College Graduation Rates: Full Statistics

From 2008-2020, the average college graduation rate in the U.S. was 60% at four-year schools.
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Updated on July 28, 2023
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Data Summary

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    In 2022, the U.S. college graduation rate was 62.3%.[1]
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    Between 2008-2020, on average, 3 in 5 bachelor's students graduated.[2]
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    2.1 million people received bachelor's degrees in 2021.[3]
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    Almost 350,000 earned an associate degree.Note Reference [3]
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    Almost half (47%) of bachelor's students finished their degree in four years.Note Reference [2]
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    At public two-year colleges, the college graduation rate was 43.1% in 2022.Note Reference [1]

In recent years, as the enrollment cliff nears, fewer people have been going to college. But, college students are graduating at higher rates.

The average college graduation rate depends on several factors, from institution type to program length. And it varies across states and student groups.

This report covers college graduation statistics plus trends from past years.

Average College Graduation Rate

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC), the college graduation rate in 2022 was about 63% for all schools.Note Reference [1]

That's slightly higher than the average college graduation rate from 2008-2020 reported by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which was 60% at four-year colleges.Note Reference [2]

College Graduation Rates By School Type

Among four-year institutions, for-profit schools have the lowest graduation rates.

However, among two-year colleges, private for-profit schools have higher graduation rates than public or nonprofit schools.

National College Completion Rate by School Type, 2022
Institution Type Six-Year Completion Rate Eight-Year Completion Rate
Public, Four-Year 68% 72.4%
Private Nonprofit, Four-Year 77.8% 81.1%
Private For-Profit, Four-Year 47.6% 49.4%
Public, Two-Year 43.1% 45.1%
All Schools 62.3% 65.2%
Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research CenterNote Reference [1]
Graduation Rate at Two-Year Colleges, 2020 (2017 Entry Class)
Institution Type Three-Year Completion Rate
Public 29%
Nonprofit 52%
For-Profit 62%
All School Types 34%
Source: National Center for Education Statistics[4]

Community College Graduation Rates

Public two-year schools, also called community colleges, tend to have lower graduation rates than four-year schools.

In about 8% of instances, community college students transfer to four-year schools to finish their degrees.Note Reference [1]

College Graduation Rate Over Time

The average college graduation rate rose by roughly seven percentage points between 2008 and 2016 entry cohorts.Note Reference [1]

Graduation rates have generally increased at four-year public and nonprofit colleges over the years. They've been less predictable at for-profit colleges.

Number of College Graduates Over Time

The total number of college graduates at four-year institutions increased steadily in the early 2000s, similar to the four-year college graduation rate.

While community colleges have seen a rise in completion rates, the number of graduates at these schools has shrunk. One reason for this may be because community colleges have experienced the steepest recent college enrollment decline compared to other school types.

College Graduation Rates by Gender

Women graduate at higher rates than men and have every year in the recent past. Over the past decade-plus, women have graduated at higher rates than men.Note Reference [1], Note Reference [2]

  • In 2022, nearly 66% of women students and 59% of men students graduated college.Note Reference [1]
  • At all four-year colleges, about 74% of women students graduated versus 67% of men.Note Reference [1]
  • At public two-year colleges, about 46% of women students graduated versus 41% of men.Note Reference [1]
  • Between 2008-2020, women students have graduated from four-year schools at rates about 4-6 percentage points higher than male students.Note Reference [2]

Did You Know...

Women attend college at higher rates than men.

Not only do women graduate from college at higher rates than men, but they also enroll at higher rates. In fact, women have outnumbered men in college since 1979.

Explore more facts and statistics in our college enrollment report.

College Graduation Rates by Race

Centuries of racial exclusion in higher education influence college enrollment and graduation rates.

  • White, Asian, and non-U.S. resident students have above-average graduation rates.Note Reference [2], Note Reference [4]
  • American Indian/Alaska Native, Black, Pacific Islander, Hispanic and Latino/a, and multiracial students have below-average graduation rates.Note Reference [2], Note Reference [4]

Average College Graduation Rate by State

The map below shows the percentage of college students in each state who graduated within 150% of the standard program time by 2022.

Dive Deeper Into U.S. College Attainment Levels

Behind the Numbers

Unless stated otherwise, graduation rate refers to the percentage of college entrants who graduate from the first institute they attended within six years.

When we report graduation rates within 150% of the standard program rate, that means students graduate within six years for four-year schools and three years for two-year schools.

We downloaded Department of Education data to provide state rankings. We took the average college graduation rate among all reporting colleges in each state.