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Annual Survey of Colleges

The easy way to share information about your institution with millions of prospective students

The Annual Survey of Colleges is a Web-based survey of nearly 4,000 accredited undergraduate colleges and universities in the U.S. The survey collects information of use to high school students, parents, and school counselors about the characteristics of each college including programs, costs, application requirements, and deadlines.

This information then appears in each participating institution's College Search profile, and in a series of four college guidebooks published by the College Board. Annual Survey data is also used to compile educational statistics for the Trends in Higher Education Series of annual research reports.

There is no charge to institutions for Web publication of their survey data, nor to the millions of students who use College Search each year.

Colleges eligible to participate in the survey automatically receive annual mailings containing login data and all other information needed to fill out the electronic survey questionnaire.

Eligibility for participation in Annual Survey of Colleges

To participate, an institution must offer programs at least on the associate degree level and be accredited by one of the following regional or national accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Regional accrediting associations

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • New York Board of Regents

National accrediting associations

  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools/Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)
  • Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
  • Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools (AARTS)
  • Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS)
  • Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
  • Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)

The Common Data Set

Many of the survey questions used in the Annual Survey of Colleges are taken from the Common Data Set, a suite of standardized questions used by major publishers of college guidebooks. The Common Data Set peers—representing College Board, Peterson's, and U.S. News & World Report—have developed and maintained the Common Data Set since 1995. The peers meet throughout the year with representatives of colleges and essential professional organizations so all constituencies in the higher education community can voice their concerns and share input about the standardization of collegiate survey questions.

The most recent Common Data Set and accompanying list of definitions can always be viewed on the Common Data Set website, where survey respondents and other interested parties may also subscribe to a very active listserv devoted to discussion of Common Data Set issues.