January 2010

A periodic newsletter on a single topic of interest published by the Office of Higher Education


Graduation Rates Inching Up at Some Minnesota Colleges

Graduation rates vary greatly among colleges. Colleges admitting only the highest-achieving students tend to have high graduation rates, while those with less rigorous entrance criteria typically have lower completion rates. Other factors may affect timely graduation as well, such as the effectiveness of course scheduling and advising. This issue of Insight looks at Minnesota's progress in improving college completion rates.

Graduation rates at Minnesota's four-year public and private colleges have increased over the last 11 years. Sixty-one percent of all first-year, full-time degree-seeking students who entered a Minnesota four-year college in 2002 completed a bachelor's degree within six years at the institution where they started. This statewide average places Minnesota at about the national average.

6-Year Bachelor's Degree Graduation Rates at Minnesota's 4-Year Institutions
199820002002200420062008
State Universities40%42%44%46%47%48%
University of Minnesota44%48%51%53%57%61%
Private Colleges66%69%71%68%68%72%

Source: Intregrated Postsecondary Education Data System and the MN Office of Higher Education

Defining Graduation Rates
The graduation rate tracks cohorts of first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students and identifies what proportion complete a bachelor's degree within four or six years at the same institution where they began their studies. Graduation rates are calculated for students who received a bachelor's degree within six years at the same institution. Note that not all students at the institution are tracked for these rates. Students who have already attended another postsecondary institution, or who began their studies on a part-time basis, are not tracked for this rate.

Few if any colleges will ever post a 100 percent graduation rate. Students will transfer, drop out or enroll part time after being enrolled full time as their circumstances change. However graduation rates at four-year institutions can provide some indication of student and institutional success. A high graduation rate may be an indication of well targeted student recruitment, effective academic scheduling and advising and strong student support.

6-Year Bachelor's Degree Graduation Rates at Minnesota's 4-Year Institutions

Percent of first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students who received a bachelor's degree within 6 years, multiple year trends

Institution Name20042005200620072008
 
University of Minnesota - All5356575961
University of Minnesota-Crookston3735263336
University of Minnesota-Duluth4648515050
University of Minnesota-Morris5255575863
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities5661616366
 
State Universities - All4647474848
Bemidji State University4247455046
Metropolitan State University3324211820
Minnesota State Univ-Mankato4849485051
Minnesota State Univ-Moorhead4142424540
Saint Cloud State University4346464549
Southwest Minnesota State University4938404340
Winona State University5152545355
 
Private Colleges - All6870687272
Augsburg College5455526056
Bethany Lutheran College7376237578
Bethel University7373707675
Carleton College9087939393
College of Saint Benedict8277808284
College of Saint Scholastica6763666466
College of Saint Catherine5958575858
College of Visual Arts2627254020
Concordia College at Moorhead6563706966
Concordia Univ-Saint Paul3842414550
Crossroads College2831202031
Crown College5553464853
Gustavus Adolphus College7176678683
Hamline University7170616971
Macalester College8185858687
Martin Luther College7173696867
Minneapolis Coll of Art & Design7171735259
North Central University4344294637
Northwestern College5759585957
Oak Hills Christian College1728192031
Saint John's University8179828083
Saint Mary's Univ of Minnesota5865615357
Saint Olaf College8483858686
University of Saint Thomas7174747272

Graduation rates are calculated for students who received a bachelor's degree within six years at the same institution. Note that not all students at the institution are tracked for these rates. Students who have already attended another postsecondary institution, or who began their studies on a part-time basis, are not tracked for this rate.

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

 

Comparing Minnesota
Minnesota's most recent statewide graduation rate is lower than the top performing states in the nation. Minnesota's average rate is also lower than the average for peer states of Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Graduation rates for each of Minnesota's four-year colleges and universities are as follows.

6-Year Bachelor's Degree Graduation Rates at Minnesota's 4-Year Institutions 2008

Institution NameFall 2002 Cohort4-Year Graduation Rate6-Year Graduation Rate
 
University of Minnesota - All7,90536.2%60.6%
University of Minnesota-Crookston24321.4%36.2%
University of Minnesota-Duluth2,02523.5%50.1%
University of Minnesota-Morris47546.1%62.9%
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities5,16241.0%65.7%
 
State Universities - All8,07919.8%48.3%
Bemidji State University58419.5%45.9%
Metropolitan State University555.5%20.0%
Minnesota State Univ-Mankato2,05018.3%51.2%
Minnesota State Univ-Moorhead1,24617.5%40.0%
Saint Cloud State University2,15119.3%48.7%
Southwest Minnesota State University47620.0%40.1%
Winona State University1,51724.9%55.3%
 
