Skip to main content

See also:

Colleges with top four-year graduation rates

--  Bowdoin College, ME  (91%)
-- Bowdoin College, ME (91%)
Nancy Griesemer

If you’re under the impression that college is a four-year proposition, one of the scarier numbers in postsecondary education might be the national “six-year” college graduation rate.

Georgetown has an 89% 4-year graduation rate.
Nancy Griesemer

According to the most recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the percent of students starting as freshmen in four-year bachelor’s programs who graduate within six years now rests at about at 59 percent (up from 58 percent in the last NCES report).

This figure includes for-profit institutions as well as nonprofits and public universities.

And about the four-year graduation rate? Try 38.6 percent.

It that's not bad enough, the divide between public and private institutions is really disturbing—51.9 percent of all private school students graduate in four years while only about 32 percent of students attending public institutions graduate on average in the same period.

Not surprisingly, the more selective the school, the higher the likelihood of “on-time” graduation. Colleges accepting 25 percent or fewer of their applicants had an 88 percent average six-year graduation rate while those accepting between 75 and 90 percent of all applicants posted a 56.4 percent average six-year graduation rate.

Locally, a handful of colleges can boast of 4-year graduation rates above 80 percent or well above national averages. These include the US Naval Academy (87%), Washington & Lee (88%), Georgetown (89%), UVa (87%), William & Mary (83%), and Johns Hopkins University (88%).

Again, thanks to USNWR, here is a snapshot of the top 4-year graduation rates:

  1. Webb Institute (92%)
  2. Bowdoin College (91%)
  3. Carleton College (91%)
  4. Williams College (91%)
  5. College of the Holy Cross (90%)
  6. Columbia University (90%)
  7. Boston College (89%)
  8. Davidson College (89%)
  9. Georgetown University (89%)
  10. Haverford College (89%)
  11. Lafayette College (89%)
  12. Pomona College (89%)
  13. University of Notre Dame (89%)
  14. Yale University (89%)
  15. Dartmouth College (88%)
  16. Johns Hopkins University (88%)
  17. Middlebury College (88%)
  18. Princeton University (88%)
  19. Washington and Lee University (88%)
  20. Washington University in St. Louis (88%)
  21. Beacon College (87%)
  22. Centre College (87%)
  23. Claremont McKenna College (87%)
  24. Cornell University (87%)
  25. Duke University (87%)
  26. Kenyon College (87%)
  27. Tufts University (87%)
  28. US Naval Academy (87%)
  29. University of Pennsylvania (87%)
  30. University of Virginia (87%)
  31. Vanderbilt University (87%)
  32. Wesleyan University (87%)