For the sixth year in a row, graduation rates for first-time, full-time students at Michigan State University increased, this time by more than half a percentage point. At the same time, graduation rates for students identifying as Hispanic/Latinx increased by 3 percentage points, for Asian students by 7 percentage points and for Black/African American students by 2 percentage points.
“Successful student graduation represents the transformative effect of higher education and validates the efforts of our community of faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and donors,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “Seeing rates increase, particularly in underrepresented populations, is consistent with our goal of providing education access to all students at MSU.”
“I'm happy but not satisfied,” added Teresa K. Woodruff, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “I am pleased with the direction of our progress in this area. We are working to provide proactive and responsive mechanisms toward a future that enables all of our learners to complete their degrees.”
The graduation rate for first-time, full-time students entering MSU in 2014 increased by 0.6 percentage points to 81.3% from last year’s rate of 80.7%. The graduation rate for international students increased from 79% to 81%, and the rate for out-of-state students increased to 76% from 73%.
While the number of students is small, the graduation rate for American Indian/Alaska Native students increased the most of any group, going up 14 percentage points from 67% to 81%. The rate for Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students increased 11 percentage points from 67% to 78%.
“The positive trends we are seeing demonstrate our belief that every student we admit has the capacity to thrive and graduate as well as our commitment to support them as they learn and succeed,” said Mark Largent, associate provost for undergraduate education and dean of undergraduate studies. “Although these trends are positive, there is more work to be done and we are committed to meet our students’ needs and we help them navigate their way to graduation.”
MSU’s multi-faceted approach to promoting student success is anchored by its nationally recognized Neighborhoods program that brings academic, health and other support services directly into campus residential buildings. Spartan Compass, which focuses on the first-year experience, and Spartan Navigator, which focuses on the second-year experience (delayed due to COVID-19), were designed to provide support for students during their first two years at MSU.
The campus-wide campaign to encourage students to take 15 credits or more each semester is another part of the MSU student success formula. Taking a full course load helps students graduate in four years, regardless of their academic background, first-generation status, family financial situation, race, ethnicity or gender. MSU’s flat-rate tuition model is based on 15 credits for undergraduate students taking between 12 and 18 credits.
Next fall, the university is reinstating a two-year campus residency requirement for new undergraduates aimed at helping them persist through college and graduate. Research shows undergraduates who live on campus their first two years at MSU have graduation rates 2.5 percentage points higher than their peers who live on campus only their first year.