Wildcats, PSU leaders in graduation rate

Northwestern and Penn State are among the top programs in the country when it comes to the NCAA's graduation success rate.

The latest graduation success rate scores were released on Thursday afternoon, and Northwestern is tied with Notre Dame for the highest rate in the FBS, at 97 percent. The Wildcats also led the nation in the latest academic progress rate (APR) scores that were released this summer.

"We continue to be proud of our student-athletes and the effort they put forth in the classroom that makes us a leader among our peers," Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips said in a statement released by the school. "We are especially proud of our football program for once again leading the nation in graduation rate data."

Penn State is No. 7 among all FBS schools at 91 percent.

“We are extremely proud of the outstanding academic successes and graduation rates by Penn State student-athletes," Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner said. “Penn State student-athletes continue to compete at the highest level nationally and their dedicated efforts are producing record-setting graduation rates and conference and national titles.”

The GSR includes transfer students and student-athletes who leave in good academic standing, unlike the federal graduation rate, which does include transfers. The GSR measures graduation over a six-year period from initial enrollment; these latest figures are a four-year average for freshmen who entered school between fall 2002 and fall 2005.

The average rate in FBS football is 70 percent, up one percent from last year. Five Big Ten schools exceeded that national average.

Here are the graduation success rate numbers for the entire Big Ten:

Northwestern: 97 percent

Penn State: 91

Iowa: 82

Illinois: 75

Ohio State: 74

Indiana: 70

Michigan: 69

Minnesota: 69

Nebraska: 68

Wisconsin: 65

Michigan State: 64

Purdue: 59