Surveys of the Penn Population


Penn annually surveys First-Time, First-Year undergraduate students prior to the beginning of fall classes. In most years, incoming students receive the COFHE Survey of New Students (SNS), but every 4th year, incoming students receive the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey instead. The surveys cover a wide range of informational areas: demographics; financial aid; values, attitudes, and beliefs; High School experiences, activities and achievements; preparation for college and expectations; long-term educational, career, and life goals.



The Enrolled Student Survey (ESS) and the Perception of Undergraduate Life and Student Engagement (PULSE) assess students' general satisfaction with the collegiate experience, as well as their perceived acquisition of knowledge, skills and abilities as a result of attending college. This information is gathered through 40 core questions in ESS and 60 core questions in PULSE, covering the academic environment, faculty and advisors, intellectual gains and progress, employment, extracurricular activities, health and well-being, and demographics. Institutions may independently, or collaboratively with other participating institutions, append additional questions. Penn includes a set of questions related to the culture and climate of the institution.


Senior Survey

The Senior Survey is designed by COFHE, and is administered to seniors, via the web, every four years in the later part of spring semester. It asks seniors about their post-graduation plans, evaluations of their undergraduate education and services provided by the college, values, and participation in activities.



The Ph.D. Enrolled Student Survey (PhD-ESS) is periodically administered to the census of doctoral students enrolled at Penn. The PhD-ESS collects information about a broad range of topics related to the doctoral student academic experience at Penn, and also provides an opportunity for PhD students to register feedback about their satisfaction with Penn services as well as their impression of the quality of campus life. Many of the questions included on the PhD-ESS were developed in collaboration with peers from Ivy-Plus institutions.


Ph.D. Exit Survey

Originally entitled the "Survey of Doctoral Student Opinion," Penn's current Ph.D. Exit Survey was developed by the Office of the Provost in 1995. The survey gathers a wide variety of information from recent Penn doctoral recipients, and the results assist in monitoring the quality of Ph.D. education at Penn. Program level reports of survey data are regularly used by the Graduate Council of the Faculties during Penn's periodic review process of its various Ph.D. programs. The survey contains approximately 70 questions, at least 6 of which are common to all participating Association of American Universities (AAU) institutions.


Postdoc Survey

The purpose of the Postdoc survey is to better understand the experiences of postdoctoral fellows at Penn, and to gather information that might be used by the University to improve recruitment, retention, and treatment of postdocs. The content of this survey came originally from an instrument designed by MIT. A major goal of the administration is to be able to compare Penn's responses to those of postdoctoral fellows at other large research institutions.


Alumni Survey

The Alumni Survey is a retrospective assessment of the college experience. It is designed to generate feedback from Alumni for the purpose of assessing outcomes on several dimensions. These include involvement as undergraduate students, perceptions of institutional emphases, as well as estimated gains in knowledge and skills. Additionally, the Alumni Survey gathers information about activities and experiences following graduation, employment and further education, work and civic contributions, as well as career and life satisfaction.


Faculty Survey

The purpose of the Penn Faculty Survey is to better understand the experiences of faculty members at Penn. Both standing and associated faculty are asked to provide information about a wide variety of topics. The survey gathers information that may assist the University in its efforts to enhance faculty recruitment, retention, and climate. Faculty responses also assist in guiding policy development, assessing potential areas for improvement or concern, and benchmarking against peer institutions.


Parent Survey

Every 5 years Penn participates in the COFHE Parent Survey. Parents and guardians of traditional undergraduate students who are enrolled during the spring semester are invited to complete the survey. The Parent Survey addresses issues of parental satisfaction and engagement, as well as issues related to financing their child's education at Penn, and gathers a wide variety of demographic information about Penn parents. It also collects information about the extent and quality of parental involvement with the both the institution and with their child while enrolled at Penn. The Parent Survey represents one of the most exhaustive sources of information about Penn Parents.