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Citizenship - Count individuals as either U.S. citizens and permanent residents or as foreign nationals holding temporary visas. Do not count foreign students living outside the United States.

  • U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents-U.S. citizens, including those from Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories, and permanent residents holding green cards.
  • Foreign Nationals Holding Temporary Visas-Individuals in the United States on temporary visas. Individuals who are native residents of Puerto Rico or a U.S. territory, or permanent residents holding green cards, should be included under U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Non-U.S. citizens without temporary visas who reside outside the U.S. and who are enrolled in an on-line degree program at a U.S. institution should be excluded. Do not report foreign nationals by ethnicity or race.


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Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) - This is an academic discipline taxonomy maintained by the US Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). CIP codes are used for the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data collections. Completion of IPEDS surveys is mandatory for all institutions that participate in federal Title IV funding. Detailed information about the 2010 CIP codes can be found here. If you are unfamiliar with these codes, or are uncertain whether or not these codes exist on your campus, you may find it helpful to contact the Institutional Research office on your campus.

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Department of Agriculture - Financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) includes research assistants working on projects financed out of agency formula funds, competitive research grants, and institution fellowship and training grants.

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Department of Defense - Financial support from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) including the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as other programs within DOD.

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Department of Energy - Financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research grants, including those supported by grants at the DOE National Laboratories.

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Doctoral Degree - See PhD or PhD equivalent degree.

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Doctorate or Doctoral Degree (for Postdocs) - Includes doctorates such as PhD, ScD, DSc, DEng, DESc, DES, DNSc, DPH, EdD, DA, DBA, DMA, DM, DSW, DDES, DPA, DPE, DCM, DHL, DIT, DME, DML, ThD, DFA, JSD, SJD, STD, JCD.

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Ethnicity - The U.S. Office of Management and Budget defines ethnicity separately from race (please see separate entry for Race). In this survey, ethnicity refers to whether an individual is of Hispanic or Latino descent-a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. Also see Hispanic/Latino ethnicity, one or more races.

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Excel Macro - A macro in Microsoft Excel is an automated function. In the GSS, Upload Option 2 uses a Macro to automatically reformat an individual level data file into an aggregated upload file which can then uploaded to the GSS.

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Federal Research Grants - Grants from any agency, office or department of the U.S. government that supports specific research goals. See Nonfederal Sources of Support.

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Federal Sources of Support - Financial support provided by the federal agencies listed. For graduate students, count students primarily supported by federally guaranteed student loans (student's own resources) as self-supported. See additional entries for the Department of Defense, the Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Energy. See Nonfederal Sources of Support.    For additional information please see Federal Funding Agency and Sub-Agency List.

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Fellowships - A competitive award (often from a national competition) to a graduate student or a postdoc.

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First-time Enrollment - First-time graduate students are those enrolled for graduate-degree credit in your organizational unit for the first time in the fall of the reporting year. This may include graduate students previously enrolled in another graduate degree program at your institution or at another institution. It may also include students that already hold another graduate or professional degree. Only count full-time, first-time students in these columns.

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Foreign Nationals Holding Temporary Visas - Individuals in the United States on temporary visas. Individuals who are native residents of Puerto Rico or a U.S. territory, or permanent residents holding green cards, should be included under U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Non-U.S. citizens without temporary visas who reside outside the U.S. and who are enrolled in an on-line degree program at a U.S. institution should be excluded. Do not report foreign nationals by ethnicity or race.

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Full-Time Student - Use your institution's policy and definition to count full-time students.

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GSS (Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering) - An annual survey collecting information about graduate enrollment, postdoctoral researchers, and doctoral-degree-holding nonfaculty researchers in science, engineering, and selected health fields. Jointly sponsored by NSF and NIH, the GSS provides a comprehensive picture of the training of future scientists, engineers, and health professionals in U.S. graduate schools.

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Health and Human Services (HHS) - Report financial support from the institutes or divisions of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under HHS-NIH only. Report support from all other components of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under HHS-Other than NIH. See HHS–National Institutes of Health (NIH) Only and HHS–Other than NIH.

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HHS–National Institutes of Health (NIH) Only - Financial support received from the following organizations within the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

John E. Fogarty International Center
National Cancer Institute
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
National Eye Institute
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
National Institute of Mental Health
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institute of Nursing Research
National Institute on Aging
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Library of Medicine
National Office of the Director

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HHS–Other than NIH - Other than NIH, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) includes the following organizations:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Health Resources and Services Administration
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Administration for Children and Families
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Indian Health Service

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Highest Degree Offered - The highest degree granted (master's, PhD or PhD-equivalent) by the organizational unit.

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Hispanic/Latino Ethnicity, one or more races - Only report ethnicity for U.S. citizens (including those from Puerto Rico and U.S. territories). All foreign nationals holding temporary visas should be reported appropriately. Include all individuals of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. Count all individuals who are Hispanic/Latino, or Hispanic/Latino and any other race(s), in this category.

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ID - A unique identification assigned to each user for the purpose of logging into the GSS online data collection system. Also referred as User ID.

