Information Brief 2013-5

Associate’s Degree Completion Rates

for a sample of two-year postsecondary institutions

A recent ACT study (Radunzel & Noble, 2012) based on more than 40 two-year postsecondary institutions found that degree completion rates varied substantially across institutions. The three-year associate’s degree completion rate for incoming, first-time, ACT-tested freshmen ranged from 4% to 34% across institutions. The typical rate was 14%.

The middle fifty percent of the institutional rates ranged from 10% to 21% (25th and 75th percentiles shown in the figure below). Fewer than one-fifth (16%) of the institutions had a rate of 25% or higher. These findings illustrate the great variability in degree completion rates across two-year institutions.

Institutional Three-Year Associate’s Degree Completion Rates

Distribution of Institutional Degree Completion Rates
Degree Completion RatesPercent of Participating Institutions
30% to 35%7%
25% to less than 30%9%
20% to less than 25%9%
15% to less than 20%23%
10% to less than 15%28%
5% to less than 10%21%
0% to less than 5%2%

Degree Completion Percentile Values
PercentileDegree Completion Rate
75th Percentile (Q3)21%
50th Percentile (Median, Q2)14%
25th Percentile (Q1)10%

Note: Based on data from more than 40 two-year postsecondary institutions and nearly 68,000 ACT-tested students who enrolled in one of these institutions as a first-time entering student in fall, 2000 through 2006. The sample used in the study may not be representative of all US two-year postsecondary institutions.

The five parts to the boxplot include the minimum, the 25th percentile, the 50th percentile (median), the 75th percentile, and the maximum. For a more detailed description of the study, including characteristics of the institutions included, see the full ACT Research Report.

More Information Briefs

Radunzel, J., & Noble, J. (2012). Predicting long-term college success through degree completion using ACT Composite score, ACT Benchmarks, and high school grade point average. (ACT Research Report No. 2012-5). Iowa City, IA: ACT, Inc. for more information or to suggest ideas for future ACT Information Briefs.