UChicago 6-Year Graduation Rate Hits 96%

According to the NCES Navigator, UChicago’s 6-year grad rate for students entering in Fall 2014 is 96%. The graduation rate has risen from 92% only a few years back. I expect it to go up another point or two in the next few years.

The four-year graduation rate (90%) is already at the top of the peer group.


Yes, these are excellent stats.

Also, from the FA page: UChicago has continued to attract Pells. Fall 2019 entering class was the first year of Empower and they were able to up their Pell matriculants by 24 students over the prior year (229 vs 205) and are up nearly 40% from the years prior to ED.

1 Like

There seems to be an awful lot of “look at us” activity from Chicago forum members. Is this a characteristic of the school?


Just Chicago pride. You could be Duke, where half the people in every room hate you upon entry.

1 Like

I often find such stats interesting, but it’s important to look at why, rather than just look at the absolute number. For example, some example graduation rates from selective colleges in the latest IPEDS (2019-20) are below. I expect some of them changed by +/-1 in the 2020-21, like Chicago did.

4-year, 5-year, and 6-year Grad Rates
Notre Dame – 91%, 95%, 96%
Georgetown – 91%, 94% 95%
Princeton – 90%, 97%, 98%
Chicago – 90%, 93%, 95%
Bowdoin – 89%, 94%, 95%
WUSTL – 89%, 94%, 95%
Yale – 88%, 95%, 97%
MIT – 87%, 94%, 95%
Cornell – 87%, 93%, 95%
Penn – 86%, 94%, 96%
Berkeley – 76%, 90%, 93%
Stanford – 73%, 89%, 94%
GeorgiaTech – 46%, 85%, 90%

All of the listed colleges are selective enough that I expect hardly anyone is failing out and not graduating for academic reasons, yet there is still a good amount of variation in 4-year graduation rates . Some are >90% like , Notre Dame and Georgetown, while others like GeorgiaTech are under 50%. There is a correlation with selectivity, but there are many exceptions.

GerogiaTech’s 46% 4-year graduation sounds abysmal, but it makes more sense when you consider how large a portion of students pursue engineering co-ops, which is on paper a 5-year program. If a lot of students choose to pursue 5-year programs, the 4-year graduation rate will not be high. I expect being public and lower sticker price also contributes (I have previously referenced a study suggesting sticker price contributes to graduation rate after controls, perhaps due to perceived financial value of degree).

By several metrics Stanford is the most selective academic college, yet it only has a 73% 4-year graduation rate. A little over 10% of students are varsity athletes, so even if 100% of athletes did not graduate on time, it would not explain the discrepancy. I believe the low 4-year graduation rate primarily relates to Stanford’s co-terminal masters program, which is on paper a 5-year program that ~1/3 of students pursue, although it is not uncommon to take 6 years. Other more complex degree plans, co-ops, redshirting, start-up culture, and various other uncommon factors have a lesser contribution.

I’m not as familiar with Berkeley, but in addition to the above effects, I’m guessing there is a financial contribution. Berkeley has a larger portion of lower income students than any of the listed colleges, and has worse financial aid than most of them for lower income students. This combination can contribute to a larger portion of students needing to delay graduation for financial or family related issues. They also are not known for hand holding, which I expect increases risk of a few rare kids falling through the cracks.

At the other end of the spectrum, the 90+% 4-year graduation rate colleges tend to have few students pursuing co-ops, co-terms, or other more complex degree plans that take more than 4 years. They also tend to have relatively few engineering students. Notre Dame is somewhat of an exception. ~15% of students are engineering, yet they still have a >90% 4-year graduation rate. I suspect that the religious nature of the college contributes, including certain cultural aspects.

There is far less variation in 6-year graduation rates. All of the listed highly selective private colleges had a 96% +/- 2% 6-year graduation rate. One might consider this degree of difference insignificant. Stanford was lowest listed private college at 94%, likely seeing effects a rare few who take >6 years for uncommon reasons, such as more complex degree plans and/or having co-term funded via TA/RA work. For example, I did a double co-term that on paper is a 6-year plan. This double co-term was a standard program listed in the catalog at the time, to foster tech entrepreneurship. HYP all were among the highest private academic colleges at 97-98%. I expect HYP having some of the best financial aid among this group is important, so few students do not graduate for financial reasons. I expect they also have special programs to insure few students fall through the cracks for other reasons.

