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IPEDS Degree Definitions


IPEDS Degree Definitions

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) provides standardized definitions to facilitate data for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). IPEDS is a single, comprehensive system designed to encompass all institutions and educational organizations whose primary purpose is to provide postsecondary education.

The following are IPEDS degree definitions:

Undergraduate Certificate (at least 1 but less than 2 academic years): Requires completion of an organized program of study at the postsecondary level (below the baccalaureate degree) in at least 1 but less than 2 full-time equivalent academic years , or designed for completion in at least 30 but less than 60 semester or trimester credit hours, or in at least 45 but less than 90 quarter credit hours, or in at least 900 but less than 1,800 contact or clock hours, by a student enrolled full time.     

Undergraduate Certificate (at least 2 but less than 4 academic years): Requires completion of an organized program of study at the postsecondary level (below the baccalaureate degree) in at least 2 but less than 4 full-time equivalent academic years , or designed for completion in at least 60 but less than 120 semester or trimester credit hours, or in at least 90 but less than 180 quarter credit hours, or in at least 1,800 but less than 3,600 contact or clock hours, by a student enrolled full time.

Associate Degree: An award that normally requires at least 2 but less than 4 years of full-time equivalent college work.

Bachelor’s Degree: An award (baccalaureate or equivalent degree, as determined by the Secretary, U.S. Department of Education) that normally requires at least 4 but not more than 5 years of full-time equivalent college-level work.

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate: An award that requires completion of an organized program of study equivalent to 18 semester credit hours beyond the bachelor's. It is designed for persons who have completed a baccalaureate degree, but does not meet the requirements of a master’s degree.

Master’s Degree: An award that requires the successful completion of a program of study of at least the full-time equivalent of 1 but not more than 2 academic years of work beyond the bachelor's degree.

Post-Master’s Certificate: An award that requires completion of an organized program of study equivalent to 24 semester credit hours beyond the master's degree, but does not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctor's level.

First-Professional Degree: An award that requires completion of a program that meets all of the following criteria: (1) completion of the academic requirements to begin practice in the profession; (2) at least 2 years of college work prior to entering the program; and (3) a total of at least 6 academic years of college work to complete the degree program, including prior required college work plus the length of the professional program itself. First-professional degrees may be awarded in the following 10 fields:
•     Chiropractic (D.C. or D.C.M.)
•     Dentistry (D.D.S. or D.M.D.)
•     Law (L.L.B., J.D.)
•     Medicine (M.D.)
•     Optometry (O.D.)
•     Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
•     Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
•     Podiatry (D.P.M., D.P., or Pod.D.)
•     Theology (M.Div., M.H.L., B.D., or Ordination)
•     Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.)

First-professional certificate (post-degree): An award that requires completion of an organized program of study designed for persons who have completed the first-professional degree. Examples could be refresher courses or additional units of study in a specialty or subspecialty.

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.

July, 2006