Step 9: Report Groupings (Standard and Custom)

Standard Groupings Available (for Standard or Supplemental Benchmark Reports)

MSL reports are tailored to be of best use to the participating schools. As standard, MSL offers approximately 30 standard benchmarking columns from which schools may select in ordering their report. The groupings use IPEDS (The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) or other publicly available institutional data about each institution to categorize the institutions that previously participated in the MSL.  

Below is a guide to the standard columns offered – however, please note that in any given MSL data collection year, the specific columns may vary depending on the number of schools participating in each category. We cannot offer a column that consists of fewer than 3 schools. Generally, the specific columns offered are finalized approximately one month before the start of data collection. When these are finalized, the MSL will communicate them to each school and will allow any necessary adjustments to selections that may have been impacted by the final column availability.

Please become familiar with the report ordering deadlines - missing the deadlines may result in not receiving your preferences for the report contents.

The following columns (displayed in bold italics below) may be selected as columns in any Standard or Supplemental Benchmark Report. These comparisons are not available in the Supplemental Outcomes Report.

  • MSL2015 and MSL2018 Data {IF APPLICABLE]
    If your institution participated in the MSL in 2015 or 2018, you have the option to include a column comparing your responses for these years. The comparison will only occur for the items that were included during these years and did not change. If your school participated in the MSL more than four years ago and the questionnaire did not change significantly, there may be an option to add a comparison column for that year. (See your School Coordinator for custom pricing.)

  • Coalition Data {IF APPLICABLE}
    If your institution is participating in a coalition, you may choose to include a coalition comparison column. 

  • Carnegie
    The Carnegie framework developed by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education to classify schools and colleges within the United States. Data is collected from IPEDS.

    • Carnegie: Baccalaureate- institutions where baccalaureate or higher degrees represent at least 50 percent of all degrees but where fewer than 50 master's degrees or 20 doctoral degrees were awarded during the update year. IPEDS provides two categories of Baccalaureate Colleges (Arts & Sciences Focus and Diverse Fields), however, for MSL reporting, we have collapsed them into one category.

    • Carnegie: Doctoral Universities: Moderate Research Activity – Institutions awarding at least 20 research/scholarship doctorates, who did not fall into “high” or “highest” on the research activity index or were not included in the NSF data collections.

    • Carnegie: Doctoral Universities: Higher Research Activity – Institutions awarding at least 20 research/scholarship doctorates, while also rating “high” on the research activity index.

    • Carnegie: Doctoral Universities: Highest Research Activity – Institutions awarding at least 20 research/scholarship doctorates, while also rating “very high” on the research activity index.

    • Carnegie: Master's Colleges & Universities: Larger Programs – Institutions awarding at least 200 degrees are included in this group.

    • Carnegie: Master's Colleges & Universities: Small and Medium Programs – Includes institutions that awarded at least 50 master's degrees and fewer than 20 doctoral degrees. IPEDS classifies these institutions into three groups, based on program size, determined by the number of degrees awarded. For MSL reporting, we have grouped small programs (50-99 degrees) and medium programs (100-199 degrees) together.

  • Institutional Size
    Total student enrollment as provided by IPEDS.

    • Institutional Size: 1,000-4,999

    • Institutional Size: 5,000-9,999

    • Institutional Size: 10,000-19,999

    • Institutional Size: 20,000 and above

  • Control
    Includes a grouping of the intuitional “control” or institution type. Data is provided by IPEDS.

    • Control: Private – Private institutions that may, or may not, have a religious affiliation. For MSL reporting purposes, we have grouped the private not-for-profit schools together, regardless of religious affiliation.

    • Control: Public – Public institution operated with public funds by school officials who were elected or appointed.

  • Barron's Selectivity
    Institutions are classified according to selectivity level, according to a criteria developed and provided by the Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges.

    • Barron's Selectivity: Less Competitive – Colleges in this category typically accept 85% of their applicants. Incoming freshman class typically has median test scores of <500 SAT/ <21 ACT, and students rank in the top 65% of their graduating class.

    • Barron's Selectivity: Competitive – Colleges in this category typically accept 75-85% of their applicants. Incoming freshman class typically has median test scores of 500-572 SAT/ 21-24 ACT, and students rank in the top 50-65% of their graduating class. For MSL reporting purposes, the “Competitive” category has been combined with the “Competitive+” category.