Regarding Chicago in particular, I don’t find the graduation percentages especially surprising. I expect Chicago has few students pursuing engineering co-ops or 5-year complex degree plans. They also offer good FA and have relatively few lower income students, so I expect few students have delayed graduation for financial reasons. This is expected to bring the 4-year graduation rate to near 90%. All the listed highly selective private colleges had a 96% +/- 2% graduation rate. I’d expect Chicago to be towards the middle of that range, perhaps a little below HYP, near some of other Ivies, so the 6-year graduation also isn’t a surprise.


Well - it is the UChicago forum so, yeah. If you are here, you must want a look at us too.


Here are the most current stats for Data’s list, as well as a few others I threw in that are also comparable to UChicago in terms of prestige, selectivity, and a well known lib arts program.

1st Year Retention, 4-Year Grad Rate, 6-Year Grad Rate (apologize for the bad formatting)

UChicago: 99%, 91%, 96%

ND: 98%, 93%, 97%
G-Town: 97%, 90%, 94%
P: 98%, 90%, 98%
Bowdoin: 98%, 91%, 95%
WUSTL: 97%, 88%, 94%
Yale: 99%, 84%, 96%
MIT: 99%, 87%, 96%
Cornell: 97%, 89%, 95%
Penn: 98%, 86%, 96%
Cal: 97%, 76%, 92%
Stanford: 99%, 74%, 95%
G-Tech: 97%, 47%, 91%
H: 97%, 86%, 98%
Brown: 98%, 84%, 95%
Columbia: 99%, 86%, 96%
Duke: 98%, 88%, 96%
NU: 98%, 85%, 95%

A few comments:

  1. The publics will tend to have a significantly lower four-year rate. Yes, engineering or income disparity can be factors but so is just being able to get your classes. Not everyone is in an honors program where they get first dibs at registration.

  2. Transfer-out rates are also good metrics (IMO) but not all schools report them. Have no idea what UChicago’s is, but I imagine that part of the improvement in their 4- and 6-year grad rates is not only stuff like better advising and other support but also a reduction in the transfer rate. That speaks to better selection of the incoming class.

  3. As my D’s resident dean, who graduated from the College a generation ago, reminded everyone at the class of '21 diploma ceremony: the old Fisk Guide to Colleges gave UChicago a rare 5-1-1 rating on a scale of 1 to 5. The 5 was for academics. The 1’s were for social life and quality of life. UChicago’s freshman retention of 90% in the mid-90’s wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t all that good and it couldn’t have compared well to peer schools. All have probably improved their metrics over the years but UChicago has had more room for improvement.

  4. Looking at the 6-year rate (in order to adjust for co-ops, complex degree programs, etc.), UChicago is behind P and H (98%) as well as ND (97%). Tied with Yale, MIT, Penn, Columbia, and Duke. Slightly ahead of Bowdoin, Brown, Cornell, Stanford and NU. So pretty much where one would expect it to be.

  5. But that high 4-year rate is a huge metric, nonetheless, and it by no means precludes graduate work since there are popular joint-degree options that allow you to complete your master’s by the end of your fourth year in the College. Co-ops and more complex degree paths have their place, but if one wants to finish up their education in four years (a BIG money saver!) then UChicago is worth considering.

1 Like

I think it’s mostly insecure feelings compared to people from Ivies. :joy:

I know @JBStillFlying is gonna jump on.

Or that if the cost of an extra semester of school is higher, that increases the incentive to avoid needing an extra semester of school (as opposed to calendar time delay due to non-tuition-paying gap or co-op semesters).

That’s just a basketball thing.


Don’t stop at just the Ivies. There isn’t another school that’s talked about here on CC that has threads like these every week or two pop up. The younger folks won’t get the reference, but UofC is the Rodney Dangerfield of US colleges. Hands down.


