Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

Retention and six-year graduation rates have increased in relevance and importance within the last decade. As costs for post-secondary education continue to rise, the need to graduate on time becomes more important to both the student and the institution. Public, four-year, research universities currently have a 63 percent six-year graduation rate over the past decade (U.S. Department of Education). An average 20 percent of the students entering these same institutions are leaving after their freshman year (U.S. Department of Education). Institutions across the United States have started prioritizing these measures of success.

The goal of this research study is to examine the amount that certain variables may affect student success in post-secondary education. The current issue facing institutions is how to increase first-year retention rates and continue to maintain the student enrollment until graduation. A variety of factors that are commonly associated with retention and graduation rates in the literature are included in the analysis. This study attempts to fill a gap in the literature concerning institutions with medical centers on campus. There are two research questions. 1) Does the existence of a medical center affect expenditure patterns? 2) Does a medical center on campus affect six-year graduation rates or retention rates either directly or indirectly?

This study included 137 four-year, public, research universities in the United States. Approximately half of the institutions have a medical center on campus. The panel data set is from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) spanning the years 2008 to 2013. This study used a between effects regression analysis to estimate the effect of average levels of the cost of instruction on a variety of variables. I also completed both a between effects regression analysis and a fixed effects regression analysis to estimate the effects of average levels and changes, respectively, of retention and graduation rates.

The analysis shows that the existence of a medical center on campus affects expenditure patterns. Institutions with medical centers spend on average $6,300 more on instruction per student. There were statistically significant results with percent of students admitted and student-faculty ratio as well. The greater amount the cost of instruction per student yields a lower student-faculty ratio.

The results show that there is no statistical evidence that medical centers affect six-year graduation rates or retention rates. Therefore, it is no more likely for a student to succeed if they attend an institution with a medical center on campus or an institution without a medical center on campus. Student success often relates to other factors of the university. Variables such as out-of-state cost, per cent admitted, and ethnicity do impact retention and graduation rates.