UW-Madison released updated graduation and retention rates on Thursday, revealing all-time highs in its four and six-year graduation rate, as well as an all-time low in average time-to-degree for the university.
Based on the number of freshmen who entered the university in 2017, the four-year graduation rate at UW-Madison has risen to 71.8%, up 0.6%from the previous year, according to a report from the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research.
The rate is up more than 10% from six years ago and is significantly higher than the most recent average of peer institutions at 64.9%.
The six-year graduation rate, based on freshman entering the university in 2015, increased to 89.2%, an increase of 0.7% from the previous year. Notably, the gap in six-year graduation rates between the overall rate and rate for underrepresented students of color has been cut by a third over the last 10 years, from 18% for the 2006 entering cohort to 6% for the 2015 entering cohort.
The university noted that the average six-year graduation rate of peers is 81.1%, putting UW-Madison in the top 10 of public research universities.
The university conferred a record 7,671 bachelor’s degrees and 2,537 master’s degrees during the 2020-2021 academic year, both rates up by more than 200 from the previous year.
The average time-to-degree also saw improvement, coming in at 3.89 years, another record for the university. The figure stood at 3.92 years last year. According to UW-Madison, average time-to-degree is a key measure of student success, and a significant factor in college affordability.
University officials have cited motivated, hard-working students, faculty and staff; enhanced academic and career advising; the expansion of summer term; and new online tools that help undergraduates easily find and enroll in the courses they need as key factors contributing to improvement in these metrics of student success.
“It’s impressive that all of these metrics — graduation rates, time-to-degree, the retention rate, the number of graduates — continue to be so strong despite the impacts of a global pandemic,” Provost Karl Scholz remarked in a statement..
He further touted the growth as a mark of quality, adding that “this is a good indication of the health of the university, and it could not have happened without the extra efforts of our faculty and staff and the hard work of our students during this exceptionally challenging time.”
The improved graduation and time-to-degree statistics come as the university inducted its largest freshman class in the institution’s history, of 8,465 new students, up from the 7,306 freshman who entered last year.
“These are the best numbers we’ve seen at UW–Madison and speak to the university’s educational excellence,” said Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “Importantly, these figures highlight our continuous efforts to keep an education at the state’s flagship university a great value for our Wisconsin families.”