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CTES Tables on the Web: Postsecondary Level Glossary

Award/Credential refers to the following undergraduate certificates and degrees awarded by postsecondary institutions:

  • Certificate:As used in these tables, a certificate refers to an award granted for the successful completion of a subbaccalaureate postsecondary program of study. Certificates require the equivalent of less than 4 academic years of full-time college-level study. Certificates, as classified by length, can require: (1) less than 1 year of study, (2) at least 1 but less than 2 years of study, or (3) at least 2 but less than 4 years of study. These certificates are usually awarded in a career education field and may cover the same coursework as an associate’s degree, but without the general education requirements.
  • Associate’s degree: A degree granted for the successful completion of a subbaccalaureate program of study, usually requiring the equivalent of at least 2 but less than 4 full-time academic years of college-level study.
  • Bachelor’s degree: A degree granted for the successful completion of a baccalaureate program of studies, usually requiring the equivalent of at least 4 but not more than 5 full-time academic years of college-level study.

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Career/technical or occupational education, field of study, or teaching field refers to instruction in one of these 13 occupational fields: agriculture and natural resources; business management; business support; communications and design; computer and information sciences; education; consumer (or personal) services (e.g., cosmetology, culinary arts); engineering, architecture, and science technologies; health sciences; manufacturing, construction, repair, and transportation; marketing; protective services (e.g., fire protection, corrections); and public, legal, and social services. In some cases, categories were combined into larger groupings (e.g., business management, business services, and marketing combined into “business and marketing”). See the postsecondary taxonomy for further detail and a crosswalk to the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP).

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Control and type/level of institution refers to an institution's operational organization and the level of instruction it provides. An institution’s control is determined based on whether the institution is operated by publicly elected or appointed officials and derives its primary support from public funds (public institution) or by privately elected or appointed officials and derives its major source of funds from private sources (private institution). A second distinction, between private for-profit (or proprietary) and private not-for-profit institutions, is also included in these tables. Type/level of institution refers to the highest level of credential (postsecondary certificate or degree) awarded by the institution—4-year or higher (4-year), 2-year or higher but less than 4-year (2-year), and less-than-2-year. The various types of for-profit institutions (4-year, 2-year, and less-than-2-year) are combined into one category in these tables.

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Credential see award/credential

Credential goal refers to the level of credential a student intends to obtain—certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree (see award/credential).

Credential-seeking undergraduate is a student who is enrolled in a program to earn a postsecondary certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree (see award/credential).

Curriculum area divides students' major field of study into the following three broad areas: Career/technical or occupational education (see career/technical or occupational field of study), academic education (fine and performing arts, interdisciplinary studies, humanities, letters/English, mathematics, science, and social sciences), and undeclared (student field of study not yet decided upon) or unknown (teaching field missing or unspecified). See the postsecondary taxonomy for further detail and links to the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP).

Field of study classifies students into three broad categories based on their major field of study: academic field of study (e.g., fine and performing arts, humanities, mathematics, and science), career/technical or occupational field of study (e.g., business and marketing, computer sciences, education, health care), and undeclared field of study. See the postsecondary taxonomy for more information on fields of study.

Level of offering refers to the level of undergraduate credential awarded by an institution (see award/credential). Some tables present statistics on all levels of undergraduate credentials that an institution awards (i.e., all offerings levels), while other tables present only the highest level of undergraduate credential awarded (i.e., the highest level of offerings).

Parents' highest level of education is defined based on the highest level of education completed by either of the student’s parents. If one parent’s education level was unknown, the highest level from the known parent was used. Receipt of a General Educational Development (GED) certificate is included in the “high school diploma or equivalent” category.

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Subbaccalaureate refers to postsecondary programs and credentials that are below the bachelor's degree level; see award/credential.

Title IV postsecondary institutions meet the criteria for participating in the federal student financial aid program, as specified in Title IV of the Higher Education Act. A Title IV eligible postsecondary institution must be one of the following: (1) an institution of higher education (with public or private, non-profit control), (2) a proprietary institution (with private for-profit control), or (3) a postsecondary vocational institution (with public or private, non-profit control). In addition, it must meet the criteria in the Higher Education Act for acceptable legal authorization, acceptable accreditation and admission standards, eligible academic program(s), administrative capability, and financial responsibility.

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