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. Missouri State University-West Plains operates on a two-semester system. (IPEDS)


In the United States, colleges and Universities voluntarily seek accreditation from nongovernmental bodies. There are two types of educational accreditation: institutional and specialized. The Higher Learning Commission conducts institutional accreditation. The Commission has developed resources for individuals to better understand the role of accreditation in U.S. higher education.

Institutional accreditation is provided by regional and national associations of schools and colleges. There are six regional associations, each named after the region in which it operates (Middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, Western). The regional associations are independent of one another, but they cooperate extensively and acknowledge one another’s accreditation. Several national associations focus on particular kinds of institutions (for example, trade and technical colleges, and religious colleges and universities). An institutional accrediting agency evaluates an entire educational organization in terms of its mission and the agency’s standards or criteria. (HLC)

Admitted Student

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

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. See the Missouri State University-West Plains classification.

Census Date

Official enrollment figures are based on the 20th day of classes, the State of Missouri’s official enrollment census date.

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.

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.

Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE)

CCSSE provides information on student engagement, a key indicator of learning and, therefore, of the quality of community colleges. The survey, administered to community college students, asks questions that assess institutional practices and student behaviors that are correlated highly with student learning and student retention.


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.

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.

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.

First-time, first-year (freshman) student

A student who has no prior postsecondary experience (except as noted below) attending any institution for the first time at the undergraduate level. This includes students enrolled in academic or occupational programs. It also includes students enrolled in the fall term who attended college for the first time in the prior summer term, and students who entered with advanced standing (college credits earned before graduation from high school). (IPEDS)

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.

Graduation Rate

The percentage of students in a given cohort who graduate within a specified period of time. 100% and 150% of time is the typical standard for measuring a first-time, full-time cohort’s graduation rate.

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)

IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System)

IPEDS is the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. It is a system of interrelated surveys conducted annually by the U.S. Department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). IPEDS gathers information from every college, University and technical and vocational institution that participates in the federal student financial aid programs. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, requires that institutions that participate in federal student aid programs report data on enrollments, program completions, graduation rates, faculty and staff, finances, institutional prices and student financial aid. These data are made available to students and parents through the College Navigator college search website and to researchers and others through the IPEDS Data Center.

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.

Peer or Benchmarked Institution

An institution similar in role, scope, or mission to Missouri State University-West Plains that is used to compare data relating to admissions, enrollments, finances, etc.


See “Ethnicity.”

Retention Rate

Student retention is the re-enrollment of undergraduate students from one semester or year to another. Student retention cohorts may be defined in variety of ways (e.g., first-time full-time, first-time part-time).

ACT Composite Score

Your Composite score and each test score (English, Mathematics, Reading, Science) range from 1 (low) to 36 (high). The Composite Score is the average of your four test scores, rounded to the nearest whole number. Fractions less than one-half are rounded down; fractions one-half or more are rounded up. (ACT)

Student/Faculty Ratio

The student-to-faculty ratio at Missouri State University-West Plains is calculated using a formula provided by the Common Data Set (CDS) Initiative. This formula takes into account both full-time and part-time student counts, both full-time and part-time faculty counts and the percentage of faculty who have predominately instructional responsibilities.


Is the status granted to a ranked faculty member protecting him or her from arbitrary dismissal. Tenure gives the faculty member the contractual right to be reemployed for succeeding academic years until he or she resigns, retires, is dismissed for cause, is separated pursuant to a reduction in force, or becomes disabled or dies, but subject to the terms and conditions of employment that exist in this Faculty Handbook and in future editions of the Faculty Handbook as amended.