Glossary of Terms

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Academic Year (AY)

The period of time generally extending from August/September to May/June, usually equated to two semesters or trimesters, three quarters, or the period covered by a 4-1-4 calendar system; does not include summer. Case Western Reserve operates on a two-semester system. (IPEDS)

Acceptance Rate

The percentage of applicants to a program or institution who are offered admission; also called the admit rate.


The process by which an institution’s academic programs are reviewed by external agencies that evaluate the institution’s ability to deliver the education it promises. Overall (or “regional”) accreditation for Case Western Reserve University comes from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The professional schools and various other programs are accredited by their separate professional groups. Click here for a list of accredited programs at Case.

Admitted Student

Applicant who is offered admission to a degree-granting program at an institution. (Common Data Set)

Auxiliary Enterprises

Operations that exist to furnish a service to students, faculty, or staff, and that charge a fee that is directly related to the cost of the service. Examples are residence halls, food services, student health services, intercollegiate athletics, college unions, and college bookstores. (IPEDS)

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Carnegie Classification

An institutional classification structure developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and used to identify groups of roughly comparable institutions. Classifications are based on a number of characteristics, including highest degree awarded and level of research activity. CWRU’s classification is Research Universities (very high research activity).

Census Date

For institutions operating under a traditional academic year calendar, enrollment is reported as of the institution’s official fall reporting date or October 15. At Case Western Reserve, the census date for fall enrollment is the end of the third week of classes. For faculty and staff reporting, the census date is November 1. (IPEDS)

Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP)

A taxonomic coding scheme for postsecondary instructional programs, intended to standardize the organization, collection, and reporting of data about enrollment, degrees awarded, and other aspects of educational programs. The CIP is the accepted federal government statistical standard on instructional program classifications and is used in a variety of education information surveys and databases. (IPEDS)


A group of people who share a common characteristic or experience within a defined time period. In institutional research, cohorts usually consist of full-time, first-year students who begin college in a given fall.

College Senior Survey (CSS)

A national survey used to collect information on students’ educational and social experiences during college and their post-college plans. It can be used longitudinally with the CIRP Freshman Survey to assess how students have changed since entering college. CWRU administers the College Senior Survey every three years.

Common Data Set (CDS)

A collaborative effort between publishers and the higher education community to standardize higher education-related definitions and data items. The CDS is a set of standards and definitions rather than a survey instrument or set of data represented in a database. For more information, visit the CDS website.

Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey

A national survey used to collect demographic and attitudinal information about incoming students. It measures trends in higher education and serves as a baseline for longitudinal follow-up. CWRU administers the CIRP Freshman Survey every three years.

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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.” At CWRU, the MD, DMD, JD, and DNP degrees are considered professional practice doctorates. (IPEDS)

Doctor’s degree - research/scholarship

A PhD 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. At CWRU, the PhD, Doctor of Musical Arts, and Doctor of Management are considered research doctorates. (IPEDS)


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(See Race/Ethnicity)

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As outlined in the Faculty Handbook, there are three different categories of appointments to the University Faculty at Case Western Reserve: (1) tenured or tenure-track appointments; (2) non-tenure track appointments; and (3) special appointments. Appointments in categories (1) and (2) are full-time and must be approved by the Board of Trustees. These faculty are appointed at the rank of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, senior instructor, or instructor.

Appointments in category (3), special faculty, may be either full- or part-time. These faculty are not appointed by the Board of Trustees, and their titles include a modifier to traditional ranks that reflects the nature of the appointment (e.g., visiting assistant professor, adjunct professor, clinical instructor). Lecturers are also considered special faculty.

Full-time faculty in categories (1) and (2) above may be paid through Case Western Reserve, or may be paid through an affiliated hospital. The source of their pay does not determine their faculty status. Faculty not paid through CWRU are not considered employees, however, for purposes of certain reporting on faculty and staff data (most notably the federal reporting that the university must complete each year).

Faculty Ranks

Professor – The most senior faculty rank, usually accompanied by the award of tenure. Some appointments to the rank of professor are non-tenure-track (i.e., do not lead to consideration for tenure).
Associate Professor – Mid-level rank usually obtained after receiving tenure. Some appointments at this rank are non-tenure-track.
Assistant Professor – Entry-level rank, usually requiring a doctorate or other terminal degree. Appointments at this rank may be in the tenure track or not.
Instructor/Senior Instructor – A junior-level faculty appointment that is not in the tenure track.

First Professional Degree

A degree that is required for professional licensure or entrance to a specific profession. At Case, students pursuing the following degrees are considered first professionals: Dentistry (D.M.D.); Medicine (M.D.); and Law (J.D.). (IPEDS) (See "Doctor’s degree - professional practice")

First-time, first-year (freshman) student

A student attending any institution for the first time at the undergraduate level. Includes students enrolled in the fall term who attended college for the first time in the prior summer term. Also includes students who entered with advanced standing (college credits earned before graduation from high school).

