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Definitions and Calculations for The Cost Study

Part II: Academic Department/Discipline

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Disciplines selected for benchmarking are found in the “Classification of Instructional Programs” taxonomy, which is derived directly from the National Center for Educations Statistics 2020 CIP Code System

See for detailed listing of programs

Benchmarking for the NSICP is done at the four digit CIP Code level – looking at discrete disciplines within a broad curricular field.

If there is difficulty dis-aggregating categories within a specific disciplinary area, there is a general CIP Code level that should be used.

NOTE: Within the CIP Code family, 51.XX, we ask that you exclude Medicine and Medical Sciences, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Optometry and Ophthalmic Medicine, and Podiatry. We will accept Nursing, Pharmacy, and all allied health disciplines.


Do not submit data for non-academic programs like Military Science and units that do not have permanent faculty residing in them as in most interdisciplinary programs.

Degree Offerings

Indicate all of the degrees (i.e. bachelors, masters, doctorate or professional) offered in a discipline at your institution. Consistent with the historical definition used for The Cost Study, only JD and PharmD degrees should be included in the “Professional” degree category.
Provide the average number of degrees awarded in a discipline for each of the past three academic years as indicated as first major on the respective IPEDS Completions Reports

The Delaware study will benchmark, among other filters, data based upon highest degree awarded and undergraduate/graduate program mix based on the number of degrees granted.

With all new programs that have not yet granted degrees, please provide an estimate of degrees that will be granted to your first cohort. This will give us the data on the level of degrees being granted.

All Majors

In the new field of the template labeled “All Majors” please provide the average number of degrees awarded in the discipline regardless of whether it was the first or subsequent major. The average values in this field will either be equal to or be greater than the values entered where the field is capturing the average number of first majors.

Instructional Workload/Regular Faculty

NOTE: The following discussion of faculty should be read within the context of your institution’s Fall 2019 semester data. Be sure each CIP reported contains the faculty and their associated workload budgeted within the given department. That is, please use an “origin of instructor” method of reporting.

Regular faculty are defined as those individuals who are hired for the purpose of doing teaching, and who may also do research and/or service. They are characterized by a recurring contractual relationship in which the individual and the institution both assume a continuing appointment.

Column A – Take the TOTAL FTE for filled faculty positions as they appear in the Fall personnel file at your institution, and report this in the “Total FTE Faculty” data fields. Be sure to report filled positions only. Filled positions are those that have salaries associated with them. Include paid leaves such as sabbaticals wherein the individual is receiving a salary, but exclude unpaid leaves of absence. Remember to include a department Chair as 1.0 FTE if he/she is being paid by the instructional budget.

In Column B, report the FTE portion of faculty lines that are supported by external or separately budgeted funds for purposes other than teaching, i.e., research or service. The remainder is the departmental or program instructional faculty FTE, and should be reported in the “Instructional” FTE faculty data field.

If faculty teach overload, their 1.0 FTE and regular load of SCH and OCS should be in the appropriate T/TT or Other Regular line of their home department.

Supplemental Faculty

Supplemental faculty are characteristically paid to teach out of a pool of temporary funds. Their appointment is non-recurring, although the same individual might receive a temporary appointment in successive terms. The key point is that the funding is, by nature, temporary and there is no expectation of continuing appointment.

Full time equivalency for supplemental faculty can be calculated by taking the total teaching credit hours (which are generally equivalent to the credit value of the course(s) taught) for each supplemental faculty, and dividing by 12. Twelve hours is a broadly accepted standard for a full time teaching load. (If your institution assigns one course unit instead of three or four credit hours to a course being taught, use a divisor of 4) Because Supplemental Faculty generally are not supported by external funds, Column C will typically equal Column A.

Any non-faculty person (dean, provost, etc.) teaching a course without additional compensation is considered “contributed service personnel” and you should calculate their FTE using the supplemental faculty convention described above and report their FTE, SCH and OCS in the supplemental faculty row.

Teaching Assistants

Students at the institution who receive a stipend strictly for teaching activity.

You are asked to assign an FTE value to teaching assistants, apportioned between credit bearing course activity where the teaching assistant is the instructor of record, and non-credit bearing course activity (i.e., section leader for zero-credit laboratories, discussion sections, recitation sections). To do this, take the FTE value for teaching assistants in a given academic department or program, as it appears in your personnel file.

Apportion the FTE as follows:

Credit Bearing Courses: Use the same convention as with Supplemental Faculty. Take all courses which are credit bearing and for which teaching assistants are the instructors of record, and divide the total teaching credit hours by 12. The resulting quotient is the teaching assistant FTE for credit bearing course activity.

Non-Credit Bearing Activity: From the total teaching assistant FTE, included in your personnel file, subtract the calculated FTE for credit bearing activity as outlined above. The difference is the FTE for non-credit bearing activity.

NOTE: In looking at student credit hours generated, by level of instruction, and number of organized class sections taught, refer only to your institution’s Fall semester workload file. Do not report data here for the full academic year.

Student Credit Hours

Course: An instructional activity, identified by academic discipline and number, in which students enroll, typically to earn academic credit applicable to a degree objective. Excludes courses that are not-for-credit, but includes course sections with zero credits which are requirements of or prerequisites to degree programs, and which are scheduled, and consume institutional or departmental resources in the same manner as credit courses. Zero-credit course sections are typically supplements to the credit-bearing lecture portion of a course. Zero credit sections are frequently listed as laboratory, discussion, or recitation sections in conjunction with the credit bearing lecture portion of a course.

Student credit hours should be aggregated and reported on the data form on the basis of course level of instruction and the classification of the faculty member. It is important to underscore that the criterion is level of course as opposed to level of the student registered in the course.

In addition to aggregation by course level, student credit hours should also be aggregated and reported, based upon the classification of the instructors (i.e., regular faculty, supplemental faculty, teaching assistant) teaching the respective courses.

Student credit hours should be reported for all courses taught by a faculty member who is budgeted to a given department, regardless of whether the course is taught in that department or elsewhere (i.e. using the “origin of instructor” reporting method).

To the extent possible, deal with team teaching situations by prorating student credit hours to individual faculty in an appropriate fashion. This is especially important where the faculty members in a team teaching situation are budgeted to different departments. The student credit hours should follow the faculty member. Use your institutional convention in making these proration decisions.

Course Credit: The academic credit value of a course; the value recorded for a student who successfully completes the course.

Lower Division Instruction: Courses typically associated with the first and second year of college study.

Upper Division Instruction: Courses typically associated with the third and fourth year of college study.

Graduate Level Instruction: Courses typically associated with post-baccalaureate study.

Organized Class Sections

Organized Class Course: A course that is provided principally by means of regularly scheduled classes meeting in classrooms or similar facilities at stated times.

Individual Instruction Course: A course in which instruction is not conducted in regularly scheduled class meetings. Includes “readings” or “special topics” courses, “problems” or “research” courses, including dissertation/thesis research, and “individual lesson” courses (typically in music and fine arts). Individualized instructions are not assigned any section counts.

Note that individualized instructions are not assigned any section counts.

Course Section: A unique group of students that meets with one or more instructors.

In reporting the number of sections taught at the respective levels of instruction, to the extent that your data base allows, please make certain not to double count dual listed (undergraduate and graduate sections of a single course meeting concurrently) and cross listed (a single course in which students from two or more disciplines may register under their respective department call letters) courses. In the instance of dual listed courses (a single course listed at both undergraduate and graduate level) parse out the student credit hours based upon how the students were registered. Be sure to then count the associated section the same way as the student credit hours by apportioning the section into the appropriate levels. With cross listed courses (a single course listed with multiple departmental call letters) assign all student credit hours and number of sections to the department funding the instructor’s salary.

Fall On-line Student Credit Hours

Student credit hours (SCH) provided in a virtual class arrangement. Please include in the fields provided for online student credit hours, the total undergraduate SCH and graduate SCH produced in the fall semester that were delivered exclusively in an online format. Classes in this category do not meet in a physical classroom. Please be mindful to include the SCH that are provided by faculty that are included in the Direct Instructional Budget for that department/program. The online productivity category does not include hybrid or blended courses where there are both elements of a traditional course that meets in a fixed place at a recurring specific time but also include an online component. Student credit hours delivered in a hybrid configuration should be included in the count of student credit hours disaggregated by faculty type in the Part A matrix.


