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Graduation Rates

Graduation rates can be a useful tool in evaluating schools. The federal government has developed a system for calculating graduation rates for schools like Caltech based on a freshman cohort and the length of the degree program. A first-time freshman cohort includes those entering Caltech directly from high school with no prior academic history at an institution of higher learning. There are two exceptions: if a student were to take college courses in the summer immediately before their first term at Caltech, or if the student has no college history but took college courses while in high school—under these circumstances students are included in the freshman cohort. Students transferring into Caltech from another college or university are not included in the freshman cohort or Caltech's publicized graduation rate.

Graduation rates are calculated for baccalaureate programs only—the federal government does not require institutions to report graduation rates for graduate programs—and are based on a 150% time-to-degree clock. This means that for a typical four-year bachelor's degree program, the graduation rate will be reflected in the number of students graduating in 150% of the normal time to degree—six years. If Caltech had five-year programs, the graduation rate would be adjusted to reflect those graduating in seven and a half years. All of Caltech's offerings are four-year programs.

Allowable exclusions: The federal government permits institutions to remove students from freshman cohorts under these circumstances:

  • Death or permanent disability
  • Leave Caltech to serve in the armed forces (or get called to active duty)
  • Service with a foreign aid agency of the federal government (e.g. Peace Corps)
  • Service on an official church mission

Our most recent six-year-old cohort started in the Fall of 2015 and their graduation rate appears below. Breakouts by gender, underrepresented minority status (URM), and low-income standing (Pell Grant) are provided. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Updated: May 2022

Six-Year Graduation Rates (Completers within 150% time) by Cohort Year

2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
Overall 91.5% 90.8% 93.6% 89.3% 92.0% 93.6% 91.6% 92.9%
Men 90.6% 90.3% 94.0% 87.7% 92.1% 93.1% 91.1% 91.4%
Women 92.8% 91.5% 93.1% 92.0% 91.8% 94.4% 92.2% 94.6%
URM 94.4% 79.4% 78.9% 79.4% 82.1% 89.7% 74.3% 90.0%
Non-URM 91.3% 92.6% 95.0% 90.9% 93.8% 94.1% 94.7% 93.3%
Recipient of Pell Grant 100% 100% 85.0% 84.0% 96.3% 100% 91.9% 88.0%

Freshman-to-Sophomore Retention Rates, Entering Cohorts 2013-14 to 2020-21

2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
Retention Rate 97.2% 97.3% 97.9% 98.3% 97.9% 98.3% 93.6% 99.1%