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It is well known that human capital is enhanced by graduation from a college or university. How efficient are such institutions in conveying this mark of human capital? Efficiency and productivity in private higher education is measured by using undergraduate graduation rates as the output, and demographic variables, the quality of the students, and the annual expenditures (adjusted for academic mission) as inputs. Tests of several models using OLS and stochastic frontier analysis confirm that private schools can increase their graduation rates by increasing focused expenditures and through more selective admissions. Estimated elasticities are reported and point toward increasing expenditures as the most responsive method. Estimate graduation efficiencies of 93.0, 91.5, and near 100% are also reported for four, five and six year graduation rates respectively. A rank correlation with the U S News and World Report 2008 rankings is consistent with our measure of relative efficiencies.


Suggested Citation
Kokkelenberg, E.C., Sinha, E., Porter, J.D., & Blose, G.L. (2008). The efficiency of private universities as measured by graduation rates [Electronic version]. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations site:

Required Publisher Statement
Published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, Cornell University.