Here we go with the usual cast of characters feeling the need to cast the usual stale old aspersions in response to a thread that told something interesting to anyone interested in Chicago but made no reference whatever to any other school. How has the U of C managed to get in the heads of so many so suddenly? I have my theories.

1 Like

@Data10 , can you let us have the data in support of your statement that Chicago “has relatively fewer low income students”? Are you referring to the very lowest such level, the Pell granters? And to which peer schools are you making the comparison?

These UoC “Look at me” threads, sometimes posted by a 1st time poster, sometimes not, but the threads have become numerous enough now that are becoming spam. And the moderators ought to deal with them just like any other spam posted on CC.

I wasn’t thinking of Pell grants in particular, but since you brought it up numbers are below for the most recent IPEDS year. With test optional this year, Pell % has reached record levels more recently at several of the colleges below, so current year is typically higher than below, in some cases much higher. ~35% of US undergrad students receive Pell grants overall, so Amherst is the only listed college that approaches a representation similar to the full college going population. Low income Pell students appear to be more more severely underrepresented at Chicago than most peers.

Notre Dame - 10% Pell
Chicago – 11% Pell
Duke – 12% Pell
Penn – 13% Pell
Brown / Georgetown / WUSTL – 14% Pell
Dartmouth / Vanderbilt – 15% Pell
Cornell – 16% Pell
Columbia / Harvard – 18% Pell
MIT – 19% Pell
Yale – 20% Pell
Northwestern / Princeton – 21% Pell
Amherst – 30% Pell

The average 6-year grad rate for Pell students over the past 3 IPEDS years (using more years since smaller sample) is below. The grad rate for Pell kids is usually lower than non-Pell, but highly selective colleges with top FA tend to do well in this metric with only slight differences.

Average 6-Year Graduation Rate for Pell Kids
Harvard / Yale – 96%
Bowdoin / Duke – 95%
Amherst / Swarthmore / Williams – 94%
Georgetown / Northwestern / Notre Dame / Penn – 93%
Berkeley / Brown / Cornell/ Columbia / Princeton / Stanford – 92%
Chicago – 91%
MIT – 90%

I agree with this. We don’t get no respect and have a chip on our shoulder.

You are a patient finder and purveyor of data, @Data10 , and that is interesting data.

Chicago has had low numbers of Pells for many years. It is trying to raise those numbers through its various outreach and scholarship programs. The school is still a well-kept secret from this demographic, or, if not entirely secret, it is nevertheless a school that lacks the brand-name allure of most of the peer schools. The talented low-SES kids can write their own ticket, and it may be especially hard to get them to write it for a tough cold school without much name recognition and no spectator sports. For those that do choose Chicago it is gratifying to see that they are graduating at a high rate from a school where, as many have said, there is really no place to hide in terms of academic intensity.

It would be interesting to know what the mean or average level of parental wealth is at Chicago as against the peer schools. For many years Chicago lagged its peers very badly in that department. While there may not have been as many low-SES kids at Chicago there were also not nearly as many high-SES ones - or the high ones were not nearly as high at Chicago as the high ones at the ivies and other peers. That was data from not so long ago - around ten years.

The tone of the school for at least a century has been set by kids of middling SES, an aversion to glamour, and high academic aspiration. I suspect the averages in SES have been shifting somewhat upward in the intervening years though still well below HYSP. Chicago will always be looking to recruit its peculiar academic type, wherever it finds them.

Glamour is harder to measure, but I doubt anyone has ever come to the U of C past or present in pursuit of that quality.

Nah. This past year with so many Ivies seeing large numbers of gappers while UChicago was open to everyone really underscored that they are just different schools that attract different kids with different goals and purposes for attending college. Fortunately, there is room for all in our system of higher ed.

1 Like

@marlowe1 here’s Exhibit A.

Long time listener, first time caller. :laughing:

First time poster for this thread. Maybe we’ll see @HYPSNoMore also a first time poster who started a thread recently come back and comment here. As I said, it’s spam at this point. Advertising. Maybe CC should start charging UofC a fee with these threads.