Discipline - Example / Explanation

In Engineering, CIP Code 14.XX, you will be asked to provide data for those engineering disciplines at your institution. Suppose you had five engineering departments – agricultural, chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical. You would provide data for five discrete CIP Codes, i.e., 14.03 (Agricultural Engineering), 14.07 (Chemical Engineering), 14.08 (Civil Engineering), 14.10 (Electrical Engineering), 14.19 (Mechanical Engineering), etc. Institutions with different engineering departments would report data for the appropriate four-digit engineering CIP codes. The pattern would be repeated across other curricular areas.

If your Department of Foreign Languages offers French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Greek, and Latin, and you cannot cleanly dis-aggregate teaching workload and cost data into each of these disciplines, simply report the data as “Linguistic, Comparative, and Related Language Studies and Services,” CIP Code 16.01.


If a disciplinary area provides no “general” option, and you cannot cleanly dis-aggregate to specific curricular area, report a two-digit CIP code, e.g. Engineering Technologies And Engineering-Related Fields would be 15.00.

Special Note for SUG Users: Members of the Southern Universities Group and a number of other institutions and consortia have asked to benchmark at the six-digit CIP level. All participating institutions are encouraged to provide six-digit CIP codes in as many instances as feasible, and we will benchmark at that level wherever possible. Those data will then be rolled up to the four-digit level, at which all institutions will be benchmarked, consistent with the discussion above.

Degree Offering - Example / Explanation

For the 2020 cycle of The Cost Study you would average the degrees for academic years 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.

If it is a new program please estimate the number of degrees that will be awarded for the coming year.

Only report a degree as part of the average in the discipline’s first majors if the degrees were awarded to student who was a double major earning two distinct degrees. For example for a student earning a BA in Geography and a BS in Computer Science, include each degree as part of the averages reported within the two respective disciplines.

If you are unable to provide degree numbers, please mark the level of degrees that will be awarded for each level (i.e. if the new program will be granting bachelors and masters degrees put a “m” in each of the spaces provided for that level of degree.

All Majors - Example / Explanation

As stated above the study has, to this point, been collecting majors as reported in IPEDS per distinct degree. As dual degrees, for example two Bachelor degrees in the School of Business, are now becoming the norm we would like to begin collecting data on the average of all majors earned in a three year period.
For students earning two distinct degrees, for example a BA in Geography and a BS in Computer Science, be sure to include each degree as part of the average reported within the two respective disciplines. Now consider a student awarded a BS in Business with a dual major in Finance and Accounting and whose first major was Finance. Consistent with the historical data definition, the average entered in the Bachelor’s field under Degree Offerings would only include the Finance major. With the new field All Majors the average for the CIP associated with Finance would include this major and the All Majors average for the CIP associated with Accounting would include this major.

Instructional Workload Regular - Example / Explanation

Tenured and Tenure-Eligible: Those individuals who either hold tenure, or for whom tenure is an expected outcome. At most institutions, these are full, associate, and assistant professors.

Non-Tenure Track Faculty: Those individuals who teach on a recurring contractual basis, but whose academic title renders them ineligible for academic tenure. At most institutions, these titles include instructors, lecturers, visiting faculty, etc.

The FTE for Column C is computed by subtracting Column B from Column A. For example, suppose Professor Jones is a full time member of the Chemistry Faculty. He would be reflected as 1.0 FTE in Column A. Professor Jones has a research grant that contractually obligates him to spend one-third of his time in research. The externally supported portion of his position is 0.33 FTE, which would be reflected in Column B. As a result, 0.66 FTE is the instructional faculty which would appear in Column C, i.e., 1.0 FTE (Column A) minus 0.33 FTE (Column B).

If they taught an overload course which is also paid for by their home department, then the overload FTE (0.25 for one 3 credit course taught) would be counted as Supplemental faculty (see next box), and their overload SCH and OCS reported in the Supplemental line of their home department.

