Best Four-Year Graduation Rates

Colleges and Universities with the Best Four-Year Graduation Rates

If you want to complete your bachelor's degree in four years, some colleges do much better than others. The 20 colleges and universities listed below all graduate 88% or more of their students in four years. Note that many factors influence graduation rates and the most selective colleges will always have an advantage when it comes to graduating a high percentage of students quickly -- they enroll students who are well prepared for college-level work, and most of their students will enter with AP course credits. You'll also notice from the list that private institutions outperform public institutions. Annapolis is the only public college to make the list. Be sure to read more about graduation rates to understand the factors that influence the numbers.

Annapolis - USNA
Annapolis - USNA. Rory Finneren / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Location: Annapolis, Maryland
  • School Type: Military Academy
  • Enrollment: 4,552 (all undergraduate)
  • Description: Annapolis is one of the most selective colleges in the country. All costs are covered, and students receive benefits and a modest monthly salary. Applicants must seek a nomination, usually from a member of congress. Upon graduation, all students have a five-year active duty obligation. Some officers pursuing aviation will have longer requirements. Located in Maryland, the Annapolis campus is an active naval base. Athletics are important at the Naval Academy, and the school competes in the NCAA Division I ​Patriot League.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Annapolis profile
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Boston College Campus
Boston College Campus. Juthamas / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Location: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
  • School Type: Private Jesuit university
  • Enrollment: 15,036 (10,076 undergraduates)
  • Explore the Campus: Boston College Photo Tour
  • Description: Located in a suburb of Boston with easy access to the city, Boston College is one of the oldest Jesuit university in the U.S., and it is the Jesuit university with the largest endowment. The campus, including St. Ignatius Church, is distinguished by its stunning Gothic architecture. The school always places high on rankings of national universities. The undergraduate business program is particularly strong. BC also has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences. The Boston College Eagles compete in the NCAA Division 1-A Atlantic Coast Conference.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Boston College profile
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Bowdoin College
Bowdoin College. sglickman / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Location: Brunswick, Maine
  • School Type: 1,777 (all undergraduate)
  • Enrollment: Private liberal arts college
  • Description: Located in a town of 21,000 on the Maine coast, Bowdoin takes pride in both its beautiful location and its academic excellence. For its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences, Bowdoin was awarded a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Eight miles away from the main campus is Bowdoin's 118-acre Coastal Studies Center on Orr's Island. Bowdoin recently changed their financial aid practices, and students can look forward to graduating with no loans.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Bowdoin College profile
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Bucknell University
Bucknell University. aurimasliutikas / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Location: Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
  • School Type: Small private university
  • Enrollment: 3,737 (3,607 undergraduates)
  • Description: Bucknell University has the feel of a liberal arts college with the course offerings of a comprehensive university. The engineering program is worth a close look, and the university's strengths in the liberal arts and sciences have earned it a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Admissions have grown increasingly selective in recent years. In athletics, the Bucknell University Bisons compete in the NCAA Division I Patriot League.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Bucknell University profile 
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Carleton College Skinner Chapel
Carleton College Skinner Chapel. TFDuesing / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Location: Northfield, Minnesota
  • School Type: Liberal arts college
  • Enrollment: 2,009 (all undergraduate)
  • Description: Located less than an hour from the Minneapolis / St. Paul area, Carleton's campus include beautiful Victorian buildings, a state-of-the-art recreation center and the 880-acre Cowling Arboretum. With about 2,000 students and over 200 faculty members, quality teaching truly gets top priority at Carleton College. Strengths in the liberal arts and sciences earned Carleton a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and the college typical ranks as one of the nation's ten best liberal arts colleges.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Carleton College profile
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Davidson College
Davidson College. functoruser / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Location: Davidson, North Carolina
  • School Type: Private liberal arts college
  • Enrollment: 1,743 (all undergraduate)
  • Description: Established by the Presbyterians of North Carolina in 1837, Davidson College is now one of the country's top liberal arts colleges. For a school of well under 2,000 students, Davidson is unusual for its strong Division I athletic program. The Wildcats compete in the NCAA Atlantic 10 Conference, and nearly a quarter of Davidson students participate in varsity athletics. On the academic front, Davidson was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Davidson College profile
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Duke University
Duke University. mricon
