In recent years, the Oklahoma legislature has enacted policies to promote college access and affordability. The Oklahoma Promise program has had a positive impact on high school graduates enrolling and succeeding in college, yet postsecondary participation remains below the national average for all age groups. While state leaders should continue to invest in programs that increase college-going and completion rates of high school students, targeting older populations presents an opportunity for Oklahoma to increase the number of citizens with postsecondary credentials.

Increasing postsecondary participation of older adults also could contribute to the economic growth that already is strong in particular industries, such as agriculture, oil/natural gas, and telecommunications. Further, this strategy could respond to the high numbers of individuals who migrate to Oklahoma, many of whom do not hold college degrees.

State leaders also should consider developing a statewide strategy to align postsecondary degrees with workforce demands, and creating pathways for adults to enter or return to college to attain other credentials. Such efforts have the potential to help Oklahoma maintain a competitive edge in a changing economy.


  • Adults 25-64 with college degrees: 43rd (31.7% vs. 38%)
  • High school graduates going directly to college: 42nd (56% %vs. 63.3%)
  • Undergraduate awards per 100 FTE undergraduates: 14th (20.8% vs. 19%)
  • STEM credentials awarded per 1,000 STEM employees:13th (72.5% vs. 54.4%)
  • Workers with college degrees earning low wages: 31st (25.5% vs. 22.9%)


Oklahoma Data Profile

Oklahoma Data PowerPoint


The college attainment rate in Oklahoma is substantially lower than the national average, due in large part to the low rates of college participation, both for recent high school graduates and older adults. Although postsecondary retention rates are comparable to the national average, low attainment will continue to be a problem for two reasons. First, young adults are not entering college immediately, and those adults who dropped out are not returning to college with great regularity. Second, population growth among Latinos and the rate of migration into the state create capacity issues for both postsecondary education and the workforce. Low degree attainment is a salient issue because it produces similarly low wages.


  • Concerning the Use of Data for Policy Reform, Accountability — SB 222 (2009)
  • Concerning the Higher Learning Access Program — SB 1038 (2008)
  • Powers and Duties of the State Board of Career & Technology Education — HB 2983 (2006)
  • Using Funds to Promote Career and Technical Education Programs — HB 2139 (2006)
  • Developing an Systemwide Articulation Agreement — O.S. Title 70, Sec. 3207.1
  • Concerning the Oklahoma’s Promise Scholarship — SB 326 (2003)

Boosting College Completion has produced a comprehensive 50-state legislative database related to college completion and workforce development. The database will  grow as we continue to collect and analyze policies.

Check out the BCC database for a more complete summary of Oklahoma’s policies. Click on the Menu arrow for additional options, such as printing the summary.

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Boosting College Completion has developed a policy profile for Oklahoma based on an analysis of data and policies related to college completion and workforce development.

Oklahoma Policy Profile

Governor Mary Fallin has proposed a new goal for postsecondary education in Oklahoma: increase degree productivity by 67% by 2023. To keep pace, state higher education institutions would have to increase output by 1,700 college graduates per year. To increase productivity, the state legislature will have to leverage its authority to adapt existing policies to new college completion goals and strategies. In the last decade, the state legislature has created task forces, data systems, college access programs and statewide transfer agreements. In doing so, the legislature has committed to studying the completion challenge and developing programs to meet it.

While the governor has set completion targets, the legislature is situated to develop and implement the policies that will make the 2023 goal attainable. To meet the goal, the legislature might consider:

  1. Evaluating how to use financial aid as an incentive to attract older adults to postsecondary education, and studying the potential for using the aid program to encourage students to enter high-demand fields.
  2. Examining how to improve the education and workforce outcomes for the one in four Oklahomans who entered college but never finished a credential.
  3. Structuring postsecondary and workforce programs and strategies to meet needs in four high-demand areas: business and management, health and healthcare, education and STEM.


News & Updates


Efficiency and Effectiveness of Oklahoma Higher Education under Study

Governor Fallin, Higher Education Officials Unveil College Degree Completion Plan


Policy Leaders






Sen. John Ford, chair, Education Committee






Sen. Jim Halligan, chair, Appropriation Subcommittee on Education





Oklahoma is participating in the following national initiatives that are related to postsecondary readiness, college completion and workforce development:

American Diploma Project (ADP)

Achieving the Dream (ATD)

Common Core Standards Initiative

Complete College America (CCA)

PARCC Assessment Consortium



The following resources were produced by Boosting College Completion, state agencies and postsecondary systems.

Oklahoma Data Profile

Oklahoma Data PowerPoint

Oklahoma Policy Profile

College Completion in Oklahoma and the Impact on the Workforce and Economy

Higher Education Annual Report, 2010 (Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education)

Oklahoma’s Promise: 2009-10 Year-End Report


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