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Berkeley students graduating in record numbers and in record time
15 January 2003

By Janet Gilmore, Media Relations

Berkeley - University of California, Berkeley, students, who will begin spring semester classes next Tuesday, are graduating faster and in larger numbers than ever before.

Graduation rates are at an all-time high, according to data released today (Wednesday, Jan. 15) by campus administrators. More students are obtaining their bachelor's degrees, and an increasing number are doing so in record time.

The recently released data show the following:

  • Students are graduating in fewer semesters. Among the students who entered as freshmen and graduated in the 2001-02 school year, 73 percent of them did so in eight or fewer semesters - a record number for such graduates.

  • Students with double majors are graduating sooner. Data show that 61.3 percent of them are graduating in eight or fewer semesters - another record number.

  • More students are graduating. Data show that a record 67.5 percent of the 2001-02 class that entered UC Berkeley as freshmen graduated in four and a half years, up from 65.6 percent the previous year. Further, 81.4 percent graduated in five years, up from 78.6 the previous year.

  • The average "time to degree" for entering freshmen has also set records. Freshmen who entered UC Berkeley in fall 1996 have lowered the average time to degree to a record 4.31 years, down from 4.34 years for the previous year.

  • The average time to degree for transfer students has been lowered. Students who transferred to UC Berkeley from community colleges in 1998 lowered the average time to degree to a record 2.36 years, down from 2.40 years for the previous year.

Richard Black, UC Berkeley assistant vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment, believes the trend reflects a number of positive developments. More students, he said, are attending summer sessions thanks to state funding and other initiatives designed to boost summer enrollment. Campus staff are working more closely with students to ensure that they are meeting the course requirements for their majors and their colleges. And more classes are being offered to students in the most populated majors, Black said.

"We are heartened that our long-term efforts to assist students in graduating in four years are paying off," said Black. "This allows room for more students to have an opportunity to obtain a UC Berkeley education."

In fact, UC Berkeley administrators believe this trend provides a wide range of benefits. Seniors who graduate can avoid fee increases. Administrators have more spaces available to enroll new freshmen and college transfer students. The faster graduation rates also assist the campus in keeping enrollment totals in line with commitments to the city of Berkeley.

This week, UC Berkeley officials sent letters by e-mail to most seniors, congratulating them on their efforts and offering tips on how they can stay on course and graduate in the spring or summer. If the recent data hold true, these students will likely continue a very impressive trend toward faster graduation.