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Location: Durham, North Carolina
  • School Type: Private research university
  • Enrollment: 14,060 (6,496 undergraduates)
  • Description: Duke is one of the most prestigious and competitive universities in the south, and it frequently ranked nationally among the top ten universities. Duke is part of the "research triangle" with UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The area boasts the highest concentration of PhDs and MDs in the world. Duke's strengths in research and instruction have earned it membership in the Association of American Universities, and its strong liberal arts and sciences earned Duke a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. The Duke Blue Devils compete in the NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Duke University profile
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Georgetown University
Georgetown University. tvol / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • School Type: Private Jesuit research university
  • Enrollment: 14,826 (7,038 undergraduates)
  • Description: Georgetown's location in the capital has contributed to its sizable international student population and the popularity of the International Relations major. Bill Clinton stands out among Georgetown's notable alumni. Over half of Georgetown students take advantage of the many study abroad opportunities, and the university recently opened a campus in Qatar. For strengths in the liberal arts and sciences, Georgetown was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. On the athletic front, the Georgetown Hoyas compete in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Georgetown University profile
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Harvard University Memorial Hall
Harvard University Memorial Hall. timsackton / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • School Type: Private research university
  • Enrollment: 27,651 (10,257 undergraduates)
  • Explore campus in this Harvard University photo tour
  • Description: Harvard usually ranks #1 or #2 among the top universities. With an endowment in the tens of billions, Harvard has more financial resources at its disposal than any other university in the world. The result is a world-class faculty, high-level research and AAU membership, state-of-the-art facilities, and free tuition for students from families with modest income. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this Ivy League school is in close proximity to the hundreds of thousands of college students in the greater Boston area. Low achieving students need not apply -- Harvard has the lowest acceptance rate of any U.S. university.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Harvard University profile
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Haverford College Path
Haverford College Path. edwinmalet / flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Location: Haverford, Pennsylvania
  • School Type: Private liberal arts college
  • Enrollment: 1,190 (all undergraduate)
  • Description: Located on a beautiful campus outside of Philadelphia, Haverford offers its students a wealth of educational opportunities. The college typically ranks among the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Although strong in all areas of the liberal arts and sciences, Haverford is often noted for its superb science programs. The school's academic strengths earned it a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Haverford students have the opportunity to take classes at Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, and the University of Pennsylvania.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Duke University profile
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University of Notre Dame Golden Dome
University of Notre Dame Golden Dome. mandy pantz / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 90%
  • Location: Notre Dame, Indiana
  • School Type: Private Catholic research university
  • Enrollment: 11,992 (8,442 undergraduates)
  • Description: Located about 90 miles east of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame boasts that its undergraduate alumni have earned more doctorates than any other Catholic university. The school is highly selective and has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Roughly 70% of accepted students rank in the top 5% of their high school class. The university's 1,250-acre campus has two lakes and 137 buildings including Main Building with its well known Golden Dome. In athletics, many Notre Dame Fighting Irish teams compete in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the University of Notre Dame profile
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Olin College
Olin College. Paul Keleher / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Location: Needham, Massachusetts
  • School Type: Undergraduate engineering college
  • Enrollment: 339
  • Description: The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering was established in 1997 by a gift of over $400 million by the F. W. Olin Foundation. Construction began quickly, and the college welcomed its first class of students in 2002. Olin has a project-based, student-centered curriculum, so all students can plan to get their hands dirty in the lab and machine shop. The college is small -- just over 300 students total -- with a 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio. All enrolled students receive a significant Olin Scholarship.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Franklin W. Olin College profile
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Pomona College
Pomona College. CMLLovesDegus / Wikimedia Commons
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Princeton University
Princeton University. _Gene_ / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 90%
  • Location: Princeton, New Jersey
  • School Type: Private research university
  • Enrollment: 7,592 (5,113 undergraduates)
