Facts of the Month

How the U.S. Compares on College Completion Rates

According to a recent issue of Postsecondary Education Opportunity, “By international standards our [the U.S.] bachelor’s degree completion rates are the worst among the industrial democracies of the world.” In fact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently reported that our bachelor’s degree completion rate ranked 26th out of 27 countries in 2005. Only about 56% percent of 25 to 29 year olds that entered higher education in the U.S. completed a bachelor’s degree or more. Number one in the rankings was Japan with a 91% completion rate followed by Denmark (80.5%), the United Kingdom (79%) and the Russian Federation (78.5%) falling in fourth place.
In a Joint Session of Congress in February, 2009, President Barack Obama put forth a goal that, “By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. Over the last fifty years this rate has hovered around the 50% mark. The trend must change in order to change our ranking.
Source: Postsecondary Education Opportunity March, 2009

Publication Date: April 2009