The colleges with the highest and lowest graduation rates

The possibility of not graduating is a real risk in college. Although this may sound frightening, for the most part, students are in control of their situation. When you see a college with a low graduation rate, many factors can be taken into consideration. Graduation rate is the percentage of a school's first-time, first-year undergraduate students who complete their program within 150% of the published time for the program. For example, for a four-year degree program, entering students who complete within six years are counted as graduates. This means that a student can graduate college in six years but NOT be factored in the graduation rate for their school. Others may transfer schools, take a couple years off, or be a part time student. Graduation rate and dropout rate are two very different things.


Schools with extremely high graduation rates (90% or more)


  • Juilliard School (94%) , New York City, New York

  • Bowdoin College (91%) - Brunswick, Maine

  • College of the Holy Cross (91%) - Worcester, Massachusetts

  • Amherst College (90%) - Amherst, Massachusetts

  • Babson College (90%) - Wellesley, Massachusetts

  • Georgetown University (90%) - Washington D.C

  • Hamilton College (90%) - Clinton, NY

  • Soka University of America (90%) - Aliso Viejo, California

  • United States Naval Academy (90%) - Annapolis, Maryland 

  • University of Notre Dame (90%) - Notre Dame, Indiana


Schools with the lowest graduation rates (>10%)


  • College of Southern Nevada (9%) - Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Sitting Bull College (9%) - Fort Yates, North Dakota

  • Harris Stowe State University (8%) - St. Louis, Missouri

  • University of Maryland - University College (8%) - Adelphi, Maryland

  • Georgia Highlands College (7%) - Rome, Georgia

  • East Georgia State College (6%) - Swainsboro, Georgia

  • Langston University (4%) - Langston, Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma State University- Oklahoma City (4%)


All the schools in the lowest graduation rates have a 100% acceptance rate. The numbers may seem daunting, but just because they have low graduation rates may mean many things. Students can transfer institutions, take time with their degree, find a job and the opportunity to pursue their career without a bachelors, any reason can formulate an answer to these rates. If you look at the schools with the lowest graduation rates, there seems to be a trend where they are located in Georgia and Oklahoma. This does not mean Georgia and Oklahoma higher education schools are bad, but there may be a cultural aspect, whereas a bachelors may not be needed. Regardless, no one should be scared of the graduation rates as a defining factor of the school quality. Despite overall graduation rates, as long as students are on top of registering for classes and discuss their situations with their academic advisers, they can still graduate on time in many of these institutions.