This article is part of series of blog posts that details the strengths and weaknesses of prominent labor market and education data sources. Find the whole series here.
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) program was developed by the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. It collects data from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in federal student financial aid programs and includes information on enrollments, program completions, graduation rates, faculty and staff, finances, institutional prices, and student financial aid.
IPEDS organizes this data into a taxonomy called the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) system. The CIP taxonomy is organized on three levels:
- The two-digit series—general groupings of related programs (e.g., health professions and related programs (51))
- The four-digit series—intermediate groupings of programs that have comparable content and objectives (e.g., registered nursing, nursing administration, nursing research, and clinical nursing (51.38))
- The six-digit series—specific instructional programs (e.g., registered nursing/registered nurse (51.3801))
IPEDS data forms the institutional sampling frame for other NCES postsecondary surveys, such as the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study and the National Survey of Postsecondary Faculty.
- Because the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, requires that institutions that participate in federal student aid programs report data to IPEDS, the data is a very comprehensive source.
- IPEDS data has several uses, including providing the market research information necessary for universities and colleges to evaluate new and existing programs.
- IPEDS allows you to view information for an individual institution, compare institutions side-by-side, or view trends for certain variables.
- Institutions self-report their information to IPEDS, so the possibility of error exists, particularly in regard to the reported programs of study.
- There is about a year lag between when IPEDS collects its data and when it is released.
- IPEDS is not comprehensive of all education and training programs (e.g., MakerSquare and other non-traditional education and training programs are not included in this data).
- Online and residential programs are coded the same, so it is difficult to narrow down your analysis to a specific program type.
- The CIP taxonomy is not intuitively organized; its classifications do not necessarily match up with the exact names of majors, and similar programs may not be found within the same six-, four-, or even two-digit series.
How EMSI Incorporates IPEDS
EMSI uses IPEDS data to provide information about postsecondary institutions, especially in regard to college completions by program type and demographic (race and gender). Completions include degrees (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral), certificates, and any other formal award.
In addition, EMSI uses the CIP system to create program-to-occupation crosswalks, which map programs of study to occupations and reveal one measure of education supply-and-demand.
EMSI collects data from more than 90 public sources, harmonizes it, and delivers it so you can use it effectively. To learn more about EMSI data, visit our data page or contact us. Follow EMSI on Twitter (@DesktopEcon) or check us out on LinkedIn and Facebook.