Time to Degree: 2014-15 Bachelor’s Degree Recipients

Based on a definition of 30 weeks as one year, students who completed bachelor’s degrees in 2014-15 were enrolled for an average of 5.1 full-time academic years. Those who completed associate degrees were enrolled for an average of 3.3 years.

Figure 13A: Total Number of Academic Years Enrolled by Sector and Number of Institutions Attended: 2014-15 Bachelor’s Degree Recipients

Notes & Sources 

NOTES: One year of enrollment is defined as one academic year (30 weeks) of active, full-time enrollment. Half-time enrollment for two academic years counts as one year of full-time enrollment. The “Other” category in Figure 13B includes associate degree recipients at public four-year, private nonprofit, and for-profit institutions.

SOURCES: D. Shapiro, A. Dundar, P.K. Wakhungu, X. Yuan, A. Nathan, and Y. Hwang. (2016, September). Time to Degree: A National View of the Time Enrolled and Elapsed for Associate and Bachelor’s Degree Earners (Signature Report No. 11). Herndon, VA: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

  • The average enrollment period for earning a bachelor’s degree was 4.8 years at private nonprofit institutions, 5.2 years at public institutions, and 5.8 years at for-profit institutions.
  • Among both bachelor’s and associate degree recipients in all sectors, students who graduate from their starting institution spend less time enrolled than those who transfer to other institutions. For example, 65% of 2014-15 public four-year bachelor’s degree recipients who attended only one institution were enrolled for five years or less, compared with 48% of those who attended two institutions and 32% of those who attended three or more institutions. The shares of those enrolled for 7 or more years were 8%, 20%, and 36% for students who attended one, two, or three institutions, respectively.