Completing College
2019 National Report

December 10, 2019

The national college completion rates continue to rise. The six-year and eight-year college completion rates have reached new highs, 60 percent and 62 percent, respectively.

As the eighth in the series, the 2019 national report presents both the national six-year completion outcomes for the fall 2013 entering student cohort and the national eight-year results for the fall 2011 beginning student cohort, along with historical trends. New analyses of major fields at graduation are added for the first time in this edition.

Following this national report, state-by-state completion rates for the same group of students (the 2013 cohort) will become available in the spring of 2020.

The Completing College report series examines the various education pathways first-time beginning undergraduate students traversed toward a degree or certificate completion, as well as the completion outcomes within six years of enrolling for the different groups of students who followed each pathway.

The completion rates account for all students who enter postsecondary education for the first time each year, enrolling full-time or part-time at two-year or four-year institutions, and completing at any U.S. degree-granting institution. The results include those who complete after transfer, not just completions at the starting institution. Thus, the report more fully captures today’s students’ diverse pathways to success, that increasingly involve mobility across institutions and across state lines, re-entry after stop-out, and changes in enrollment intensities.


  • The national college completion rate continues to rise, albeit more slowly in recent years.
  • First-time entering college students are becoming increasingly traditional in demographics and education pathways.
  • An additional five percent of the 2011 entering student cohort completed during their seventh and eighth years.
  • More progress made among older students generally, and Hispanics in particular.
  • Racial/ethnic and gender disparities exist in major choice at completion.

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