This 15 semester hour Certificate in Institutional Research and Effectiveness (IRE) prepares professionals to use data for institutional and organizational decision-making, reporting, and accountability in higher education and K-12 contexts.

Growing Professional Competencies

In an era of increasingly scarce resources for educational institutions, the need to focus efforts on effective practices and policies has never been greater. Universities and schools face escalating accountability demands that require substantial data sharing and analysis. Careful data analyses are necessary to ensure that desired learning and success outcomes are achieved, and that students’ experiences and outcomes are equitable across key groups. The sophistication required for appropriate data collection, management, analyses, and reporting in educational settings extends well beyond the training of most MA and Ed.S. graduate programs in education, and certainly exceeds the boundaries of professionals trained in other fields (master’s degrees in business fields, public administration, social work, or disciplinary doctorates).

The IRE certificate will amend and complement students’ professional competence in other areas (business affairs, information technology, student affairs, development, etc.) to prepare them with the skills and capabilities to use data to improve educational improvement, accountability, quality, and equity. Students will learn about data collection, management, and analysis, as well as the reporting and dissemination of results for communicating with a diverse range of audiences and stakeholders.

The Certificate in Institutional Research and Effectiveness draws upon the unique strengths of the University of Iowa’s College of Education, bringing together faculty affiliated with the Center for Research on Undergraduate Education, the Center for Evaluation and Assessment, the Center for Advanced Studies in Measurement and Statistic, as well as our top ranked graduate programs. Together, the UI College of Education brings together its substantial expertise in methodology for educational research, evaluation, and assessment to serve the needs of educational leaders by offering this professional certificate. Creating pathways for professional competencies such as this advances the College’s mission, in the pursuit of improving educational institutions’ use of information and data to transform educational practice in the state of Iowa and across the globe.

The skills provided by this program will be useful to professionals across a wide array of fields and settings that are associated with educational interventions, programs, and outcomes. For example, beyond schools and universities, business and non-profit organizations also recognize the need for data-driven decision-making, continuous improvement, and public transparency to improve the quality of their training and education programs. Therefore, in addition to adding depth and breadth in a key competency area for current EPLS students, this certificate will also prepare graduates and returning professionals for potential employment in education-aligned sectors or in organizations beyond the traditional school and university setting.

Enrollment for Degree-seeking Graduate Students

All UI students in good standing enrolled in a graduate program will be eligible to complete the certificate. To complete the Certificate in Institutional Research and Effectiveness (IRE):

  1. Discuss the IRE Certificate with your advisor.
  2. Complete and submit the IRE Enrollment Form. The IRE Certification will be added as a Program of Study in your academic record.
  3. Complete the required coursework (see below).*
  4. Submit the Certificate Completion Form to the Coordinator of the IRE Certificate by emailing it to Your completed form will be reviewed by the Coordinator, by a Graduate College representative, and your transcript will be reviewed to confirm course completion.
  5. Once all required documents are successfully completed, you will receive the certificate and it will be noted on your transcript.

Admission for Non-degree seeking Graduate Students

Non-degree seeking students who wish to complete the IRE certificate will be required to follow the Graduate College procedures for admission (application, transcript, fee). Admissions to the Certificate in Institutional Research and Effectiveness will be considered on a rolling basis, and an EPLS admissions committee will review and take actions on all applicants. Students admitted to the IRE certificate program will hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and, ideally have relevant work experience in the field of education, or hold a master’s degree in an education-related field. The GRE will not be required for admission consideration to this certificate.

To seek admission in the Certificate in Institutional Research and Effectiveness (IRE).

  1. Complete the University of Iowa non-degree online application form. In the “Purpose of Attending” box, type that you are applying to complete the Certificate in Institutional Research and Effectiveness. With this application you will have to pay a $40 admission fee and submit an official transcript.
  2. Complete and submit the IRE Enrollment Form. You may complete this form at the same time as you submit the non-degree online application form.
  3. Once you have completed steps 1 and 2, and your enrollment application is complete, your materials will be reviewed for admission. Following the review, you will be notified of the decision status of your application.
  4. For admitted non-degree students, the Coordinator of the IRE program will assign you an advisor. Non-degree students should contact their advising to discuss course sequencing and registration.
  5. Complete the required coursework (see below).*
  6. Submit the Certificate Completion Form to the Coordinator of the IRE Certificate by emailing it to Your completed form will be reviewed by the Coordinator, by a Graduate College representative, and your transcript will be reviewed to confirm course completion.
  7. Once all required documents are successfully completed, you will receive the certificate and it will be noted on your transcript.

