The Persisting Racial Gap in College Student Graduation Rates

graduateNew data on graduation rates from the U.S. Department of Education shows that at the nation’s largest universities that participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I, the Black student graduation rate (for all students, not just athletes) in 2015 is 46 percent. The graduation rate is defined as all students entering a particular institution who graduate from that same institution with six years. For Whites, the graduation rate is 21 points higher at 67 percent. This roughly 20-percentage-point racial gap in college graduation rates has persisted for a quarter century.

When we break the figures down by gender, we see that Black men have a college graduation rate of 40 percent, whereas the rate for Black women is 49 percent. Since 2009, there has been a slight reduction in the gender gap in Black student graduation rates from 12 percentage points to nine percentage points.

For men the racial gap between Blacks and Whites is 25 percentage points. For women, the racial gap is 20 percentage points.

Related Articles


  1. As you so accurately point out, this racial gap in graduation rates from any college or university has persisted for over 25 years since data on race began to be collected. And this fact persists despite all the money spent on remediation and governmental programs such as Student Support programs (TRIO. There must be something wrong and I believe it starts with the universities placing the onus of graduating Blacks on Student Services instead of putting the problem where it belongs in the classroom and on the faculty.,

  2. the problem is twofold:

    a). poor/substandard k-12 preparation and;
    b). economics. you need MONEY to graduate, and often black people do not have the financial backing required to make it through

    REPARATIONS — which could include a waiver of tuition and fees for black american undergraduates — could soundly address this problem. but where is the political energy…?

    • but if your not prepared for the curriculum a waiver wont help your grades.

      they need to show the drop out rate to get a clear picture

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Three African Americans Appointed to New Academic Positions

Leon Prieto, Kofi Afrifah, and Andrea Moore have been appointed to new academic positions at Clayton University, Bowie State University, and Savannah State University, respectively.

Historic HBCU Landmark Revitalized Through National Park Service Grant

Through three restoration grants totaling $2 million, the Rosenwald Practice School and Principal House will be fully restored, becoming the new home for the Northeastern North Carolina African American Research and Cultural Heritage Institute.

Five Black Leaders Appointed to Administrative Positions

Here is this week’s roundup of African American who have been appointed to new administrative positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to

North Carolina A&T University Establishes Research Partnership with Collins Aerospace

“There are direct relations to the research we do in the College of Engineering and the mission purpose of Collins Aerospace,” said Stephanie Luster-Teasley, interim dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. “Being able to partner with Collins really gives our students the opportunities for hands-on research at each level – undergraduate and graduate.”

Featured Jobs