Fiscal Year (FY)

A 12-month period used for calculating annual financial reports. Case's fiscal year runs from July 1 through the following June 30.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Employee

A full-time equivalent measure is a way of equating the number of full- and part-time individuals, whether employees or students. A full-time employee counts as 1 FTE; two part-time employees who each work half-time are also equal to1 FTE. (IPEDS)

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Student

A measurement equal to one student enrolled full-time for one academic year. Total FTE enrollment includes full-time plus the calculated equivalent of the part-time enrollment. The full-time equivalent of the part-time students can be estimated using different factors, depending on the type of institution and level of student. A common definition of FTE enrollment includes all full-time students plus one-third of the total number of part-time students, but FTE calculations can also be based on credit hours taken. (IPEDS)

Full-Time Student

Generally, an undergraduate student enrolled for 12 or more credits in a semester during the academic year, or a graduate student enrolled for nine or more semester credits. However, Case Western Reserve also considers any student to be full-time if he or she is enrolled in a full-time equivalent course, even if the student's credit-hour registration is at less than a full-time level. Such courses include dissertation research, cooperative education, certain practica and internships, and study abroad.

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Graduate and Professional Enrollment

At Case, this is a total of all post-baccalaureate students taking courses through the School of Graduate Studies, School of Dental Medicine, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, School of Law, Weatherhead School of Management, School of Medicine, and Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

Graduation Rate

The percentage of students in a given cohort who graduate within a specified period of time. Six years is the typical standard for measuring a first-time, full-time cohort’s graduation rate.

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Headcount (unduplicated)

The sum of students enrolled for credit with each student counted only once during the reporting period, regardless of when the student enrolled. (IPEDS)

High School Class Rank

The relative numerical position of a student in his or her high school graduating class, calculated by the high school on the basis of grade-point average, whether weighted or unweighted. (Common Data Set)

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IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System)

The core postsecondary education data collection program for the U.S. Department of Education. IPEDS is a single, comprehensive system designed to encompass all postsecondary institutions and educational organizations. The IPEDS system is built around a series of interrelated surveys to collect institution-level data in such areas as enrollments, program completions, faculty, staff, and finances.

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National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)

The National Survey of Student Engagement focuses on the quality of undergraduate learning and assesses the extent to which students engage in educational practices that have shown to be associated with high levels of learning and development. The survey is administered to first-year students and seniors. CWRU administers NSSE every three years.

Nonresident alien

A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who is in this country on a visa or temporary basis and does not have the right to remain indefinitely.

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Occupational Categories (IPEDS)

The U.S. Department of Education collects data on staff employees using these occupational categories:

Executive/administrative/managerial: Positions directly related to management policies or general business operations of the institution that customarily and regularly require the incumbent to exercise discretion and independent judgment.

Other professionals (support/service): Positions involving academic support, student service, and institutional support, and requiring either a baccalaureate degree or higher or experience of such kind and amount as to provide a comparable background.

Technical and paraprofessional: Positions requiring specialized knowledge or skills which may be acquired through experience, apprenticeship, on-the-job training, or academic work in occupationally specific programs that result in a two-year degree or other certificate or diploma.

Clerical and secretarial: Clerical activities or positions specifically of a secretarial nature, including personnel responsible for internal and external communications, recording and retrieval of data (other than computer programmers), and/or information and other paperwork required in an office.

Skilled crafts: Positions typically require special manual skills and a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the processes involved in the work, acquired through on-the-job-training and experience or through apprenticeship or other formal training programs.

Service/maintenance: Positions require limited degrees of previously acquired skills and knowledge and in which workers perform duties that result in or contribute to the comfort, convenience and hygiene of personnel and the student body or that contribute to the upkeep of the institutional property.



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Peer Institution

An institution similar in role, scope, or mission to Case Western Reserve University that is used to compare data relating to admissions, enrollments, finances, etc.

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Categories developed by the federal government that are used to describe groups to which individuals belong, identify with, or belong in the eyes of the community. The categories do not denote scientific definitions of anthropological origins. The designations are used to categorize U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and other eligible non-citizens. The Department of Education has provided these definitions:

    Hispanic or Latino: A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

    American Indian or Alaska Native: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community attachment.

    Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

    Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.

    Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

    White: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.


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Resident alien or other eligible non-citizen

A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who has been admitted as a legal immigrant for the purpose of obtaining permanent resident alien status.

Retention Rate

Student retention is the re-enrollment of (typically) undergraduate students from college matriculation through the completion of a college degree. Student retention cohorts may be defined in various ways, e.g., first-time full-time, first-time part-time, etc.; likewise, the retention rate may be calculated in different ways, for example, from the freshman to sophomore year or from the first fall enrollment through the expected graduation date.

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SAT Composite Score

The SAT composite score is the sum of the test-taker’s scores on the three sections of the SAT Reasoning Test: the writing section, the critical reading (formerly verbal) section, and the mathematics section. The maximum score is 2400.

Student/Faculty Ratio

The ratio of full-time equivalent students to full-time equivalent instructional faculty. Ratio calculations typically exclude both faculty and students in stand-alone graduate or professional programs such as medicine, law, or dentistry, in which faculty teach virtually only graduate level students. In addition, undergraduate or graduate student teaching assistants are typically not counted as faculty when calculating an undergraduate student/faculty ratio. (Common Data Set)

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A commitment that assures academic freedom by protecting designated faculty members from dismissal or disciplinary action because their views may be unpopular or contrary to the views of others. Tenure may be awarded to a faculty member through a review process initiated after a specific number of years of service. The award of tenure gives the faculty member the “contingent right” to continued employment, and may be terminated only for just cause after a careful process. Some faculty positions are not designated as being in the “tenure track” (the path leading to consideration for tenure).

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Yield Rate

The percentage of admitted students who enroll.

Your First College Year Survey (YFCYS)

A national survey designed to provide comprehensive information on the academic and personal development of first-year college students. YFCY was designed as a follow-up survey to the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey and allows for longitudinal research on the first year of college. CWRU administers the YFCY survey every three years.