Private Colleges - All9,08062.2%72.2%
Augsburg College34737.2%56.5%
Bethany Lutheran College8871.6%78.4%
Bethel University56565.5%75.2%
Carleton College49989.6%93.2%
College of Saint Benedict51679.5%84.1%
College of Saint Scholastica38257.1%66.5%
College of Saint Catherine31537.1%57.8%
College of Visual Arts250.0%20.0%
Concordia College at Moorhead74860.2%65.8%
Concordia Univ-Saint Paul17532.6%49.7%
Crossroads College2611.5%53.8%
Crown College12935.7%57.4%
Gustavus Adolphus College64580.8%82.9%
Hamline University41364.6%71.4%
Macalester College44084.1%87.3%
Martin Luther College24141.9%67.2%
Minneapolis Coll of Art & Design12352.8%58.5%
North Central University22414.3%37.9%
Northwestern College43042.6%57.7%
Oak Hills Christian College1323.1%38.5%
Saint John's University46872.6%82.7%
Saint Mary's Univ of Minnesota39645.2%56.6%
Saint Olaf College77783.0%86.5%
University of Saint Thomas1,09557.4%72.3%

Fall 2002 cohort are first-time, full-time, degree seeking students. It is an institution's revised cohort minus any allowable exclusions. Graduation rates are calculated for students who received a bachelor's degree at the same institution. Note that not all students at the institution are tracked for these rates. Students who have already attended another postsecondary institution, or who began their studies on a part-time basis, are not tracked for this rate.

Data are perturbed by the U.S. Department of Education to protect student privacy and may be slightly different than data reported by the institution.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, IPEDS Completion Survey

 

6-Year Bachelor's Degree Graduation Rates for the Top 10 Most Popular Out-of-State Schools Attended by Minnesota Residents 2008

 4-Year Graduation Rate6-Year Graduation Rate
North Dakota State University-Main Campus19%47%
University of North Dakota22%54%
University of Wisconsin-Madison50%81%
University of Wisconsin-River Falls27%55%
University of Wisconsin-Stout17%53%
Iowa State University34%67%
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire21%61%
South Dakota State University21%53%
Luther College (Iowa)61%72%
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse30%65%

Most popular listed first.

 

Improving Graduation Rates at the University of Minnesota
While Minnesota's private non-profit colleges tend to have the highest graduation rates in Minnesota, the University of Minnesota has posted the greatest improvement in its rates over time. The combined six-year graduation rate for all University of Minnesota campuses increased from 44 percent in 1998 to 61 percent in 2008.

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities increased its six-year graduation rate from 56 percent to 66 percent over the same 10-year period.

The University of Minnesota's Board of Regents and President have encouraged improvement in graduation rates for several years. The Twin Cities campus has set goals to improve graduation rates by 2012 as follows:

  • four-year graduation rate of 50 percent
  • five-year rate of 70 percent
  • six-year rate of 75 percent

Bachelor's Degree Graduation Rates for Universities in the Big Ten Conference 2008

 4-Year Graduation Rate6-Year Graduation Rate
Northwestern University86%94%
University of Michigan70%88%
Pennsylvania State University60%85%
University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana64%82%
University of Wisconsin-Madison50%81%
Michigan State University47%75%
Indiana University, Bloomington 51%73%
Ohio State University42%73%
Purdue University38%72%
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities41%66%
University of Iowa*40%66%

*2007 data shown

 


About the Office of Higher Education

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education is a cabinet-level state agency providing students with financial aid programs and information to help them gain access to postsecondary education. The agency also serves as the state's clearinghouse for data, research and analysis on postsecondary enrollment, financial aid, finance and trends.

The Minnesota State Grant Program is the largest financial aid program administered by the Office of Higher Education, awarding up to $150 million in need-based grants to Minnesota residents attending eligible colleges, universities and career schools in Minnesota. The agency oversees other state scholarship programs, tuition reciprocity programs, a student loan program, Minnesota's 529 College Savings Plan, licensing and early college awareness programs and initiatives for youth.

» TABLE OF CONTENTS «

Defining Graduation Rates

Comparing Minnesota

Improving Graduation Rates at the University of Minnesota


» RELATED TOPIC «

Graduation Rates


» FEATURED LINKS «

Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them • 2009 Report by Public Agenda

To compare any U.S. institution's 6-year graduation rate with its peer institutions nationally visit the EdTrust Website

Placing Graduation Rates in Context 2007, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education [ .pdf ]

Using Graduation Rates for Cost Benefit Analysis. Wall Street Journal Blog, June 2009.

Diplomas and Dropouts, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research


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Author
Alexandra Djurovich
Research and Policy Analyst

Editor
Barb Schlaefer
Director of Communications