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Minnesota Office of Higher Education

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


Graduation Rates

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


Graduation is a goal of most new-entering full-time students entering four-year colleges and universities; however, not all of them complete their studies at the same institution as they entered. While some students will leave to transfer and complete somewhere else, others will drop out of college altogether.

4- and 6-Year Bachelor's Degree Graduation Rates at Minnesota's 4-Year Institutions, 2009 and 2014

4- and 6-Year Bachelor's Degree Graduation Rates at Minnesota's 4-Year Institutions, 2009 and 2014

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 2014, range from:

  • 78 percent to 48 percent at University of Minnesota campuses
  • 57 percent to 34 percent at state universities
  • 93 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 72 percent in 2014. The greatest increase occurred at the Twin Cities campus. The six-year rate increased from 47 percent in 1998 to 78 percent in 2014. 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.

Graduation and Transfer Rates at Minnesota's 2-Year Institutions, 2009 and 2014

Graduation and Transfer Rates at Minnesota's 2-Year Institutions, 2009 and 2014

Private 2-year for-profit colleges include only six institutions with 776 students in cohort, compared to 14,153 students in the state college 2-year cohort. Private 2-year for-profit colleges do not report tranfer-out data.

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

Minnesota's Graduation Rates by Race, 2014

Minnesota's Graduation Rates by Race, 2014

First-time, full-time undergraduates entering college in 2008 at Minnesota 4-year institutions and 2011 at Minnesota 2-year institutions and graduating from the same institution, or transferring to another institution (2-year colleges only) by 2014.

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 (University of Minnesota, state universities and private nonprofit colleges) 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.

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 an institution until they complete their program within 100%, 150% or 200% of normal time to program completion at the same institution. The standard reported rate is 150% of normal time. For a bachelor's degree program students graduating within six years are successful completers, while associate degree or certificates below bachelors degrees completed 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. Two-year institutions or career schools that may have bachelors degrees but enroll mostly students seeking an associate degree or less generally have large numbers of part-time students. These students are not used in the cohort tracking graduation rates.

Retention Rates Trends 2010 to 2014

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