Supplemental - Example / Explanation

This category includes adjuncts, administrators or professional personnel at the institution who teach but whose primary job responsibility is non-faculty (e.g. dean, provost who may teach a course), “contributed service personnel” who teach but receive no additional compensation for teaching. An example of contributed service is the college president who teaches an occasional course but has no paid contractual arrangement for this teaching.

Teaching Assistants - Example / Explanation

Includes teaching assistants who are instructors of record, but also includes teaching assistants who function as discussion section leaders, laboratory section leaders, and other types of organized class sections in which instruction takes place but which may not carry credit and for which there is no formal instructor of record.

For purposes of this study, do not include graduate research assistants. If a graduate assistant’s FTE is split between research and teaching, only report the portion of their FTE that reflects their teaching activity.

It is understood that on many campuses, the non-credit bearing activity is not exclusively direct instructional activity, and may include activities such as grading papers. However, the decision to allow teaching assistants to do things other than teach is analogous to allowing other departmentally paid faculty types to take reduced loads to engage in non-teaching activity. In both instances, salaries are associated with personnel, and in the interest of consistency, the personnel should be counted as an FTE and expense component as is common practice in higher education.

Student Credit Hours (SCH) - Example / Explanation

The student credit hours generated by a second semester senior taking an introductory graduate course would be reported in the “graduate” column. Similarly, those generated by a first semester graduate student taking an upper division level prerequisite undergraduate course would be reported in the “upper division” column. (If your institution assigns one credit unit instead of three or four credit hours to a course, convert the units to credit hours by multiplying by 3 or 4, as appropriate.)

A faculty member who is budgeted to the History Department, and whose teaching load includes two History courses and one Political Science course, should have all of the student credit hour generated from these courses credited to the History Department.

If two faculty members are equally sharing instructional responsibilities for a 3 credit course with 30 students enrolled (90 student credit hours), 45 credit hours would be apportioned to Faculty A, and 45 credit hours to Faculty B. The same allocation would hold in appropriating the organized class section to the two faculty, i.e., 0.5 section to each.

Organized Class Sections (OCS) - Example / Explanation

The same conventions mentioned in the Student Credit Hours Section apply to reporting counts of organized class sections. The first column asks for the number of lab/discussion/recitation sections taught by each type of faculty whether or not they carry any credit. The remainder of the grid looks at lecture sections and all other organized class sections, disaggregated by level of instruction and by faculty type. Apply the same conventions described in the Student Credit Hours Section to prorating counts of class sections where team teaching has occurred.


Fall on-Line SCH - Example / Explanation

The data definition in The Cost Study prior to 2015 stated: “Distance education courses should only be included when the student credit hours and course sections can be reported in the same discrete way that a typical non-distance education course would be reported. In other words, we do not want the sections to be over inflated when there may be no unique time and place of the course offering.” This specification has resulted in the potential exclusion of student credit hours provided in a virtual class arrangement. Please include in the fields provided for online student credit hours, the total student credit hours produced in the given CIP discipline that are delivered exclusively in an online format. Classes in this category do not meet in a physical classroom. The Fall On-Line SCH field is intended to measure at an aggregate level for the fall semester, the quantity of instruction being taught in an exclusively virtual format regardless of the faculty type and course level. Classes delivered  using a massively open online course (MOOC)format typically do not fall within the domain of the Delaware Cost Study because they do not involve administrative tracking similar to courses that are included in the study.

Part III: Fiscal Year

Total Student Credit Hours

NOTE: The data collected on this portion of the data form require financial information for Fiscal Year 2019-20, and student credit hour data for the major terms in academic year 2019-20 that are supported by an academic department’s basic operating budget.

These major terms are generally Fall and Spring at institutions on a semester calendar, and Fall, Winter and Spring at institutions on a quarter calendar. You should use the same “origin of instructor” method of reporting for Part III as in Part II.

You are asked to provide the total number of student credit hours taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels, respectively, during the academic year. “Academic Year” refers only to those terms that are funded by the department’s instructional budget.

Remember to report student credit hour data by level of course as also required in Part A.

On-Line Student Credit Hours for the Academic Year

Report the combined number of SCH delivered in an exclusively virtual format for the academic year for the undergraduate and graduate levels. The total should include all fall semester SCH and the additional SCH taught by faculty paid from the fiscal year instructional budget.

