Irish student-athletes are No. 1 in federal graduation rate survey

Author: Dennis Brown


The graduation rate for student-athletes at the University of Notre Dame is the highest in the nation among Division I-A colleges and universities in an annual federal report for the Department of Education, and is the second-highest in a new survey developed by the NCAA.

Notre Dames federal graduation rate is 90.4 percent, according to statistics released Thursday (Jan. 19) by the NCAA, slightly ahead of Duke University at 89.6 percent as the best among the major football-playing schools of Division I-A. The federal rate is based on the raw percentage of student-athletes who entered an institution and graduated with six years. Students who leave or transfer, regardless of academic standing, are considered nongraduates.

Notre Dame ranks second among Division I-A schools on another scale, called the Graduation Success Rate (GSR), which was developed last year by the NCAA. The Universitys 98 percent GSR is second only to the 99 percent of the U.S. Naval Academy, which, like all the military academies, is exempt from the federal survey because it does not offer grants-in-aid to student-athletes.

The Graduation Success Rate was created to more accurately reflect actual graduation rates by including transfer data in the calculation. College and university presidents asked the NCAA to develop a new methodology that takes into account the mobility among students in todays higher education environment. Research indicates that approximately 60 percent of all new bachelors degree recipients are attending more than one undergraduate institution during their collegiate careers.

The remainder of the top five after Notre Dame and Duke among I-A universities in the federal survey are Stanford at 88 percent, Northwestern at 86 percent, and Rice at 83 percent. On the GSR, the rest of the top five I-A schools following Navy and Notre Dame are Clemson and Northwestern, both at 97 percent, and Duke at 93 percent.

The data for both surveys is based upon the entering classes from 1995 to 1998.

The two graduation rate reports should not be confused with another new NCAA initiative, the Academic Progress Rate, which uses a series of formulas related to student-athlete retention and eligibility to measure the academic performance of all participants who receive a grant-in-aid on every team at every NCAA Division I college and university.

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