To address the research questions, the Working Group analyzed subbaccalaureate certificate data reported in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) between 2007-08 and 2010-11 to identify institutions for a more in-depth review of certificate programs and IPEDS data reporting processes. Using data on certificates awarded, student enrollment, and institutional sector, the Working Group identified nine institutions to interview. The nine institutions represented a mix of public, private nonprofit, and for-profit institutions, 2-year institutions (the institutions that report the highest number of subbaccalaureate certificates) and 4-year institutions that have awarded such certificates, as well as state system offices. Table A-1 shows the institutions that agreed to participate in the study.
During the interviews the Working Group also gathered information on other industry-sponsored certificates or noncredit certificates awarded at the institution, and whether the institution collects and reports data on those certificates to other organizations or agencies.
The Working Group also examined other federal collections of certificate data and compared the definitions and data elements to those used in IPEDS. Specifically, the Working Group reviewed the National Center for Education Statistics sample surveys and other federal data collections (i.e., Census and Workforce Investment Act), and data collected by other research organizations studying certificate completion (i.e., Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and Complete College America).