Institutional Research Common Terms

Definition of Common Terms

Academic Year
The period of time generally extending from September to May, usually two semesters and one winter term; the summer semester is included at the end of the academic year. Mount Mercy operates on a 4-1-4 calendar system.

Carnegie Classification
An institution classification coding structure developed by the Andrew W. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  Mount Mercy’s classification is Bac/Diverse: Baccalaureate Colleges—Diverse Fields, based on the IPEDS data from Fall 2008.

Census Date
For institutions operating under a traditional academic year calendar, enrollment is reported as of the institution’s official fall reporting date or October 15. (IPEDS)  Mount Mercy uses the last day to add of the fall semester as the Census Date.

Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP)
A taxonomic coding scheme for secondary and postsecondary instructional programs.  It is intended to facilitate the organization, collection, and reporting of program data using classifications that capture the majority of reportable data.  The CIP is the accepted federal government statistical standard on instructional program classifications and is used in a variety of education information surveys and databases. (IPEDS)

Class Level
Students are classified on the basis of earned credits, from all sources, by the following:

  • Freshmen: 0 – 29 credits
  • Sophomores: 30 – 59 credits
  • Juniors: 60 – 89 credits
  • Seniors: 90 + credits

Post baccalaureate students (already have a bachelor’s degree) seeking second bachelor’s degrees are considered to be at the senior level.

A self reported demographic item used to describe groups with which individuals affiliate or identify but does not necessarily denote scientific definitions of anthropological origins.

Fact Book
A yearly publication capturing and summarizing much of the important current and historical information about the University.  The fact book is intended to serve as an internal reference for information.  At Mount Mercy the fact book is titled, By the Numbers.

First-time, Full-time students – Freshmen Cohort
Students enrolled for the first time as freshmen on a full-time basis.

Fiscal Year
A 12-month period used for calculating annual financial reports.  Mount Mercy’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through the following June 30, and is designated by the calendar year in with the fiscal year ends.

Full-time Equivalent (FTE)
FTE for undergraduate students is the sum of credit hours attempted for part-time students, for a given semester, divided by 12 and added to the number of full-time students.

FTE for graduate students is the sum of credit hours attempted for part-time students, for a given semester, divided by 6 or 9 (depending on the reporting source), and added to the number of full-time students.

Full-time Student
Full-time refers to a semester load of 12 or more credit hours for an undergraduate student and a semester load of 6 or 9 credit hours (depending on the reporting source) for graduate students.

Graduation Rate
The percentage of students in a given cohort graduating within a specified period of time six years is the typical standard for measuring a first-time, full-time cohort’s graduation rate).  The six year graduation rate is commonly referred to as the Student Right to Know Graduation Rate.

The total count of students (unduplicated) for a given period of time, normally the semester, in which students are registered in course/s for credit.  The student is only counted once during the reporting period.

The core postsecondary education data collection program for NCES – a system of surveys designed to collect data from all primary providers of postsecondary education. IPEDS is a single, comprehensive system designed to encompass all institutions and educational organizations whose primary purpose is to provide postsecondary education. The IPEDS system is built around a series of interrelated surveys to collect institution-level data in such areas of enrollments, program completions, faculty, staff, and finances.  (IPEDS)

Part-time Student
Part-time refers to a semester load of less than 6 semester credit hours for an undergraduate student and a semester load of less than 6 or 9 semester hours (depends on reporting source) for a graduate student.