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FAQs

ECU’s Institutional Research staff are often asked questions about who we are and what we do; what data resources we’ve made available to the campus community and the general public; and the definitions of/sources for data.  Below are some of these questions along with our responses.

"Broadly, 'institutional research' is viewed as a range of activities involving the collection, analysis and interpretation of information descriptive of an institution and its activities, including its students and staff, programs, management and operations. The findings of such 'institutional research' can assist institutional leaders (in both academic and administrative domains) through informing their planning and decision making."      

 –Zimmer, B; JIRA, Vol.4 No.1, May 1995, pg.74, "Achieving Quality Within Funding Constraints: The Potential Contribution of Institutional Research"

Specifically, IR at ECU has primary responsibility for preparing and submitting data and official reports to ensure the University's compliance with the UNC System as well as other state, regional and federal reporting mandates.  Additionally, IR coordinates the University's responses to a variety of external and internal requests for data and information such as those from publishers of college guides, other institutions, ECU faculty and staff, and so on.


When IR staff use the term “official data,” they are referring to data that have been submitted to the University of North Carolina system office.  These data have been thoroughly vetted and validated and, thus, are often the “cleanest” data available.

“Census” day is a date set by a university on which it takes a "snapshot" of all students' enrollment which becomes the "official enrollment" that is used for both state and federal reporting.  There is a census day for each term at ECU.  For both Fall and Spring semesters, census day is the tenth class day.  For summer terms, census day is usually the third day of classes.

Interactive reports draw upon data contained in ECU’s data warehouse.  Reports created by IR generally are based on the data we submit each term to the UNC system office.  Therefore, updates are not made to these reports until after the data have been approved by the system office. 

When numbers for the same variable differ, it is generally because the variables are not actually the same after all.  That is, any one variable can be defined in a number of ways and the number obtained for that variable will depend upon the definition used.  As an example, let’s say that someone requests data on the number of majors in an academic program.  “Number of majors” could include all declared majors, only declared majors who are juniors and seniors, or declared plus intended majors.  Each of these definitions would result in a different count.

For each report in the ECU Analytics Portal (the interface in which several IR interactive reports are housed, including our Fact Book) there is a glossary.  The glossary can be accessed by clicking on the word “Glossary” at the top of the report.

Although IR may facilitate requests related to a variety of university functions, our primary role is to fill data requests which can be obtained from data submitted each term to the UNC system office.  Generally, requests should go to the functional office responsible for a particular type of data.  For example, requests for student directory information should be submitted to the Registrar’s office.

A variety of reports and data bases are available online from which you can obtain ECU data as well as data on the UNC system and our peer institutions.  In addition, there are federal data bases from which information can be obtained about any school within the U.S. receiving federal funds or about the U.S. labor market.  These reports and data bases are linked from their names below:

  • Academic Program Profiles Desktop (ECU login required; access restricted to ECU faculty and staff):  Detailed reports on each academic degree program including applications/admissions/enrollment, student demographics (e.g., regional distribution, race/ethnicity, gender, age), grade point averages, grade distributions, student credit hours, retention and graduation rates, degrees awarded, faculty rosters and more.

  • ECU Online Fact Book:  The Online Fact Book provides the public with a ready-source of information about ECU and its operations. It contains a broad spectrum of historical trends and current information on students, faculty, and staff including applications/admissions/enrollment for new first-year students, new transfers, and new graduate students; enrollment in degree and certificate programs; student demographics; faculty salaries; faculty and staff demographics; and more.

  • ecuBIC:  ECU’s Business Intelligence Center contains current and detailed reports on a range of topics.

  • University Dashboard:  One of the more recent additions to the IR toolbox, the University Dashboard contains data and data visualizations on historic ECU enrollment; first-time, first-year and first-time graduate student enrollment; first-time graduate student enrollment; applications/admissions for first-time undergraduate and graduate students; retention and graduation rates; degrees awarded; military-connected undergraduate student demographics and success metrics; and new transfer student enrollment.  Many of these visualizations have options for refining views by student characteristics such as race/ethnicity, gender, NC county of residence, or age.

  • Common Data Set:  The ECU Common Data Set (CDS) is a set of commonly requested figures and statistics developed in compliance with the Common Data Set Initiative. The CDS is a collaborative effort among data providers in higher education and publishers as represented by the College Board, Peterson's, and U.S. News & World Report. The CDS includes data on enrollment, admissions, persistence, graduation rates, student expenses, financial aid awarded, and more.

  • University of North Carolina system Data Dashboard: The UNC Data Dashboard is an interactive, online database that gives students, parents, policymakers, and taxpayers expanded access to detailed system data on selected core measures. These measures include enrollment (trends within the system, who student are and where they come from); student success (four, five, and six year graduation rates); transfer student enrollment and performance; and degrees awarded by level, field of study, and student demographics.

  • IPEDS (Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System) Data Center:  IPEDS is the core postsecondary education data collection program for the National Center for Education Statistics (U.S. Department of Education). Data are collected from all primary providers of postsecondary education in the country in areas including enrollments, program completions, graduation rates, faculty, staff, finances, institutional prices, and student financial aid. These data are made available on the IPEDS website to students, researchers and others.

  • Delaware Study of Instructional Costs and Productivity:  A national study of instructional costs and productivity generally acknowledged as the “tool of choice” for comparative analysis of faculty teaching loads, direct instructional cost, and separately budgeted scholarly activity, by academic discipline. 

  • NCTower:  NC Tower provides graphs and tables of in-depth information on employment rates, wages, and ongoing higher education enrollment of graduates from the North Carolina Community College System and from University of North Carolina system schools.  

  • NCWorks Online:  Labor market analysis tool

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: U.S. employment projections

  • NCCommerce:  NC labor market information

Requesting data or information from IR is as simple as completing the Data Request Form located on IPAR’s webpage.  Your request will be reviewed, and if it is approved, it will be assigned to a research associate in IR.  You will get an email when your request is assigned, and you can contact the research associate directly.  In many cases, the research associate will contact you as soon as he or she receives your data request to clarify any details needed to complete it.  Note that the data request form can be completed by faculty and staff at ECU but not ECU students or the general public.  If you are not able to submit the data request form, please call or e-mail IR to describe a request.