Whose Pandemic-Era Graduation Rates Beat, or Fell Below, the Average?

With the release of preliminary federal data in November, a clearer picture is starting to emerge of how two years of pandemic-era operations have affected colleges’ graduation rates.

The Chronicle analyzed U.S. Department of Education data for more than 1,300 public and private four-year institutions and found that six-year graduation rates in 2020 and 2021 were 1.26 percent higher, on average, than they were in 2018 and 2019. That incremental rate of increase from year to year has been fairly consistent in recent decades.

In the new data set, nearly 90 institutions had increases in graduation rates in 2020 and 2021 that were five percentage points or more above average relative to 2018 and 2019. More than 140 fell five or more points below average.

Here are details on those institutions:

Methodology: This analysis looked at degree-granting four-year institutions with Carnegie Classifications of doctoral, master’s, or baccalaureate. Only those institutions with a six-year cohort of 50 or more were included. Institutions were defined as degree-granting if they were eligible to participate in Title IV federal financial-aid programs and were within the United States.

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