A Primer on the College Student Journey

Key Facts and Figures

Back to table of contents
Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education

Only 40 percent of students complete a bachelor’s degree within four years and only 60 percent graduate from the college at which they started within six years of entry.

Only 29 percent of students who start a certificate or associate degree at a two-year college earn a credential within 150 percent of the time required to do so.

While graduation rate gaps across race and ethnicity are narrowing, gaps based upon gender and income are increasing.

About one-third of undergraduate students transfer or attend two colleges at the same time at some point during their college career.

Fourteen percent of students starting in community colleges transfer to four-year schools and earn a bachelor’s degree within six years.

It takes students an average of five years and ten months to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Of recently awarded undergraduate credentials, less than half--48 percent--were bachelor’s degrees, while 26 percent were associate degrees and 25 percent were certificates.

Over the past decade, the number of all credentials awarded by colleges and universities has increased; the fastest growing college credentials are associate degrees (51 percent increase) and certificates (41 percent increase), followed by baccalaureate degrees (34 percent increase).