    • Barron's Selectivity: Very Competitive – Colleges in this category typically accept 50-75% of their applicants. Incoming freshman class typically has median test scores of 573-610 SAT/ 24-26 ACT, and students rank in the top 35-50% of their graduating class. For MSL reporting purposes, the “Very Competitive” category has been combined with the “Very Competitive+” category.

    • Barron's Selectivity: Highly Competitive – Colleges in this category typically accept 35-50% of their applicants. Incoming freshman class typically has median test scores of 620-645 SAT/ 27-28 ACT, and students rank in the top 20-35% of their graduating class. For MSL reporting purposes, the “Highly Competitive” category has been combined with the “Highly Competitive+” category.

    • Barron's Selectivity: Most Competitive – Colleges in this category typically accept <35% of their applicants. Incoming freshman class typically has median test scores of 655-800 SAT/ >29 ACT, and students rank in the top 10-20% of their graduating class.

  • Setting
    Determined by the physical address of the school to identify the geographic status and urban-centric locale codes of the institution.

    • Setting: Large City – Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population of 250,000 or more.

    • Setting: Midsize City – Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population less than 250,000 and greater than or equal to 100,000.

    • Setting: Small City – Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population less than 100,000.

    • Setting: Suburb – Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area. IPEDS data splits the Suburb setting into three groups (small, midsize, and large), but for MSL reporting we have grouped them into a single Suburb group.

    • Setting: Town/Rural – Territory inside, or less than 5 miles from, an urban cluster. For MSL reporting, we have grouped together the “Town” and “Rural” categories.

  • Affiliation
    Religious affiliation under which the school or institution operates, provided by IPEDS data.

    • Affiliation: Religious

    • Affiliation: Secular

Where an institution does not have a classification available, or they are an International school, they will fall into a category that we call Unclassified / International. These categories are not selectable as a comparison group.

If you would like to browse a complete list of institutions participating in the MSL, along with their categories described above, click the "Download a Draft Master School Typology" button. Please note that availability of this document can change based on final enrollment numbers.

Also, we understand that some institutions do not agree with their IPEDS classification - and that is perfectly understandable. We do not represent that these are the best ways to categorize institutions - and we do not suggest that they are precisely accurate in that they reflect a unique type of institution in some way. They are, however, a widely used typology that allows for a standardization across institutions. And this is why we offer the option for schools to select their own custom comparison groups. While we cannot change how schools are categorized, we do allow schools to hand select their comparisons if they have a better way to group institutions for their own needs.

Custom Groupings (for Standard or Supplemental Benchmark Reports)

Added report groupings available as part of the Standard or Supplemental Benchmark Report includes:

  • Custom Peer Group ($150) - Custom peer groups allow a school to identify 3+ schools who they see as a "peer group" to be included in Modules 2 and 3. For a complete list of participating schools, click the "Download a Draft Master School Typology" button above. If established by the defined deadlines they will be available in the Standard Report. Custom peer groups defined after the deadlines will not be available as part of the Standard Report, but could be used in Supplemental Comparison Reports, and may require additional time to deliver. Random Sample data will be used from schools that are selected. Anything other than Random Sample data will require a Custom Comparison Group.

  • Comparison Sample Group ($150/group) - Comparison Sample Group allows a school to use both random and/or comparison sample variables provided with the sample file to define. This does NOT include any survey data collected or data from other institutions - survey or other institution data comparisons requires a Custom Comparison Group (see below).

Custom Groupings (for Supplemental Benchmark Reports ONLY)

Added report grouping available as part of Supplemental Benchmark Reports ONLY include:

  • Custom Comparison Groups ($150/group) - Custom Comparison Groups work much like Custom Peer Groups and are only used in Module 2 and Module 3 benchmarking reports. However, Custom Benchmark Groups are only presented in Supplemental Benchmark Reports - they are not available in the Main Report. These custom groups allow for the definition of a benchmark comparison that may be generated using a variety of available data. Data sources may include data provided with the sample file, data collected during the survey, and it may include data from other institutions (so long as a minimum of 3 institutions are involved and the MSL team reviews the group to ensure school and participant confidentiality). An example of a custom benchmark group would be where a school would like to compare a specific subset of their student population against a specific subset of similar students at other schools. For example, they may want to compare their engineering students against engineering students at a custom group of 5 other institutions. NOTE: The MSL team reserves the right to quote a custom price for custom benchmark groups that go beyond the intended design of the custom benchmark group service. The $150/group price assumes a group that uses a single variable to define the group. If more complex groupings are required, see your School Coordinator for custom pricing.

Scott D. Crawford