Direct Expenditure Data / Instructional Budget Only

This study asks for total direct expenditure data in certain functional areas – instruction, research, and public service. Direct expenditure data reflect costs incurred for personnel compensation, supplies, and services used in the conduct of each of these functional areas. They include acquisition costs of capital assets such as equipment and library books to the extent that funds are budgeted for and used by operating departments for instruction, research, and public service. For purposes of this report, exclude centrally allocated computing costs and centrally supported computer labs, and graduate student tuition remission and fee waivers.

The instruction function, for purposes of this study, includes general academic instruction, occupational and vocational instruction, community education, preparatory and adult basic education, and remedial and tutorial instruction conducted by the teaching faculty for the institution’s students. Departmental research and service that are not separately budgeted should be included under instruction.

Research that is externally funded should be excluded from instructional expenditures, as should any departmental funds that were expended for the purpose of matching external research funds as part of a contractual or grant obligation.

EXCLUDE expenditures for academic administration where the primary function is administration. For example, exclude deans, but include department chairs.

You are asked to dis-aggregate total direct instructional expenditures for each discipline into three pieces of data (Salaries, Benefits and Other Than Personnel Expenditures):


Report all wages paid to support the instructional function in a given department or program during the fiscal year. While these will largely be faculty salaries, be sure to include clerical (e.g., department secretary), professionals (e.g., lab technicians), graduate student stipends (but not tuition waivers), and any other personnel who support the teaching function and whose salaries and wages are paid from the department’s/program’s instructional budget.


Report expenditures for benefits associated with the personnel for whom salaries and wages were reported on the previous entry. Some institutions book benefits centrally and do not disaggregate to the department level. If you can compute the appropriate benefit amount for the department/program, please do so and enter the data. If you cannot do so, leave the benefit amount as zero, and we will impute a cost factor based upon the current benefit rate (%) for your institution. If you know this benefit rate, please enter it. If no rate is available, we will use a default value of 28%.

Other Than Personnel Costs

This category includes non-personnel items such as travel, supplies and expense (e.g. printing, search expenses), non-capital equipment purchases (lab supplies, office equipment and software), etc., that are typically part of a department or program’s cost of doing business.


This category includes all direct funds expended for activities specifically organized to produce research outcomes and commissioned by an agency either external to the institution or separately budgeted by an organizational unit within the institution. This would include institutional funds that are separately budgeted, explicitly for the purpose of matching grant funds. Report total direct services expenditures only. It is not necessary to dis-aggregate costs for this category.

Note: Respondents at institutions with interdisciplinary research and service “Centers” should make every attempt to dis-aggregate expenditures in those centers on a pro rata basis to component disciplines/departments (e.g. agricultural extension dollars should be reported in the home department of the faculty investigator /coordinator). For those institutions with separate foundations for handling external research and service contracts and grants, funds processed by those foundations to departments/disciplines should be included.

Public Service

Report all direct finds separately budgeted specifically for public service and expended for activities established primarily to provide non-instructional services beneficial to groups external to the institution. Report total direct service expenditures only. It is not necessary to disaggregate costs for this category.

Total SCH - Example / Explanation

This means that the terms included in your academic year SCH figures are the same terms represented by the instructional expenses reported below. At most semester calendar institutions, this refers to the Fall and Spring terms. However, other academic terms may be included as consistent with institutional budget models. At quarter calendar institutions, Fall, Winter, and Spring terms are generally included.

On-Line SCH for AY - Example / Explanation

The online productivity category does not include hybrid or blended courses where there are both elements of a traditional course that meets in a fixed place at a recurring specific time but also include an online component. Student credit hours delivered in a hybrid or blended configuration should be included in the total annual count of SCH but not included in the distinctly on-line SCH delivered in an exclusively virtual environment. Classes delivered using a massively open online course (MOOC)format typically do not fall within the domain of the Delaware Cost Study because they do not involve administrative tracking similar to courses that are included in the study.

Other Than Personnel Costs - Example / Explanation

Excluded from this category are items such as central computing costs, centrally allocated computing labs, graduate student tuition remission and fee waivers, etc.

Public Service - Example / Explanation

Examples include cooperative extension and community outreach projects.