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Missouri progressing toward degree completion goal

Press release

This year marks the mid-point of Missouri’s progress toward the “Big Goal” of having 60 percent of working-age adults hold a degree or certificate by 2025. The goal was initially adopted by the state in 2011 and formally incorporated into the Coordinating Board for Higher Education’s Blueprint for Higher Education in 2015.

According to estimates based on the U.S. Census, 52.6 percent of Missourians have a college degree or certificate – an increase from 49.1 percent in 2011.

“The good news is that Missouri is progressing toward achieving its Big Goal,” said Zora Mulligan, Missouri commissioner of higher education. “Higher education institutions have increased efforts to improve completion rates for all students. These increases have also held true for racially diverse students.”

Many institutions graduated more students in 2017 than they did in 2011, despite a decline in the number of high school graduates across the state. On the whole, the number of students graduating from Missouri colleges and universities has increased by about 15 percent since 2011. The largest increases have occurred at community and technical colleges, which graduated 24 percent more students in 2017 than in 2011, and public universities, which have graduated 21 percent more students in the same period. Private institutions’ graduation numbers increased as well, with the total number increasing 9 percent between 2011 and 2017.

In addition to increasing the number of graduates, several institutions have made significant advances in improving graduation rates, meaning more students who start college are finishing.

Ten of 12 community colleges’ graduation rates have increased between 2011 and 2017 with four – Crowder College, Metropolitan Community College, North Central Missouri College, and State Fair Community College – increasing more than 5 percentage points. State Technical College of Missouri and Ozarks Technical Community College increased graduation rates significantly since the adoption of the Big Goal, with an increase of over 10 percentage points between 2011 and 2017.

Many private, not-for-profit institutions have also increased graduation rates significantly between 2011 and 2017, with 17 of the 24 increasing. The majority of those increased more than 5 percentage points, and several increased more than 10 percentage points. Culver-Stockton College, Fontbonne University, Hannibal-LaGrange University, Missouri Baptist University, Stephens College, and William Woods University increased 5 to 10 percentage points. Central Methodist University, College of the Ozarks, and St. Louis University increased more than 10 percentage points.

Seven of 13 public university campuses/institutions saw improved graduation rates between 2011 and 2017:  Missouri Southern State University, Missouri State University, Missouri Western State University, Southeast Missouri State University, Truman State University, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and University of Missouri-St. Louis.  Of those, four saw increases of 5 percentage points or greater:  Southeast Missouri State University, Truman State University, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and University of Missouri-St. Louis.

“Seeing this increase reminds us that the work colleges, universities, and the department is doing is moving the needle in the right direction,” said Mulligan. “More work is certainly required, but the half-way point toward achieving the Big Goal is an opportunity to thank all who work on college completion in Missouri.”

Download the “Big Goal” infographic and find more information here: