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University of Georgia sets record graduation rates

Athens, Ga. – From start to finish, University of Georgia students are setting records for how quickly they are completing their bachelor’s degrees or entering professional programs.

The six-year graduation rate has reached a record 84.6 percent, up from 83.2 percent a year ago. The five- and four-year rates also reached record levels in 2014.

“At the University of Georgia, we strive not only to enroll outstanding students but also to create an educational environment on campus that promotes timely completion,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Our rising graduation rates reveal the very strong commitment to student success that exists among faculty and staff at this institution.”

Graduation rates are determined by the number of students from a cohort who graduate with a bachelor’s degree or enter a professional program at UGA, such as pharmacy or veterinary medicine. Cohorts are based on first-time, full-time freshmen entering in the fall. Students who transfer and complete a degree at another institution are not counted as completers in UGA’s graduation rates.

The average six-year graduation rate for four-year institutions across the nation is 59 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Approximately 83 percent of UGA students graduate in five years or less, and 63 percent have a diploma in hand after four years.

Continuing to reduce time to degree, however, remains a top priority for the university. To meet this goal, Morehead and Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, announced a number of academic initiatives last spring. The university has hired additional faculty and academic advisers and is working to enhance the technology that students and advisers use to track progress toward graduation and to integrate counseling about career options into the earliest stages of the advising process.

“Through a combination of increased face-to-face interaction with advisers and the use of the latest technologies, we aim to guide students through the process of choosing a major and selecting courses that enable them to achieve their goals,” Whitten said. “We’re also expanding experiential learning opportunities—such as internships and undergraduate research—that position students for success after graduation.”

UGA tracks the six-year graduation rate to meet requirements of the 1990 Student Right to Know Act, which requires postsecondary institutions to report the percentage of students that complete their program within 150 percent of the normal time for completion, which is six years for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. The six-year graduation rate also is part of the university’s outcome and accountability measures.

When UGA began tracking graduation rates in 1974, only 55 percent of the cohort earned degrees in six years. Rates at UGA have been increasing steadily since that point.