Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Institutional Research?

    Peterson (1985) defines institutional research as "a critical intermediary function that links the educational, managerial, and information functions of higher education institutions." Saupe (1981) extends this definition by emphasizing the importance of internal data gathering and Analysis to the management of post-secondary educational institutions.

    Four basic activities describe institutional research:

    • collecting data about the performance of an institution,
    • collecting data about the environment of an institution,
    • analyzing and interpreting the collected data, and
    • transforming and interpreting data analyses into information that can be used to support the institutional planning, set institutional policies, and make academic and management decisions.
  • What are the functions of Institutional Research at Clemson University?

    The Office of Institutional Research (OIR) serves as a comprehensive source for information about Clemson University. The primary goal of OIR is to collect, comprehend, combine, and analyze data pertaining to a range of operational activities at Clemson, and to store these data in a historical database that can be referenced in the future. OIR is also concerned with the systematic evaluation of educational programs, educational support services, administrative processes, and financial resources in order to assist in identifying the strengths and weakness of the institution.

  • What kinds of data are available?
    • General and historical
    • Data about students (enrollment and credit hour data, demography, and degrees awarded)
    • Faculty and staff demography
    • Facilities and associated utilization
    • Financial information (tuition and fees, financial aid, revenues and expenditures, grants and contracts, and endowments)
  • Who may have access to these data?

    Summaries and analyses are available to students, faculty, or staff in academic or support units needing information for publicity, presentations, reports, grants and contracts, public relations, news releases, or other legitimate university functions.

  • Are comparative data available?

    Clemson University is a participating member of the Southern University Group (SUG), an association of 28 regional institutions established as a data exchange group. As a member of this group, the office of Institutional Research has access to summaries of data on enrollment, tuition and fees, teaching loads, faculty and administrative salaries, graduate stipends, and expenditures and revenues. Information is also available from a number of additional universities, from regional or national reports, and from the U.S. Department of Education.

    Other sources for data can be found at:

  • Data for freshmen in different tables are inconsistent. Why are the number of freshmen reported in applications as accepted and enrolled different from the freshmen reported in enrollment tables?

    As a part of its mission, Institutional Research tracks different statistics for state and federal agencies, including the State Commission of Higher Education (CHE) and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).  Two important statistics used by these agencies are the retention rate of freshmen to sophomore and the graduation rate of freshmen over a four year period.  To provide these statistics, we monitor all of the first-time freshmen entering Clemson in one year as a cohort, or specially defined group.  For example, the 2000 cohort includes all first-time freshmen who entered Clemson in fall 2000.  It does not include freshmen who were still here from the fall 1999 and had not become sophomores, and it does not include transfer students, who may be at Clemson for the first time but come in with additional credits from other postsecondary institutions.  When asking us about freshmen at Clemson, always specify whether you mean “first-time freshmen”, which is a specific group of people, or students who have the academic status of freshman, which could include transfer students and students entering at different times.

  • Why is official data available so late in the semester?

    Enrollment at any institution of higher learning is a moving target.  Students enroll  through the drop-add process, may receive special waivers to enroll late, and some drop out over the course of the semester.  In addition, some courses start later than others, and study abroad programs sometimes have inconsistent course periods.  The official data reported to the SC Commission of Higher Education is based on the “high-water mark” of enrollment, which is usually just after drop add, but then other adjustments are made to account for study abroad students and other issues.  Official due dates for the CHE submission are October 31 for the fall and March 31 for the spring, and the final enrollment numbers are usually available within a week or two of those dates.  Any enrollment numbers released earlier are preliminary, because there is no guarantee they will match the “official CHE” numbers that are sent to the state.

  • Why doesn't the Fact Book have any data for most spring semesters?

    Most institutions of higher learning report data on an academic year cycle, from fall to fall.  Including spring data can make generalizations more difficult, and data tables more complicated.  If you need official spring enrollment data for a grant or other reason, please complete a data request form. Official spring data is usually available in the middle of April.

A reminder . . .

In order to maintain a complete and comprehensive database, a copy of all reports submitted by the University to the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE), accrediting agencies, or to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commision on Colleges (SACSCOC), should be sent to the Office of Institutional Research.