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 Felly Chiteng Kot, a student in our Institutional Research graduate certificate program!

What are your past/current areas of research?

My primary research interest focuses on factors that impact students’ academic performance/success. I am particularly interested in using a quasi-experimental research designs to examine these factors. Some of my previously published studies include the impact of academic advising, the impact of students’ use of library resources, and the impact of time allocation on academic performance. (I worked on this last study as a project in two of my IR Certificate courses.) Currently, I am working on a study that examines differences in academic performance between students admitted to our undergraduate program directly and those who are admitted only after completing our yearlong preparatory program. I am also working on a study that examines students’ use of Writing Center resources and how it impacts academic outcomes. Another key area of interest to me is change in student experiences and perceptions (more broadly), using longitudinal surveys. This was my IR Certificate capstone project, and I am currently expanding this study.

Why did you choose the Institutional Research certificate program at FSU? 

Although my academic background is higher education policy and administration, I had no formal training in Institutional Research when I entered this profession. After six years of practice, I determined that I needed to take my IR expertise to the next level. The main reason why I chose to pursue an IR Certificate is that I wanted to have a structured context in which I could explore and learn more about the theory and practice of IR. A graduate program seemed to be the perfect setting. Another reason (which is related to the first one) reason is that when I was hired for this current position, I was assigned the mission of developing institutional research capacity at this institution (which did not have any IR capacity before my arrival) and also helping other universities in the country develop such capacity. I wanted to use the program as a platform for me to critically reflect on what I had achieved (in building IR capacity at my institution and introducing other Kazakhstani academic institutions to IR) and see how to go to the next level. I am located outside the US, so I needed an online program. FSU was one of the few universities with an online Graduate Certificate in IR. I looked at the program and compared it to other programs and determined that it was of top quality and offered the type of courses that interested me the most. In addition, the program was more affordable than other programs that I explored.

What awards or accomplishments have you earned in IR/education research? 

I have been awarded a certificate of recognition from the President of Nazarbayev University for contributing to the development of the University (through my IR work). I have published several studies and have presented at international conferences (particularly the Association for Institutional Research and the European Association for Institutional Research). However, in my IR profession, the accomplishments that I see as more significant are when I produce analyses and studies that address issues of strategic importance to our stakeholders and have evidence that stakeholders find the insights relevant/useful. For instance, this month (October 2020), I just produced a study, based on a major survey, that examines different aspects of students’ experiences with remote learning. This study is currently generating a lot of interest and discussions at all levels (administrators, faculty, and students). Other accomplishments that I consider to be significant include mentoring new IR staff, organizing IR workshops for other universities in the country, and successfully organizing the first national IR Forum in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

What is your current professional role and organization? 

I am the Head/Director of Institutional Research and Analytics at Nazarbayev University (NU). NU is an emerging world-class research university founded by the government of Kazakhstan in 2010. My role is to build institutional research capacity and oversee the implementation of our IR strategic plan at NU. I focus on four key priorities: (1) producing data, information and insights to support evidence-based decision making; (2) fostering an analytical/data-driven culture at NU; (3) advancing institutional research practice in Kazakhstan; and (4) contributing to knowledge production on higher education in Kazakhstan (through research, publications, and conference presentations).

What coursework did you find most valuable in your continued work in education research? 

Looking at my entire graduate training (including IR certificate courses), I would say that quantitative research method courses and courses with a strong application component (i.e., those with an opportunity to work on real projects) have been the most valuable. I am happy to say that every single IR Certificate course that I took at FSU had a strong application component. Every course that I took gave me the opportunity to work on issues/questions of interest to my institution or to the broader higher education context. In addition to the two required courses, I took Data Driven Decision Making, Data Analysis for Institutional Research, and Data Mining. I also took Management in Higher Education (a course that I found to be particularly important for those working or aspiring to work as Directors of IR). Each of these courses has indeed contributed in a concrete way to my work in IR.

What advice or opinions about the IR Certificate would you want to give program to a prospective student? 

The program offers coursework that really fits the needs of people with or without IR experience. I started the program with six years of experience in IR and had classmates with no prior IR experience. If you are an experienced IR professional, the program will offer a platform for you to reflect on your practice and give you an opportunity to work on issues of interest to your institution. You will be able to take your expertise to the next level. I would recommend you use each course as an opportunity to work on concrete projects that will be of benefit to your institution (e.g., a report to be disseminated at your institution or a study to be presented at a conference or published). If you have no prior IR experience, you will learn a lot from your instructors and classmates, and you will be exposed to resources that will help you grow. In considering what electives to take, I would strongly encourage (prospective) students to consider Data Driven Decision Making, Data Analysis for Institutional Research, and Data Mining.


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!