Common Data Set

The Common Data Set (CDS) initiative is a collaborative effort among data providers in the higher education community and publishers as represented by The College Board, Peterson's - a Thomson Learning Company and U.S. News & World Report.

The combined goal of this collaboration is to improve the quality and accuracy of information provided to all involved in a student's transition into higher education as well as to reduce the reporting burden on data providers.

This goal is attained by the development of clear, standard data items as well as definitions to determine a specific cohort relevant to each item. Often, data items and definitions used by the U.S. Department of Education in its higher education surveys serve as a guide in the development of the CDS. Common Data Set items undergo broad review by the CDS Advisory Board as well as by data providers representing secondary schools and two- and four-year colleges.

It is important to recognize that the CDS is actually a set of data item standards and definitions and not a survey instrument or a set of data represented in a database. As such, the CDS survey items have been strictly defined to collect common or comparable data from colleges and universities.

Current and Past Common Data Sets

Note: These files are in .pdf format, which requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to download. If you don't already have this software, please click here to download a free copy to your computer.


List of Contents within each Common Data Set

Section A. General Information
Section B. Enrollment and Persistence
Section C. First-time, First-year (Freshman) Admission
Section D. Transfer Admission
Section E. Academic Offerings and Policies
Section F. Student Life
Section G. Annual Expenses
Section H. Financial Aid
Section I. Instructional Faculty and Class Size
Section J. Degrees Conferred