

Graduation rates are influenced by a variety of factors. Students who transfer in or transfer out of an institution are not included in the graduation rate. Students who start full-time, and are included in the initial tracking cohort, may subsequently enroll part-time; prolonging their time to completion. In general, institutions which are more selective in whom they enroll have higher graduation rates than institutions that are not very selective.


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