  • Description: Princeton, a member of the Ivy League, often vies with Harvard for the top spot on national rankings of top universities. Located in a town of about 30,000 people, Princeton’s beautiful 500-acre campus sits about an hour away from both New York City and Philadelphia. Princeton's strengths in research have earned it membership in the Association of American Universities. For its strong liberal arts and sciences, the university was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Princeton University profile 
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University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania. rubberpaw / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • School Type: Private research university
  • Enrollment: 24,599 (11,954 undergraduates)
  • Description: Founded by Benjamin Franklin, Penn should not be confused with Penn State or a public university. The University of Pennsylvania holds its own against the best of its Ivy League brethren. From Penn’s location in West Philadelphia, Center City is an easy walk across the Schuylkill river. With nearly 12,000 undergraduates and a similar number of graduate students, Penn has a diverse and bustling urban campus. For its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences, Penn was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and its strength in research has earned it membership in the Association of American Universities.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the University of Pennsylvania profile
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Vassar College
Vassar College. samuenzinger / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Location: Poughkeepsie, New York
  • School Type: Private liberal arts college
  • Enrollment: 2,453 (2,452 undergraduates)
  • Description: Vassar College, founded in 1861 as a women's college, now ranks as one of the top coeducational liberal arts colleges in the country. Vassar's 1,000-acre campus includes over 100 buildings, picturesque gardens and a farm. The college has an impressive 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio, and an average class size of 17. Vassar's strengths in the liberal arts and sciences earned it a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Vassar is located in the attractive Hudson Valley with New York City about 75 miles away.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Vassar College profile
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Washington and Lee University
Washington and Lee University. wsuhonors / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Location: Lexington, Virginia
  • School Type: Private liberal arts college
  • Enrollment: 2,153 (1,759 undergraduates)
  • Description: Founded in 1746, Washington and Lee University has a rich history. The university was endowed by George Washington in 1796, and Robert E. Lee was the president of the university immediately after the civil war. The school is one of the most selective in the United States with acceptance rates below 20% in recent years. Located in historic Lexington, Virginia, Washington and Lee's campus is among the nation's most attractive. Academics are strong: the university typically ranks among the top liberal arts colleges in the country, and the school has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Washington and Lee University profile 
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Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University. moyix / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Location: Middletown, Connecticut
  • School Type: Private liberal arts college
  • Enrollment: 3,148 (2,787 undergraduates)
  • Description: Wesleyan University is one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. While Wesleyan does have several graduate programs, the university has the feel of a liberal arts college with a predominantly undergraduate focus. Wesleyan has an impressive 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio, and the university's strengths in the liberal arts and sciences have earned it a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Students at Wesleyan are highly engaged in the campus community, and the university offers over 200 student organizations and a wide range of athletic teams.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Wesleyan University profile 
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Williams College
Williams College. WalkingGeek / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 93%
  • Location: Williamstown, Massachusetts
  • School Type: Private liberal arts college
  • Enrollment: 2,141 (2,085 undergraduates)
  • Description: Williams College typically vies with Amherst for the top spot on national rankings the best liberal arts colleges. One of Williams’ unique features is its tutorial program in which students meet with faculty in pairs to present and critique each other’s work. With a 7 to 1 student/faculty ratio and an endowment well over $1 billion, Williams offers exceptional educational opportunities for its students. The college has a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honors society.
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Williams College profile 
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Yale University
Yale University. Poldavo (Alex) / Flickr
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 90%
  • Location: New Haven, Connecticut
  • School Type: Private research university
  • Enrollment: 11,593 (5,275 undergraduates)
  • Description: Yale, with Princeton and Harvard, usually finds itself near the top of university rankings. This Ivy League school has an endowment over $15 billion and a 6:1 student/faculty ratio, so it’s easy to see why. For Yale's strengths in the liberal arts and sciences, the university was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Its excellent research programs have earned it membership in the Association of American Universities. Yale is an easy train ride to either New York City or Boston. 
  • For acceptance rate, test scores and other admissions data, read the Yale University profile 
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