College Graduation Rates: Full Statistics

From 2008-2021, the average college graduation rate in the U.S. was 60% at four-year schools.
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Updated on March 4, 2024
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Data Summary

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    In 2023, the U.S. college graduation rate was 62.2%.Note Reference [1]
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    Between 2008-2021 on average, 3 in 5 bachelor's students graduated.Note Reference [2]
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    About 2 million people received bachelor's degrees in 2022.Note Reference [3]
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    About 340,000 earned an associate degree.Note Reference [3]
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    Almost half (49%) 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 43.4% in 2022.Note Reference [1]
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    About 65% of bachelor's students graduated within six years.Note Reference [1]
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    About 35% of students at two-year colleges graduated within three years.Note Reference [4]
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    Female students graduate from college at rates 3-7% higher than male students.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 2023 was 62.2% for all schools.Note Reference [1]

That's slightly higher than the average college graduation rate from 2008-2021 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.

At two-year colleges, private institutions (both nonprofit and for-profit) have higher graduation rates than public institutions.

National College Completion Rate by School Type, 2023
Institution Type Six-Year Completion Rate Eight-Year Completion Rate
Public, Four-Year 67.4% 71.6%
Private Nonprofit, Four-Year 77.5% 80.1%
Private For-Profit, Four-Year 46% 49.3%
Public, Two-Year 43.4% 44.7%
All Schools 62.2% 64.7%
Source: NSCRCNote Reference [1]
Graduation Rate at Two-Year Colleges, 2021 (2018 Entry Class)
Institution Type Three-Year Completion Rate
Public 30.2%
Private Nonprofit 59.6%
Private For-Profit 59.9%
All School Types 34.6%
Source: NCESNote Reference [4]

Community College Graduation Rates

Public two-year schools, also called community colleges, tend to have lower graduation rates than four-year schools. However, some community college students transfer to four-year schools to finish their degrees.

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 2017 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 that community colleges have experienced the steepest recent college enrollment decline compared to other school types.

College Graduation Rates by Gender

Over the past decade-plus, women have graduated at higher rates than men.Note Reference [1], Note Reference [2]

  • In 2023, about 66% of women students and 58% of men students graduated college.
  • At public four-year colleges, about 71% of women students graduated versus 63% of men.
  • At private nonprofit four-year colleges, about 80% of women students graduated versus 74% of men.
  • At public two-year colleges, about 47% of women students graduated versus 41% of men.
  • Between 2008-2022, women students have graduated from four-year schools at rates about 4-6 percentage points higher than men.

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.

(Currently, neither NCES nor NSCRC report enrollment data on nonbinary, transgender, or intersex students.)

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.

Table: Average College Graduation Rate: State Rankings

Sort Results by:
Average College Graduation Rate: State Rankings
Ranking State/District Average College Graduation Rate, 2020-2021
1 Rhode Island 69%
2 Utah 66%
3 Massachusetts 65%
4 Pennsylvania 64%
5 Idaho 64%
6 Florida 62%
7 District of Columbia 62%
8 Indiana 61%
9 Vermont 61%
10 New York 60%
11 New Hampshire 60%
12 California 60%
13 Missouri 60%
14 Iowa 59%
15 West Virginia 59%
16 New Jersey 59%
17 Connecticut 58%
18 Tennessee 58%
19 Ohio 57%
20 Colorado 57%
21 Delaware 57%
22 Wisconsin 57%
23 Maine 56%
24 Michigan 56%
25 Washington 56%
26 Illinois 55%
27 Nebraska 55%
28 Virginia 55%
29 South Dakota 55%
30 Nevada 54%
31 Arizona 54%
32 Louisiana 54%
33 Texas 53%
34 Minnesota 53%
35 Maryland 53%
36 Oregon 53%
37 Oklahoma 52%
38 Mississippi 51%
39 Kentucky 50%
40 Kansas 50%
41 North Carolina 49%
42 South Carolina 48%
43 Arkansas 48%
44 Wyoming 48%
45 North Dakota 47%
46 Montana 47%
47 Hawaii 46%
48 Georgia 46%
49 Alabama 44%
50 Alaska 44%
51 New Mexico 38%
Source: U.S. Department of EducationNote Reference [6]

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.


  1. Completing College National and State Reports. National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. November 2023. (back to footnote 1 in content ⤶)
  2. Table 326.10. Graduation rate from first institution attended for first-time, full-time bachelor's degree-seeking students at 4-year postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity, time to completion, sex, control of institution, and percentage of applications accepted: Selected cohort entry years, 1996 through 2016. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). January 2024. (back to footnote 2 in content ⤶)
  3. Table 4. Number and percentage of awards conferred and students receiving awards at Title IV degree-granting institutions. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS. Fall 2022, Completions component (provisional data). (back to footnote 3 in content ⤶)
  4. Table 326.20. Graduation rate from first institution attended within 150 percent of normal time for first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking students at 2-year postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity, sex, and control of institution: Selected cohort entry years, 2000 through 2018. NCES. January 2023. (back to footnote 4 in content ⤶)
  5. Table 305.10. Total fall enrollment of first-time degree/certificate-seeking students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by attendance status, sex of student, and level and control of institution: 1960 through 2031. NCES. December 2022. (back to footnote 5 in content ⤶)
  6. College Scorecard. U.S. Department of Education. October 2023. (back to footnote 6 in content ⤶)