• Graduation rates vary widely among US colleges and universities.
  • Using data from the Department of Education, we found a weighted average of graduation rates for colleges and universities located in each state and DC.
  • Colleges in many states in the South and Mountain West had relatively low graduation rates.
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Colleges across the US have different graduation rates, and as the map above shows, those rates vary from state to state.

The Department of Education provides data on the share of undergraduate students who complete their degree within 150% of the expected time – that is, graduating within six years for a standard four-year bachelor’s degree. For each state, we took an average of those graduation rates among all the colleges and universities in that state that mainly award bachelor’s degrees, as opposed to certificate programs or associates degrees.

Those graduation rates were among first-time, full-time students who entered college in the 2011-2012 academic year, six years before the 2017-2018 year, the most recent year for which data was available. State rates were calculated by taking the average rate among all schools in-state, weighted by the size of each school’s entering class in 2011.

Here are the 15 states with the lowest weighted average college graduation rate:


15. Alabama: 51.8% of students at colleges in Alabama graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceScott Halleran/Getty Images

Prominent colleges in Alabama include Auburn and the University of Alabama.

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14. South Dakota: 51.5% of students at colleges in South Dakota graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceUniversity of South Dakota/Facebook

Prominent colleges in South Dakota include South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota.


13. Tennessee: 50.7% of students at colleges in Tennessee graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceVia Wikimedia Commons

Prominent colleges in Tennessee include Vanderbilt, the University of Memphis, and the University of Tennessee.


12. Louisiana: 49.8% of students at colleges in Louisiana graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceFlickr/Tulane Public Relations

Prominent colleges in Louisiana include Tulane University and the University of Louisiana.


11. Kentucky: 49.2% of students at colleges in Kentucky graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceKevin C. Fox/Getty

Prominent colleges in Kentucky include the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.


10. Idaho: 47.4% of students at colleges in Idaho graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceLoren Orr/Getty Images

Prominent colleges in Idaho include Boise State University and Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus in Rexburg.


9. Montana: 47.3% of students at colleges in Montana graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceMontana State University/Facebook

Prominent colleges in Montana include Montana State University and the University of Montana.


8. West Virginia: 47.0% of students at colleges in West Virginia graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceWikipedia

Prominent colleges in West Virginia include Marshall University and West Virginia University.


7. Arkansas: 46.9% of students at colleges in Arkansas graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceNatalia Bratslavsky/Shutterstock

Prominent colleges in Arkansas include Harding University and the University of Arkansas.


6. Oklahoma: 46.3% of students at colleges in Oklahoma graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceKen Wolter/Shutterstock

Prominent colleges in Oklahoma include the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.


5. Nevada: 45.1% of students at colleges in Nevada graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceUniversity of Nevada, Reno/Facebook

Prominent colleges in Nevada include the University of Nevada and Nevada State College.


4. New Mexico: 43.6% of students at colleges in New Mexico graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceNMSU

Prominent colleges in New Mexico include the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University.


3. Georgia: 42.6% of students at colleges in Georgia graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceMav/Wikimedia Commons

Prominent colleges in Georgia include Emory University and Georgia Tech.


2. Alaska: 26.4% of students at colleges in Alaska graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceUniversity of Alaska Fairbanks/Facebook

Prominent colleges in Alaska include the University of Alaska.


1. Arizona: 26.3% of students at colleges in Arizona graduated within six years.

Foto: sourceTim Roberts Photography/Shutterstock

Prominent colleges in Arizona include the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.