The retention and graduation data provided on these pages spans cohorts for all accredited degree programs offered by Gateway Seminary. As a predominantly commuter institution, the average Gateway student completes 13 credit hours per year, meaning that the typical student is half-time. As a result Gateway tracks retention over a time frame of 200% of the stated degree length (6 years for a 3-year MDIV and 4 years for all 2-year programs). All students (part-time and full-time) are tracked from the beginning of their enrollment.
- Cohort: The group of students entering into a degree program in a specific academic year. Included in this cohort are those who have changed degree programs (cease to be counted in original program and begin to be counted in the year in which they begin the new program) and transfer students who enter in that academic year.
- Number of students accepted into the (degree): Number of students accepted into the program.
- Number of accepted (degree) students who began program: Number of accepted students who enrolled in classes for that academic year.
- Number of students still enrolled in (degree): Students still making progress towards degree completion. As noted above, the typical Gateway student is half-time and therefore 200% of the stated degree completion time is evaluated rather than 150%.
- Number is students withdrawn from (degree): Students who have chosen to withdraw from the program or who are terminated from their degree program.
- Number of (degree) graduates: Those students who have completed all degree requirements and earned the degree.
- Number of students moved into another degree: Students who have chosen to stop pursuing one degree program and have been admitted to a different degree program within Gateway. These students have not transferred out of the institution so are not treated as drops. They are removed from their original cohort once they change degree programs and are counted in the cohort for the new degree program.
- Religion: Gateway tracks information for 8 denominational affiliations as well as an Unknown and an Other category.
- Ethnicity: Gateway tracks information for 6 ethnic designations as well as an Unknown and an Other category.
- Marital Status: Gateway reports two categories of marital status – married and single. Single encompasses any status outside of married.
- Year to Graduation: In addition to tracking which students complete their degree Gateway also tracks how long degree completion takes.
Some observations regarding retention/graduation data:
The status of efforts to strengthen student success indicators, including a narrative that interprets the meanings of data on graduation rates and time to degree.
Gateway has never received Title IV funds and as a result has never participated in IPEDS reporting. However, Gateway does report annually to WSCUC, ATS and to its denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. Until relatively recently, none of these reports requested retention and graduation statistics. Over the last few years, however, recognizing the value of this information, Gateway has made efforts to track retention and graduation data, including mining information from years past.
Over the last few years, especially since the 2011 EER, the Seminary has worked to refine its process of collecting, reviewing and utilizing retention and graduation data. At present the report is made available to faculty departments responsible for specific degrees and is utilized by the Degree Review Task Force which conducts the periodic (5-year) review of each degree.
While our current process tracks students in a fairly predictable manner (cohort year, degree, gender, ethnicity, etc.), we determined early in the process that the traditional retention statistics tracking 1) retention of students from first to second year of enrollment only, and 2) graduation rate at 150% of time to degree completion 3) for full-time students only, were not particularly helpful in our situation. Our review of student statistics demonstrates that the average Gateway student completes 13 credit hours per year, meaning that our typical student is a half-time student. As a result, accurate and meaningful data would have to extend at least to 200% of time to degree for a full-time student. Given the ATS-mandated length of a seminary MA (2 years) and a seminary MDiv (3 years). Gateway has determined it must engage in a process of tracking retention and graduation per cohort for a period of at least 6 years before it has realistic indications of student persistence and degree completions. Given the ATS standard that allows academic credit earned over the previous 10 years of study to count toward graduation, statistics over an even longer period is needed to track all students' persistence to graduation.
Gateway has also observed that identifying the students to be tracked is not as simple as it first appears. Gateway prepares numerous individuals whose intended vocation does not require a completed degree. For example, the International Mission Board (IMB) of the SBC (which maintains about 4000 missionaries under appointment) requires its appointees to have completed a minimum of 20 credit hours of theological education. Students preparing for IMB appointment often enroll in a degree program which they (intentionally) do not complete. While this appears in our graduation statistics as a failure to persist, it is in fact a pre-determined "completion" short of graduation. To date, Gateway has not discovered an accurate way to remove such students from its statistics and as a result expects to have retention/graduation numbers that are slightly, artificially low.
Gateway has also observed that meaningful evaluation of retention/graduation data is hampered by the lack of comparable data from peer schools. In the most recent reporting period, statistics indicate a retention rate of approximately 90% for students from first year to second year of study (all students, not just full-time), indicating a high degree of satisfaction with Gateway programs. Student Services surveys of students who do drop following their first semester or year indicate the two dominant reasons for doing so are financial stress, or personal/familial issues.
For students who persist in the Gateway system for six to eight years, the retention-graduation rate (i.e., the number of students who have either graduated or are still pursuing the degree) is approximately 60%. The challenge for Gateway is to determine if this 60% rate is "normal" for graduate seminary education. Peer data would help with this process, and the best place to look for this peer data would be to other ATS-accredited seminaries. Unfortunately, at the present time, while ATS requires the reporting of the number of graduates annually, it does not require the reporting of retention and graduation percentages in a detailed fashion, thus peer data is lacking.
To date, the Seminary efforts to compile data regarding student success has been fruitful. It has informed departmental discussions and degree program reviews. We anticipate that it will be even more helpful as we continue to improve and automate the reporting process and as ATS peer data comes available. The link below will take interested parties to enrollment, retention and graduation data sorted by degree program and by cohort (year of admission into a specific degree program) as well as statistics related to ethnicity and gender.