Non-degree students may, at any time, pursue admission into a graduate program at the University of Iowa. Having been enrolled in the IRE Certificate will not guarantee acceptance into any graduate program at the University of Iowa. If accepted into a program, inform your advisor about your enrollment in the IRE Certificate and send an e-mail to the Coordinator of the IRE Certificate, providing the name of your program of study, degree objective, and the name of your advisor.

*Note on a student enrolling in more than one Certificate: Students may use course credits from the Certificate in Institutional Research and Effectiveness as part of their academic Plan of Study as determined by their program. A student may pursue more than one certificate; however, particular courses cannot be used to meet the requirement of both certificates and as credits for the academic Program of Study. For questions, please visit with your advisor, the coordinators of the certificate programs in which you are enrolled, or a Graduate College representative.

The certificate program develops skills in institutional research. The course sequence contributes to development of the competencies necessary for performing well in the administrative area of institutional research: quantitative statistical skills, knowledge of a range of social science research design and methods, familiarity with complex data environments, and facility with reporting and presenting information to a range of internal and external audiences.

The 15 semester hours / five course sequence will be taught by College of Education Faculty. Nine semester hours are required, and 6 hours are elective. The elective course consists of selecting two of three specified classes. The Certificate in Institutional Research and Effectiveness requires the following coursework.

Required courses (9 semester hours):

EPLS: 5240 Topics in Education - Introduction to Institutional Research and Effectiveness
This course provides an exploration of key topics within institutional research and effectiveness, which include the reporting of data to external and internal stakeholders as well as the use of data for assessing and improving institutional environments and programs. In addition, this course will delve into relevant practical issues, such as ways to share findings with a variety of audiences and to help educators use those findings to enact meaningful changes.

EPLS:6370 Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis
Methodological strategies for quantitative research; analysis of secondary data to investigate educational issues and policies; recoding variables, summation scaling and factor analysis, missing data, sample design and survey estimation, model building; implementation of linear and binary regression, regression diagnostics; hands-on experience conducting statistical analysis of social data.

PSQF:6243 Intermediate Statistical Methods 
Application and interpretation of correlation techniques, chi-square, t- and f-tests, interval estimation, simple cases of analysis of variance.

Electives (6 semester hours)

EPLS:6209 Survey Research and Design
Survey design and implementation; writing and evaluation of survey questions; error in survey research; techniques to reduce error; sampling; postcollection processing of survey data.

EPLS:6266 Program Evaluation 
Theoretical issues and considerations in evaluation of educational and social programs; evaluation design, methodology; metaevaluation; evaluation utilization.

EPLS: 6352 Action Research in Educational Settings
Theory and practice of action research design and methodology; understanding of positionality and bias in action research, how to assess strengths and weaknesses of action research studies; completion of an action research cycle.

Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.50 in work for the certificate. They must earn at least a grade of C in each course required for the certificate. Courses may not be taken pass/nonpass.

Courses will be taught in-person or in hybrid formats. The course delivery format will vary based on the needs of the enrolled students.  The EPLS department and programs regularly assess which types of students need particular courses when making course projections and delivery formats.

IRE Certificate students will be assigned an EPLS faculty advisor.  EPLS faculty will assist students in tracking their progress towards completion of the certificate.


  • Brian An
  • Cassie Barnhardt
  • Nick Bowman
  • Katharine Broton
  • Lesa Hoffman
  • Liz Hollingworth
  • Stephen Murley
  • Brooke Strahn Kolher 
  • Center for Research on Undergraduate Education
  • Center for Evaluation and Assessment
  • Center for Advanced Studies in Measurement and Assessment