Time is money and that is especially true when it comes to college.
College students usually don’t graduate in four years and that comes as a shock to most parents. Yesterday I devoted my college blog to explaining how families can find the four-year grad rates of any schools — and just as importantly — compare any institution’s grad rate with its peers. If you missed it, here it is:
Today I want to share graduation statistics among general categories of schools. It should be no surprise that students at private institutions graduate sooner than students at state universities, but there is variation within those two broad categories, according to figures that I pulled from a study from the ACT Research & Policy Issues.
State universities that maintain doctoral programs graduate more students in the traditional four years than schools where the top degree is a master’s degree. State schools that produce only bachelor’s degrees fare better with their grad stats than state schools that produce master’s degrees. You can witness the same phenomenon with private colleges and universities.
4-year Grad Rates at Private Institutions
- Bachelor-PhD programs 52.9%
- Bachelor’s Degree Only 48.4%
- Bachelor’s/Master’s Degrees 44.9%
4-Year Grad Rates at Public Institutions
- Bachelors-PhD Programs 29.4%
- Bachelor’s Degree Only 27.6%
- Bachelors/Master’s Degree 23.1%
State Flagships & Private Universities
Why would research-intense schools enjoy the highest grad rates?
Among public institutions, schools that fall into this category include the state flagships and they tend to accept students who arrive at college with better high school grades and test scores. I think a much bigger reason, however, is that flagships tend to enjoy better state funding than the public regional universities that offer master’s degree programs.
As for the higher success of private research universities, frankly there aren’t that many schools that fit into this list and a healthy percentage of those that do tend to be elite such as the Ivy League schools, as well as institutions like Stanford, University of Chicago, MIT and Georgetown. These elite schools are extremely wealthy and only accept exceptional teenagers (mostly of them wealthy), which explains why these students can graduate on time. You could lock these kids in a dark closet and they’d still find a way to graduate on time.
Liberal Arts Colleges
Why would schools that only provide Bachelor’s degrees enjoy better grad rates than schools that also offer master’s degrees? One reason is that a fair number of schools in this category are liberal arts colleges. Like private research universities, the percentage of liberal arts colleges in the higher-ed universe is tiny. Many of these liberal arts colleges are selective and enjoy more financial resources than schools that offer master’s degree.
The other type of colleges are considered “baccalaureate,” which as a group are less prestigious. These colleges offer more vocational majors such as communications, criminal justice, nursing, and parks & recreation.
I explained the difference between these two types of colleges in this post:
As you do research on grad rates for potential schools, I’d suggest checking out my favorite place to find four-year grad rates: