Public Disclosure – Student Achievement

In its Policy on Institutional Obligations for Public Disclosure, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires that institutions publish "statements of its goals for student achievement and the success of students in achieving those goals." Federal Requirement 4.1 (Student Achievement) requires institutions to disclose such information during the Fifth-Year Interim Report and the decennial reaffirmation of accreditation.

In February 2014, the provost met with his vice provosts and the six academic college deans to determine student achievement goals and to set thresholds for each of these success indicators. Each threshold constitutes a minimum standard that, if not met, would cause serious concern on the part of academic leadership and would result in concerted attention and action by the Institute.

The disclosure below is intended to satisfy SACSCOC policy requirements in between routine compliance certifications. This information is updated prior to the beginning of each academic year.

Retention Rates

Freshman retention rates are standard metrics used by institutions of higher education across the nation, and are congruent with Georgia Tech’s mission to promote high levels of student achievement. Detailed reports of freshmen and transfers—containing breakdowns by college, gender, and ethnicity—are provided to deans, associate deans, and other appropriate institutional personnel each fall. These form a core set of reports used to evaluate the effectiveness of Georgia Tech’s policies with regard to student achievement in the areas of instructional faculty, admissions, support services, and academic programs.

In August 2012, as part of its commitment to the Complete College Georgia Plan, Georgia Tech committed to increasing its first-time freshman retention rate to 95 percent and its six-year graduation rate to 84 percent. These stretch goal targets were selected based on the average retention and graduation rates of Georgia Tech’s peers. Georgia Tech has participated in Complete College Georgia since 2012.

In addition, the Institute establishes thresholds for average undergraduate retention rates. Institutional performance is noted in the table below.

Success Criterion Cohort Recent Performance Threshold
First-Time, Full-Time Freshman Retention 2015 97.3% 90%

Graduation Rates

Graduation rates are standard metrics used by institutions of higher education across the nation, and are congruent with Georgia Tech’s mission to promote high levels of student achievement.

Georgia Tech monitors the degree progress of its graduate students by tracking time to degree and cohort graduation rates. Because there is considerable variability in the purpose and nature of the Institute’s master’s programs, and the fact that there is little peer data against which to compare, it is difficult to establish targets for these programs.

However, time to degree and graduation rates for master’s students are reported to academic leadership by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning. Georgia Tech has chosen instead to focus on the graduation rates of its doctoral students, where prior national efforts have established a framework for tracking graduation rates and where a number of the Institute’s peers have been working to share data through the American Association of Universities (AAU) Data Exchange.

The Council of Graduate Schools engaged in a long-term research effort called the Ph.D. Completion Project designed to evaluate doctoral completion rates and attrition patterns. This national study of completion rates discovered that across all doctoral programs in the study, 50.9 percent of doctoral students completed their degrees within eight years of matriculation. Using similar methodology, Georgia Tech has established an eight-year completion rate for its Fall 2005 cohort of 62.9 percent.

As participation in the AAU data exchange grows, the Institute expects to conduct more detailed analyses by comparing disciplinary graduation rates at Georgia Tech to those of selected peer institutions. Institutional performance is noted in the table below.

Success Criterion Cohort Recent Performance Threshold
Six-Year Completion Rates (for Bachelor’s Students) 2010 86.3% 75%
Six-Year Completion Rates (for Bachelor’s Students) 2009 84.7% 75%
Eight-Year Completion Rates (for PhD students) 2008 68.5% 50-55%

Employment Rates

Baccalaureate and graduate alumni are surveyed between three and five years after graduation to compile information on professional placement, further education planned or completed, career satisfaction, salary levels, and related information.

Data from these surveys are disseminated to the appropriate academic units for use in evaluating the relevance of Georgia Tech’s curricula. Survey respondents are asked to describe their current employment status.

Similar to the methodology used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Georgia Tech calculates the “employment rate” by starting with all survey respondents and subtracting those who are either “unemployed, not seeking employment,” or “currently enrolled as a full-time student.” The remaining respondents are either “employed full-time (35+ hours per week), employed part time (34 hours per week or less),” or “unemployed but seeking employment.”

Georgia Tech’s target threshold for both baccalaureate and graduate alumni is that 90 percent of job-seeking respondents will report either full- or part-time employment. Institutional performance is noted in the table below.

Success Criterion Recent Performance Threshold
Employment Rates 97.3% (BS) 
97.3% (MS) 
98.1% (PhD)
90% of alumni not enrolled in additional degree programs 

Licensing and Certification Examinations

The use of licensure exam pass rates as a success metric holds limited value across the Institute. Where possible, Georgia Tech tracks student achievement on licensure exams. At Georgia Tech, engineering is the principal field with licensure options. While about 60 percent of BS graduates receive a degree in engineering, only a limited number of engineering graduates in specific disciplines within the College of Engineering (civil, environmental, electrical, and mechanical engineering) routinely pursue licensure in significant numbers.

For these majors, Georgia Tech routinely collects performance on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). NCEES provides results for Georgia Tech students, along with national performance indicators, through annual reports that are distributed to relevant academic administrators within the College of Engineering.

For those academic programs with substantial numbers of test-takers (normally n > 10), the expectation is that pass rates for Georgia Tech students will meet or exceed the national average. Institutional performance is noted in the table below.

Success Criterion Recent Performance Threshold
Licensing Exam Pass Rates 86.7% (AY 2013 - GT Pass Rate) 
76% (National Pass Rate)
GT examinees’ pass rates will meet or exceed the national average of FE test takers