Institutional Research

Data-driven decision making in higher education

This online  certificate program provides academic and professional development opportunities to current or prospective institutional researchers or higher education administrators who are interested in using data to inform decision-making. The program is designed for current institutional researchers, administrators, graduate students, and/or faculty from all areas of higher education. Courses are designed to enhance your knowledge and understanding of institutional research and assessment; explore institutional, state, and national databases; and apply new knowledge to practical situations. The goals of this program are to:

  • Enhance knowledge and understanding of assessment and institutional research and the issues of current practice.
  • Promote the use of institutional research in policy development and administration in post-secondary educational institutions.
  • Foster the use of national databases (IPEDS, etc.) to address educational issues and problems.
  • Promote professional collaboration and the advancement of institutional research in the US and other countries.

Admission Requirements

Step 1: Apply for admissions to the University (select one)

Florida Residency Form: If you are a Florida resident, you must complete the Florida Residency Affidavit even if you were previously designated a Florida Resident by the University. If you do not complete this form, you will be classified as a non-Florida resident for tuition purposes.

Step 2: Complete Admissions Form

Admission to the graduate certificate program is required. Students are not enrolled in a certificate program by virtue of being enrolled in related courses. Students must apply to and be admitted to the certificate program in order to be considered enrolled.

IMPORTANT: In order to be eligible for admission to a graduate certificate program, an applicant must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution, or a comparable degree from an international institution.

Admission to College of Education (COE) graduate certificate programs requires submission of the Certificate Admissions Form prior to the completion of two courses in the certificate program.

The Certificate Admissions Form must identify the courses and anticipated semesters you intend to take to fulfill certificate requirements. Students can enroll in either fall or spring semesters and may take seven years to complete the required 15 credit hours.

Courses in the certificate program may be applicable to a graduate degree; however, you should consult with your major professor to determine which courses are applicable to specific graduate programs.

Course Offerings and Requirements

You must complete 15 credit hours to earn the IR certificate. All courses below are three credit hours and are offered online.

Required courses (9 credit hours):

  • EDH 5055: Introduction to Institutional Research (Spring)

This course provides an introduction to institutional research as a discipline in higher education. Course content is addressed within the context of organizational, administrative, political and ethical issues in institutional research. Practical experience with research databases and insights from current practitioners in the field are integrated into the course content.

  • EDH 5645: Data-Driven Decision Making (Summer)

This course provides an introduction to the theoretical and practical application of data-driven decision making for institutional researchers. This course focuses on how to collect, analyze, review, and present data and information to decision-makers.

  • EDF 5941: Institutional Research Practicum (capstone) (Fall)

This course provides students with an opportunity to actively apply the use of institutional research geared at improving administration and policy developmental processes at institutions or participate in an internship through an Office of Institutional Research at a local campus.

Electives (6 credit hours):

Select two courses from the following:

  • EDF 5461: Introduction to Program Evaluation (Summer)
  • EDF 5449: Survey Research Methods (Spring)
  • EDF 6474: Foundations of Practice Models (Fall – online EdD only)
  • EDF 6480: Applied Quantitative Methods for Educational Practitioners (Summer – online EdD only)
  • EDF 6471 Quasi-Experimental Data Analysis (Alt. Spring Semesters)
  • EDF 5414 Introduction to Large Scale Datasets (Alt. Spring Semesters)
  • EDF 5401 General Linear Modeling (Fall) 
  • EDF 6479 Qualitative Data Analysis (Summer)
  • EDF 6476 Advanced Qualitative Methods (Spring)
  • EDH 5078 Outcomes Assessment in Higher Education (Spring)

Course Schedule

O = online
X = face-to-face

Required Courses

Course Title




EDH 5055

Introduction to Institutional Research




EDH 5645

Data-driven Decision Making




EDF 5941

Institutional Research Practicum





Elective Courses

Course Title­




EDF 5461

Introduction to Program Evaluation




EDF 5449

Survey Research Methods




EDF 5474

Foundations of Practice Models (online EdD students only)




EDF 6480

Applied Qualitative Methods for Educational Practitioners
(online EdD students only)




EDF 5935

Quasi-experimental Methods
(offered every other year)




EDF 5414

Large Data Sets
(offered every other year)




EDF 5401

General Linear Modeling




EDF 6479

Qualitative Data Analysis




EDF 6476

Advanced Qualitative Research




EDH 5078

Outcomes Assessment in Higher Education





Certificate Completion Form

Program Costs

By state law, students are charged different fees based on their residency and student status. See current rates here.

FSU Full-Time Employees (not OPS): If you are a full-time employee at FSU receiving benefits, you may be eligible for the FSU Employee Tuition Scholarship. The scholarship waives the tuition and fees for 6 credit hours per semester. Click here for more details.