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Institutional, State/Local Government Support - Financial support (such as stipends or tuition) provided by the institution or state or local governments. This category includes students receiving tuition waivers.

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Largest or Primary Mechanism of Support - The mechanism of funding that provides the largest amount (highest percentage) of financial support for each graduate student or postdoc. If a student or postdoc is supported by two or more equal mechanisms of support, select one as the primary.  For additional information please see Federal Funding Agency and Sub-Agency List.

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Largest or Primary Source of Support - The source of funds that provides the largest amount (highest percentage) of financial support for each graduate student or postdoc. When determining the largest source of support for graduate students, consider all graduate school academic expenses (tuition, fees, etc.). If a student or postdoc is supported by two or more equal sources of support, select one as the primary.

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Master's Degree - A post-baccalaureate, research-focused degree; includes MA, MS, MASc, and PSM in GSS eligible disciplines.


Please report students based on the highest eligible degree in which the student is enrolled. If a student is enrolled in multiple eligible degree programs at the same level (e.g., two master's programs in GSS eligible fields), count the student in their primary degree program only. If a primary degree program cannot be established, please report under only one of the GSS eligible programs.

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - Report individuals who receive financial aid from this agency.

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National Science Foundation - Financial support from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) graduate fellowships and traineeships, as well as support under NSF research grants.

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Nonfaculty Researchers - All doctorate-holding researchers who are (1) not considered either postdoctoral researchers or members of the faculty, and (2) involved principally in science and engineering or health-related research activities. Also referred to as Other Doctorate-Holding Nonfaculty Researchers.

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Nonfederal Sources of Support - Support from state and local government; support from your institution, such as tuition waivers and stipends; support from foreign sources, such as foreign governments, foreign firms, and agencies of the United Nations; and other U.S. sources, such as support from nonprofit institutions, private industry, and all other nonfederal U.S. sources.

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Non-Hispanic/Latino ethnicity - Count only individuals who are not of Hispanic or Latino descent as a specific race (i.e. Asian, White, Black/African American). Individuals who are Hispanic/Latino, or Hispanic/Latino and any other race, should be counted as Hispanic/Latino ethnicity (one or more races).


  • One race, Black or African American - A person of only one race having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.
  • One race, American Indian or Alaska Native - A person of only one race having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment
  • One race, Asian - A person of only one race having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam
  • One race, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander - A person of only one race having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific islands
  • One race, White - A person of only one race having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa
  • More than one race reported (non-Hispanic/Latino) - A person reporting two or more of the race categories listed above. Individuals who report being Hispanic/Latino and one or more race, should be reported Hispanic/Latino ethnicity (one or more races) instead.


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Organizational Unit (Unit) - This term refers to the names of the organizational units where graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and other doctoral-degree-holding nonfaculty researchers are enrolled and/or work. A unit can be a teaching unit, research unit, or both a teaching and research unit. Also see Research Unit and Teaching Unit.  Units are often departments, institutes, centers, labs or degree programs.

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Organizational Unit Name (Unit Name) - The name of an eligible organizational unit. This should be the descriptor used in your data systems to refer to the unit. For example: Department of Biology, School of Aerospace Engineering, CHEM, or University Center for Interdisciplinary Research.  

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Other Doctorate-Holding Nonfaculty Researchers - All doctorate-holding researchers who are (1) not considered either postdoctoral researchers or members of the faculty, and (2) involved principally in science and engineering or health-related research activities. Also referred to as Nonfaculty Researchers.  Units are often departments, institutes, centers, labs or degree programs.

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Other Federal sources - Financial support from U.S. federal agencies not listed elsewhere. Examples are the Fulbright program (State Department), the G.I. Bill (Department of Veterans Affairs) and various programs in the Department of Education.

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Other support - All other mechanisms of financial support for graduate students or postdocs.

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Other U.S. sources - Financial support from industrial firms, nonprofit institutions (e.g., independent research institutes, professional societies, philanthropic foundations), and all other sources of support originating within the United States. It does not include loans, family money, personal savings used by students supporting themselves, or federal or academic institutional sources of support.

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Part time Graduate Student - Use your own institution's policy and definition to count part-time students.

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Password - Used with the user ID for the purpose of logging into the GSS Web survey. The password may be changed by the user by clicking on "Change password" in the menu at the top of the screen. The new password must be at least 8 characters in length and include a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. School coordinators can resend password and ID information to unit respondents on the Send or Resend ID/Password screen. See ID.

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Personal resources (for Postdocs) - The personal and family financial resources, including federal and other loans.

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Person ID - This is a unique identifier number for each individual included in the GSS upload data file that you can create to help you reference the data at a later date. This ID should not be based on any personally identifiable information (e.g., student ID, social security number). The person_id could be as simple as a sequential number generated for each individual (1, 2, 3, ...) you are reporting to GSS.

