Institutional Boundary (2.2)

Credit Language

PRE-3: Institutional Boundary – version 2.2

Frequently Asked Questions

How do we determine our institution type?

The following institution types are recognized in STARS: Associate/Short-cycle, Baccalaureate, Doctoral/Research, Master’s, and Other (reserved for non-higher education institutions).

You should report the institution type that is most appropriate given your context and with consideration for the detailed criteria outlined in Standards and Terms. For consistency, U.S. colleges and universities should select their current Basic Carnegie Classification (search here by institution name), with the exception of Special Focus Institutions and Tribal Colleges, who should select the institution type that best reflects the level of programs offered and the number and type of degrees awarded.

Definitions for each institution type classification are as follows:

  • Associate Colleges – Institutions where all degrees are at the associate’s level, or where baccalaureate degrees account for less than 10% of all degrees
  • Baccalaureate institutions – Colleges and universities where baccalaureate degrees represent at least 10% of all undergraduate degrees and where fewer than 50 master’s degrees or 20 doctoral degrees are awarded annually
  • Master’s institutions – Colleges and universities that award at least 50 master’s degrees and fewer than 20 doctoral degrees annually
  • Doctoral Institutions – Institutions that awarded at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees annually, including doctoral degrees that qualify recipients for entry into professional practice

What are acceptable reasons for excluding parts of our campus in Institutional Boundary?

Each institution is expected to include its entire main campus when collecting data, however AASHE recognizes that this may not always be feasible. You can choose to exclude a feature, school, or building for any reason, as long as the selected boundary is the same for all credits in the submission. The rationale for any exclusions must be provided in the appropriate reporting field.

Can we exclude parts of our campus from certain credits and not others?

The general expectation is that the institutional boundary will be the same for the entire STARS Report. In other words, you cannot include a feature, building, or satellite campus in certain credits for which they improve your score and exclude them from other credits. Therefore, care should be taken in selecting the institutional boundary so that consistent reporting is possible across all credits.

During the reporting process, however, if you find it impossible to include a building or feature in a credit due to data limitations, you may exclude it as long as you document the rationale for doing so in the public Notes field.

In addition, if circumstances warrant it, you may establish different boundaries for different sections of STARS as long as:

  • You provide a detailed explanation of the different boundaries used and when they apply, along with a justification for why different boundaries were necessary under the descriptive fields of the Institutional Boundary credit.
  • You use consistent boundaries within any given subcategory of STARS to the extent possible. For example, if you count satellite students in one Curriculum credit, you should do so in all Curriculum credits.

If, for some reason, it isn’t possible to use the same boundary across an entire subcategory of STARS, at a minimum the boundaries within each individual credit must be internally consistent (e.g., if you don’t count energy use at satellite facilities, you may not count satellite campus users in your weighted campus user numbers for that credit).

Resources, Templates & Tools

Example Responses

  • Cornell University – Institution type selection conforms with U.S. IPEDS designation. Response for “The rationale for excluding any features that are present from the institutional boundary” includes a clear explanation for why certain spaces were excluded.
  • George Washington University – The field, “The rationale for excluding any features” explains what facilities are included or excluded, and explains the institution’s guiding principles for report inclusion.
  • Université Téluq – The Notes field includes a good explanation about qualification as an Associate institution. Good reporting example for institutions outside of the U.S.

Common Issues Identified During Review

  • Institution type for U.S. institutions should match Carnegie Data (with the exception of Tribal and Special Focus Institutions, which should fall under one of the other options). The “Other” option should only be applied to organizations that are not higher education institutions.
  • Valid explanation required under “The rationale for excluding any features that are present from the institutional boundary.”

Did you find this article helpful?