State Employee (FL) Tuition Waiver: Some employees of the State of Florida are eligible for the State Employee Tuition Waiver. Click here for more details.

Current FSU Graduate Students: In most cases, the cost of FSU IR Certificate courses should match the cost of your other graduate coursework.

Student Spotlight

Meet Mark Duslak, an alumnus of our Institutional Research graduate certificate program!

Why did you choose the Institutional Research Certificate program at FSU? 
Mark Duslak: Primarily, I was excited for the connections I could make with faculty, who were experienced and passionate about the field of Institutional Research.  From a pragmatic standpoint, I was already enrolled in the Ed. D. program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. This certificate required only a few additional courses beyond my elective courses.  

What are your past/current areas of research?

MD: My early research interests involved quantitatively exploring the communication dynamic between K-12 school counselors and principals.  After that project, I began a multi-year study involving collaborative autoethnography with a focus on the professional identity development of academic advisors.  My most recent publication explored higher education administrator’s views of the role of academic advisors.

What is your current professional role and organization? 
MD: I am the Director of Process Improvement, Institutional Research, and Compliance at Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg, Florida.  I’ve been in this position for 2 months.  Prior to that, I was the Associate Dean of Students.

What coursework did you find most valuable in your continued work in education research? 
MD: Introduction to Institutional Research, Data Driven Decision Making, and the Practicum were the most valuable courses for me.  They informed my work as a supervisor new to the field of Institutional Research and helped guide our development of the mission and vision of this newly reformed department.  It was helpful to have instructors who worked in the IR field and could provide real-world examples of the concepts illustrated in these courses.  These courses raised my confidence in pursuing a career in IR.

What advice or opinions about the IR Certificate would you want to give program to a prospective student? 
MD: Even if you do not have an immediate interest in a career in IR, the knowledge, skills, and dispositions gained in this Certificate program are applicable to a host of other careers.  For example, teachers, administrators, and executive-level decision makers need to understand how data informed decision-making works.  In fact, gaining this knowledge has the potential to enhance any career path. Also, as advice to a new professional in IR, I would recommend gaining some functional knowledge of data structures and data query programming language (e.g. SQL).


Q: Are standardized tests, like the GRE, required for admission to the program?

A: We do not need GRE scores. All we look for in new applicants is that they have a bachelor’s degree and have an expressed interest in the field of institutional research.


Q: I’ve taken courses similar to the ones offered by the IR Certificate in the past; can I transfer them?

A: In many cases, yes. If the courses were graduate-level and you completed them within the last five years, we may be able to transfer up to three credits (one course).


Q: If I transfer a course, do I have to take another IR Certificate course in place of those credit hours?

A: No, you do not have to take an additional course to make up the credit hours. Your transferred courses will simply take the place of 1 of the IR Certificate courses.


Q: Is there any financial assistance for the IR Certificate?

A: FSU does not provide financial assistance for the IR Certificate, but many of our students qualify for the State Employee Tuition Waiver or they are able to utilize professional development funds at their home institutions to supplement the cost of the course(s).


Q: How quickly am I expected to complete courses?

A: Our expectation is that you complete at least one course per semester once you are enrolled in the certificate program. Per the Graduate School policy, students who are not enrolled at the university for two or more consecutive semesters (or consecutive semester and summer term) and who are not on an approved leave of absence, must apply for readmission before resuming their studies.

Q: My supervisor just told me that I’m responsible for a new project, so I’m going to have to withdraw from a course. What should I do?

A: Withdrawing from courses and possible penalties depend on timing. If you find that you need to withdraw from a course before class begins, your tuition and fees might be refunded to you. If you are past FSU’s drop/add date for the semester, we may be able to give you an “Incomplete” and you can finish the course at a time agreed upon by you and the instructor. To review all of these options and your particular situation, please contact the IR Certificate’s Program Coordinator.


Q: What is the student-faculty ratio? Are faculty members accessible via Skype for students who need some “face time” interaction?

A: Most of our courses have from 10 to 25 students in a course, with a teaching assistant to help the instructor in larger courses. It is an option for our faculty to Skype with students but not a requirement. All of our faculty want students to succeed and are certainly willing to make personal connections with students. Faculty may be willing to Skype or sometimes staying in touch with a phone call works well.


Q: Are there specific meeting times during the courses when we will be expected to attend?

A: Our courses do not have a set meeting place or time. You’ll be completely within the Canvas online environment for all classes. Our courses are “asynchronous” which means “self-paced.” Students are given a timeframe – it’s usually a one-week window – during which they need to connect to their class at least once or twice. Your assignments and discussions will have timelines and due dates but you will not be “in class” during a specified time period.

Program Contact

Click here to e-mail us!