4-Year Goal: 40%; 2020: 31%. 6-Year Goal: 70%; 2020: 62%
Press Release Graduation Initiative

Graduation Initiative 2025 Leads to Record Highs in Student Achievement



4-Year Goal: 40%; 2020: 31%. 6-Year Goal: 70%; 2020: 62%



​​​​​​​Student achievement throughout the California State University (CSU) as measured by graduation rates has increased to an all-time high under Graduation Initiative 2025. This data was shared today with the CSU community by Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Loren J. Blanchard during a live-streamed university-wide event.

Graduation Initiative 2025 is the university's flagship effort to increase graduation rates, eliminate equity gaps in degree ​completion and meet California's workforce needs. Some of the data Blanchard shared included:

  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​The four-year graduation rate for first-time students increased to 31% compared to the prior year.
  • The six-year graduation rate for first-time students remained at 62%.
  • First-time students are taking a higher average of units per term (14.64) than ever before.

The university has made even greater year-over-year progress with transfer students:

  • The two-year graduation rate for transfer students has increased to 44%, just shy of the 45% goal targeted for 2025.
  • The four-year graduation rate for tr​ansfer students has increased to 79%.

“The record achievements of CSU students is a testament to their persistence and flexibility in navigating the pivot to virtual instruction and support made necessary by the ongoing pandemic," said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “It is also a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff who overcame unp​recedented challenges to advance the university's mission."

The CSU also continues to make progress toward Graduation Initiative 2025's other key goal: eliminating equity gaps. While all students are graduating at higher rates, equity gaps have also narrowed year over year; the gap between underrepresented minority students and their peers decreased from 11.1 to 10.5 percentage points and the gap between students who receive Pell Grants and their peers narrowed from 10.2 to 9.3 percentage points.

Graduation Initiative 2025 was launched by White in 2015 and this year marks the final progress report under his leadership, with White retiring from his role as chancellor in early January 2021. Under White, the CSU experienced record gains:

  • The four-year graduation rate for first-time students increased from 19% to 31%.
  • The six-year graduation rate for first-time students increased from 57% to 62%.
  • The two-year graduation rate for transfer students increased from 31% to 44%.
  • The four-year graduation rate for transfer students increased from 73% to 79%.

Another notable milestone especially relevant during the Covid-19 pandemic: The CSU recorded a record retention rate, with 85.5% of 2019's first-year students returning to campus for the fall 2020 term.

“I have never been more proud of our students for the extraordinary determination they have demonstrated by continuing to persevere and make progress toward that life-changing CSU degree," stated White.

Final data from the 2019-20 academic year will be presented to CSU's trustees during the November 2020 Board of Trustees meeting.

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About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 53,000 faculty and staff and 482,000 students. Half of the CSU's students transfer from California community colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity, and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards more than 125,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 3.8 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.​​​​