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NCES Announces Final Plan for New Categories and Definitions for Classification of First-professional Degree Reporting in IPEDS

On July 20, 2006, NCES sought final comments from the higher education community on its proposal to implement new categories and definitions for classification of first-professional degree reporting in IPEDS ( Based on the comments received, NCES announces the following plan and implementation timeline.

Degree Definitions

Based on the Technical Review Panel (TRP) recommendations and the comments subsequently received, the first-professional degree category will be eliminated, master's degrees will be collected in a single category, and doctor's degrees will be collected in three categories: research/scholarship, professional practice, and other, as defined below:

  • Doctor's degree - research/scholarship - A Ph.D. or other doctor's degree that requires advanced work beyond the master's level, including the preparation and defense of a dissertation based on original research, or the planning and execution of an original project demonstrating substantial artistic or scholarly achievement. Some examples of this type of degree may include Ed.D., D.M.A., D.B.A., D.Sc., D.A., or D.M, and others, as designated by the awarding institution.
  • Doctor's degree - professional practice - A doctor's degree that is conferred upon completion of a program providing the knowledge and skills for the recognition, credential, or license required for professional practice. The degree is awarded after a period of study such that the total time to the degree, including both pre-professional and professional preparation, equals at least six full-time equivalent academic years. Some of these degrees were formerly classified as "first-professional" and may include: Chiropractic (D.C. or D.C.M.); Dentistry (D.D.S. or D.M.D.); Law (L.L.B. or J.D.); Medicine (M.D.); Optometry (O.D.); Osteopathic Medicine (D.O); Pharmacy (Pharm.D.); Podiatry (D.P.M., Pod.D., D.P.); or, Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.), and others, as designated by the awarding institution.
  • Doctor's degree - other - A doctor's degree that does not meet the definition of a doctor's degree - research/scholarship or a doctor's degree - professional practice.

In addition, the current first-professional certificate award category will be eliminated. Certificates previously counted in this category will be captured in the post-master's certificate category.

Implementation Schedule

Three components of the IPEDS collection will be affected by these changes: Institutional Characteristics; Enrollment; and Completions. Based on comments received from the higher education, NCES will implement the new definitions and categories for reporting Institutional Characteristics and Enrollment information with the 2008-09 data collection year. As with all changes to IPEDS, the first collection year would be optional, and the second year use of the new definition would be mandatory. For Completions data, implementation of the new categories would begin in the 2009-10 data collection year (reporting on awards granted between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009) as optional, becoming mandatory the following year. For any data collections prior to the implementation date, institutions should continue to report data on first-professional degree programs under the existing definition.


Questions regarding the changes outlined above can be addressed to Elise Miller


NCES encourages interested parties to send any comments or concerns about this proposal to Elise Miller, IPEDS Program Director, by March 16, 2007. Please include the following in the email subject line: First-Professional Degrees Categories - Final Plan Comments.


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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education