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The online version of the IPEDS Glossary provides definitions for almost 500 postsecondary-related terms used in the collection and dissemination of IPEDS data.

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Term Definition Related terms
Data Analysis System (DAS) The Data Analysis System (DAS) is a software application that allows a user to produce tables from selected NCES data sets. While each collection year uses a separate DAS, all have a consistent interface and command structure. User can select from several output formats, either direct printing or comma-separated file which can be input for other software.
Data collection system The Web environment that is used to collect the IPEDS data.
Data dictionary A file or a list that contains all known information about variables such as format, data type, field width, and source.
Data revision system The Web environment where an institution's prior year data may be revised by keyholders or data managers.
Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number The Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number is a 9-digit number assigned by the Dun & Bradstreet Information Corporation to any entity providing products, goods, or services.
Data year The year to which data pertain in a particular IPEDS component. For example, for collection year 2003-04, tuition is for data year 2003-04, whereas completions are for data year 2002-03.
Database Collection of electronically stored data or unit records (facts, bibliographic data, and texts) with a common user interface and software for the retrieval and manipulation of the data. The data or records are usually collected with a particular intent and relate to a defined topic. Each database is counted individually even if access to several databases is supported through the same vendor interface.
Dataset Cutting Tool (DCT) An early IPEDS data access tool, no longer available. All the functions in the Dataset Cutting Tool have been incorporated into the IPEDS Data Center.
Day care service A student service designed to provide appropriate care and protection of infants, preschool, and school-age children so their parents can participate in postsecondary education programs .
Deductions from physical plant assets Amounts that represent a decline in the value of physical plant assets resulting from selling, razing, fire, and other hazards, or other disposition of the assets.
Degree An award conferred by a college, university, or other postsecondary education institution as official recognition for the successful completion of a program of studies.
Degree of urbanization (urban-centric locale) A code representing the urbanicity (city/suburb/rural) by population size of the institution's location. This urban-centric locale code was assigned through a methodology developed by the U.S. Census Bureau's Population Division in 2005. The urban-centric locale codes apply current geographic concepts to the original NCES Locale codes used on IPEDS files through 2004.
The following are the codes used:
11 City: Large
12 City: Midsize
13 City: Small
21 Suburb: Large
22 Suburb: Midsize
23 Suburb: Small
31 Town: Fringe
32 Town: Distant
33 Town: Remote
41 Rural: Fringe
42 Rural: Distant
43 Rural: Remote
Degree/certificate-seeking students Students enrolled in courses for credit who are seeking a degree, certificate, or other formal award. This includes students who:
   - received any type of federal financial aid, regardless of what courses they took at any time;
   - received any state or locally based financial aid with an eligibility requirement that the student be enrolled in a degree, certificate, or transfer-seeking program; or
   - obtained a student visa to study at a U.S. postsecondary institution

High school students also enrolled in postsecondary courses for credit are not considered degree/certificate-seeking.
Depreciation The allocation or distribution of the cost of capital assets, less any salvage value, to expenses over the estimated useful life of the asset in a systematic and rational manner. Depreciation for the year is the amount of the allocation or distribution for the year involved.
Differs by program (calendar system) A calendar system classification that is used by institutions that have occupational/vocational programs of varying lengths. These schools may enroll students at specific times depending on the program desired. For example, a school might offer a 2-month program in January, March, May, September, and November; and a 3-month program in January, April, and October.
Diploma A formal document certifying the successful completion of a prescribed program of studies.
Disability services Programs designed to provide reasonable academic accommodations and support services to empower students who have disabilities to competitively pursue postsecondary education. May also include assistance to campus departments in providing access to services and programs in the most integrated setting possible.
Discounts and allowances That part of a scholarship or fellowship that is used to pay institutional charges such as tuition and fees or room and board charges.
Discovery system A discovery system product consists of an interface directed toward the users of a library to find materials in its collections and subsequently to gain access to items of interest through the appropriate mechanisms. Discovery systems tend to be independent from the specific applications that libraries implement to manage resources, such as integrated library systems, library services platforms, repository platforms, or electronic resource management systems. In most cases they provide access to multiple types of materials, independently of the management platform involved. Discovery systems provide an interface with search and retrieval capabilities, often with features such as relevancy-based ordering of search results, facets presented that can be selected to narrow results according to specific categories, contributors, or date ranges, and tools to identify related materials or to refine search queries. Examples of discovery systems can be found at
Distance education

Education that uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously.

Technologies used for instruction may include the following: Internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcasts, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite or wireless communication devices; audio conferencing; and video cassette, DVDs, and CD-ROMs, if the cassette, DVDs, and CD-ROMs are used in a course in conjunction with the technologies listed above.

Distance education course A course in which the instructional content is delivered exclusively via distance education.  Requirements for coming to campus for orientation, testing, or academic support services do not exclude a course from being classified as distance education.
Distance education program A program for which all the required coursework for program completion is able to be completed via distance education courses.
Dividend earnings Distribution of earnings to shareholders that may be in the form of cash, stock, or property.
Doctor's degree The highest award a student can earn for graduate study. The doctor's degree classification includes such degrees as Doctor of Education, Doctor of Juridical Science, Doctor of Public Health, and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in any field such as agronomy, food technology, education, engineering, public administration, ophthalmology, or radiology.
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.
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 (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-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.
Doctoral/Research Universities - Extensive (Carnegie) An institutional classification developed by the Andrew W. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Doctoral/Research Universities - Extensive typically offer a wide range of baccalaureate programs , and they are committed to graduate education through the doctorate. During the period studied, they awarded 50 or more doctoral degrees per year across at least 15 disciplines. Carnegie Classification
Doctoral/Research Universities - Intensive (Carnegie) An institutional classification developed by the Andrew W. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Doctoral/Research Universities - Intensive typically offer a wide range of baccalaureate programs , and they are committed to graduate education through the doctorate. During the period studied, they awarded at least ten doctoral degrees per year across three or more disciplines, or at least 20 doctoral degrees per year overall. Carnegie Classification
Dual credit A program through which high school students are enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses, taught at their high school, that fulfill high school graduation requirements and may earn the student college credits .
Dual enrollment A program through which high school students may enroll in college courses while still enrolled in high school. Students are not required to apply for admission to the college in order to participate.


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