Graduation Rates for Popular Online Colleges and Universities

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by sanantone, Jul 17, 2021.

  1. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I was curious to see the graduation rates at some of the popular colleges and universities that are completely or mostly online or have a large online student body. I just kind of picked schools that popped in my head by sector and looked at a list of schools that have the most online students. I left out the community colleges since most don't offer 4-year programs.

    These are 8-year graduation rates. With the exception of Liberty University, all of these schools have acceptance rates above 80%. I avoided more traditional schools like Arizona State University because they're selective. I didn't grab the numbers for Devry, Strayer, or University of Phoenix because they're broken down by campus, and I wasn't going to look at all of them. I guess Colorado State University Global Campus is too new as an accredited university to have an 8-year graduation rate. All of the for-profits that were recently purchased by public and not-for-profit university systems are categorized as for-profit because they haven't been non-profit long enough to witness any potential changes in 8-year graduation rates.

    It was interesting to see that nationally accredited schools like Full Sail and Columbia Southern had higher graduation rates than the regionally accredited for-profit universities. I'm hesitant to do a direct comparison because I taught at an NA school and an RA school, and the accreditation standards were drastically different.


    Capella - 11%

    Colorado Technical University - 25%

    Ashford University (purchased in 2020) - 25%

    APUS - 22%

    Walden - 21%

    Grand Canyon (conversion to non-profit is recent and hasn't been fully approved) - 33%

    Purdue/Kaplan (purchased in 2018) - 26%

    Full Sail - 39%

    Columbia Southern - 49%

    Northcentral (purchased in 2019) - 34%


    Liberty - 40%

    WGU - 43%

    SNHU - 51%

    Excelsior - 46%

    Bellevue - 41%

    Brandman (recently purchased by UMass) - 64%


    TESU - 44%

    Fort Hays - 61%

    University of Maryland Global Campus - 27%

    Northern Arizona University - 58%

    Lamar University - 39%

    Central Washington University - 60%

    Charter Oak State College - 61%

    SUNY Empire State College - 44%
  2. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Since I live in Texas, I decided to look at the Texas campuses for Strayer, Devry, and University of Phoenix.

    Strayer (Texas) - 14%
    University of Phoenix (Texas) - 36%
    Devry (Texas) - 21%

    ETA: The data includes up to the 2018-2019 school year, so that's why there isn't a graduation rate for CSU Global.
  3. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Nationally accredited, for-profit Columbia Southern University - 49% over regionally accredited non-profit schools:

    Excelsior - 46%

    SUNY Empire State College - 44%

    TESU - 44%

    WGU - 43%

    Bellevue - 41%

    Liberty - 40%

    Lamar University - 39%

    Northcentral (purchased in 2019, converted to non-profit after purchase by the National University system) - 34%

    University of Maryland Global Campus - 27%

    Purdue Global/Kaplan (purchased in 2018, converted to non-profit after purchase by Purdue University) - 26%



    University of Phoenix (Texas) - 36%, the king of for-profit schools over:

    Northcentral University - 34%

    University of Maryland Global Campus - 27%
  4. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Yes, Purdue Global is now a public university, and Northcentral is now a non-profit university. However, the stats only go up to the 2018-2019 school year, and those schools have not been not-for-profit long enough to affect the 8-year graduation rates, if the changes will affect the graduation rates.
    LearningAddict likes this.
  5. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I'm kind of not surprised by UMGC's graduation rate. They're a lot different from the other schools in that they have campuses globally that serve the military. Lamar University's graduation rate is kind of surprising, but then again, if one knows anything about Beaumont, TX, then maybe one wouldn't be surprised.

    I don't know much about Central Washington University, but I'm quite impressed with Fort Hays State University. I knew about the school, and they're a go-to place on these forums for their cheap tuition, but I did not know they were one of the schools with the most online students. Over 11,000 out of their 15,000 students are online.
  6. not4profit

    not4profit Active Member

    The vast majority of Northcentral programs and students are doctoral level and graduate level. The overrepresentation of doctoral learners probably skews NCUs graduation results since so many people wash out of doctoral programs.
  7. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    These are undergraduate graduation rates, so graduate students are not included. However, Northcentral University only had 70 undergraduate students in the 2018-2019 school year. They probably have the fewest undergraduate students out of every school listed. In comparison, even though Walden and Capella's student bodies skew toward graduate programs, Walden has almost 7,000 undergraduate students, and Capella has almost 10,000.

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