Press Release Graduation Initiative

Graduation Rates for First-Time and Transfer Students Reach All-Time Highs


Record number of students earn high-quality bachelor’s degrees under Graduation Initiative 2025.


​​​​​Preliminary, university-wide data shared by California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy P. White indicated that four- and six-year graduation rates for first-time students and two- and four-year rates for community college transfer students continue to increase and have reached all-time highs. Chancellor White shared the information during the university's Graduation Initiative 2025 Symposium in Sacramento on October 17.

“The fruits born from Graduation Initiative 2025 – namely, thousands more Californians earning high-quality degrees – are a shining example of what can be achieved when dedicated faculty, staff and administrators are committed to innovation in support of student success," said White. “However, while CSU students have greater opportunities than ever before, we can – and must – do even more."

Graduation Initiative 2025 is the CSU's university-wide plan to increase graduation rates, eliminate equity gaps in degree completion and meet California's workforce needs. The preliminary data shows:

  • The four-year graduation rate for first-time students has increased to 27.5 percent in 2019, up from 19.3 percent at the beginning of the initiative in 2015.
  • The six-year graduation rate for first-time students has increased to 62.1 percent, up from 57.3 percent in 2015.
  • The two-year graduation rate for transfer students has increased to 40.4 percent, up from 30.6 percent in 2015.  
  • The four-year graduation rate for transfer students has increased to 77.5 percent, up from 73.0 percent in 2015.

While the CSU does not expect linear gains year-to-year, the two-year transfer rate is two years ahead of the estimated trajectory for meeting the Graduation Initiative's goal of 45 percent.

CSU campuses also continue university-wide efforts to make further progress toward eliminating equity gaps, another key priority under the initiative.

The CSU has identified six areas of operational focus to achieve success measures, and each campus uses varied intentional strategies to improve student achievement. Across the CSU's 23 campuses, the university conferred a record number of bachelor's degrees in 2019 with 107,319, the second consecutive year the university has awarded more than 100,000 baccalaureate degrees.

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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, 52,000 faculty and staff and 481,000 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 3.7 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.​