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PhD or PhD equivalent Degree - An advanced, research-focused academic degree – typically the highest degree granted in a particular field; includes doctorates such as PhD, ScD, DSc, DEng, DESc, DES, DNSc, DPH, EdD, DA, DBA, DMA, DM, DSW, DDES, DPA, DPE, DCM, DHL, DIT, DME, DML, ThD, DFA, JSD, SJD, STD, JCD.


Please report students based on the highest eligible degree in which the student is enrolled. If a student is enrolled in multiple eligible degree programs at the same level (e.g., two doctorate programs in GSS eligible fields), count the student in their primary degree program only. If a primary degree program cannot be established, please report under only one of the GSS eligible programs.

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Postdoc Coordinator - Individual responsible for submitting the postdoc portion of the survey to NSF.

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Postdoctoral researcher or Postdoc - The definition of a postdoc varies by institution. Please use your institution's definition of a postdoc. NSF defines a postdoc as meeting both of the following qualifications:


  1. Holds a recent doctoral degree, generally awarded within the last 5-7 years, such as:
  • PhD or PhD-equivalent (e.g., ScD or DEng) or
  • Professional degree in a medical or related field (MD, DDS, DO, DVM) or
  • Foreign degree equivalent to a U.S. doctoral degree


  1. Has a limited-term appointment, generally no more than 5–7 years:
  • Primarily for training in research or scholarship and
  • Working under the supervision of a senior scholar in a unit affiliated with your institution


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Professional Degree - PhD-equivalent medical degrees, such as MD, DO, DVM, DDS, DNP, DPM, PharmD, PsyD, DMD, ND, DC, OD, DPT, AuD, OTD, DScPT.

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Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories - U.S. Territories include: American Samoa, Guam, Federated States of Micronesia, the Northern Marianas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Race/Ethnicity - Only report race for U.S. citizens (including those from Puerto Rico and U.S. territories) and permanent residents. All foreign nationals holding temporary visas should be reported appropriately. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget defines race separately from ethnicity (please see entry for Ethnicity and Hispanic/Latino). The GSS survey uses the following definitions of race:


  • One race, Black or African American - A person of only one race having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa
  • One race, American Indian or Alaska Native - A person of only one race having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment
  • One race, Asian - A person of only one race having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam
  • One race, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander - A person of only one race having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific islands
  • One race, White - A person of only one race having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa
  • More than one race reported (non-Hispanic/Latino) - Individuals reporting two or more of the race categories listed above. Individuals who report being Hispanic/Latino and one or more race, should be reported as Hispanic/Latino ethnicity (one or more races) instead


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Race/ethnicity unknown or not stated - Use this category if neither the race nor the ethnicity of the individual are known. If the race is known, but the ethnicity is unknown, report the individual by race. If the individual is Hispanic or Latino but the race is unknown, report the individual as Hispanic/Latino.

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Research Assistantships - A financial award given to a graduate student where most of the student's responsibilities are devoted primarily to research assistant activities.

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Research Grant - A financial assistance award given to an organization or an individual postdoc that supports specific research goals.

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Research Unit - Research centers, health care facilities, and other organizations at the academic institution that appoint postdoctoral researchers and/or employ doctorate-holding nonfaculty researchers.  Also see Organizational Unit and Teaching Unit.

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School Coordinator - Person responsible for completing the GSS for the entire school or a portion of the institution.

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Self-Support - Report students primarily supported by loans (including federal loans) or personal or family financial contributions.

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Student's own resources - The personal and family financial resources, including federal and other loans.

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Taxonomy - The organizational structure of GSS eligible disciplines. It contains four levels of detail: areas, broad fields, detailed fields, and subfields. It is currently being updated to reflect changes to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) Taxonomy of Disciplines (TOD).

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Taxonomy Tool - An interactive version of the GSS code list to assist in recoding of units potentially impacted by the changes in the taxonomy. Use of the tool is mandatory for all units uploaded with GSS Codes.

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Teaching Assistantships - A financial award given to a graduate student where most of the student's responsibilities are devoted primarily to teaching assistant activities.

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Teaching Unit - Departments or programs that grant graduate-level degrees including master's, PhD or PhD-equivalent degrees (i.e., ScD, DEng). Do not include units that grant only professional degrees. Also see Research Unit and Organizational Unit.

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Traineeships - A financial award given to a graduate student or a postdoc selected by the institution

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Unit - See Organizational Unit.

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Unit Name - The name of a GSS eligible unit that is stored in the institutional database you use to report student enrollments or postdoc employment. This is the name of the unit that you will see in the GSS system.

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Unit ID - A unique ID associated with reported units. This ID can contain letters, numbers, or both and should reflect whatever is stored in the institutional database you use to report student enrollments or postdoc employment. This should not be the same as the unit name.  Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

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Unit Respondent - Person(s) responsible for reporting unit data to the School Coordinator or Postdoc Coordinator.

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Unknown or not stated - Use this category if the sources of financial support for the postdoc are unknown or cannot be determined.

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User ID - A unique identification assigned to each user for the purpose of logging into the GSS online data collection system. Also referred as ID.

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U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents - U.S. citizens, including those from Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories, and permanent residents holding green cards.

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