The Gender Gap in College Graduation Rates

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education offers data on the gender gap in college graduation rates at different types of educational institutions.

If we look at all four-year educational institutions, we find that 62.1 percent of women who entered these institutions in 2009 seeking a bachelor’s degree earned their degree within six years. For men seeking bachelor’s degrees, the graduation rate was 56.2 percent. The six percentage point gap in graduation rates existed at both private and state-operated colleges and universities.

The gender gap in college graduation rates favored women in all racial and ethnic groups except for native Hawaiian and other Pacific islanders. The largest gender gap was for African Americans. The graduation rate for Black women was nearly nine percentage points higher than for Black men.

When we look at data for two-year colleges, we find that 33.8 percent of women who enrolled in associate’s degree programs in 2012 earned their degree within three years. For men seeking associate’s degrees, the graduation rate was 29 percent. At two-year colleges, women held a graduation rate edge in all racial and ethnic groups. The largest gender gap in favor of women was for Asian Americans. Among Asian Americans, the graduation rate for women was nearly 10 percentage points higher than the graduation rate for men.

The full report, Graduation Rates for Selected Cohorts, 2007–12; Outcome Measures for Cohort Year 2007; Student Financial Aid, Academic Year 2014–15; and Admissions in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2015, may be downloaded by clicking here.

Filed Under: Degree AttainmentsResearch/Study

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