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Academic outcomes for Division I postgraduate student-athletes

NCAA research recently examined the educational pathways and outcomes for postgraduate student-athletes. Postgraduate student-athletes are those who earned their undergraduate degree with athletics eligibility remaining and continue to compete while either enrolled in undergraduate or graduate coursework. The major findings of this study include:

  • Most postgraduates (81%) continue their eligibility and education at their undergraduate institution, while only 19% are so-called “graduate transfers.”
  • Although it varies by sport, overall 76% of postgraduates enter graduate programs, while 24% pursue a second undergraduate major/degree or general post-baccalaureate coursework (Table 1).
  • Of those in graduate programs — either at their original destinations or as graduate transfers — 88% were enrolled in programs more than a year in length.
  • The two-year degree completion rate for graduate transfers (50%) is lower than that of graduate students who remain at their undergraduate school (70%) and is lowest in men’s basketball and football. Only 17% of postgraduates pursuing a second undergraduate major/degree complete that program (Figure 1).
  • Postgraduates who receive athletics aid post-eligibility graduate at higher rates than those who do not. This relationship is stronger among graduate transfers and athletes in men’s basketball and football.
Table 1. Postgraduate Program Enrollment
Program Type % of Postgraduate Enrollment Estimated Number per Year
Second degree or second major 16% 508
General coursework 7% 225
Certificate program <1% 6
Graduate degree (same institution) 54% 1,697
Graduate degree (transfer) 19% 580
General studies (non-degree seeking) 2% 59
Certificate program 1% 41

Download the full study results: Academic Outcomes for Division I Postgraduate Student-Athletes Results

Download a copy of this Extra Point: Academic outcomes for Division I postgraduate student-athletes

(Published June 2019)

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