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The EDUCAUSE CORE DATA SERVICE (CDS) is a benchmarking service used by colleges and universities to inform their IT strategic planning and management. Institutions may use CDS to make the case for additional resources, to evaluate organizational structure and governance, or to calibrate or justify performance. CDS focuses on three pillars of IT: financing, staffing, and services, and is organized by a set of IT domains.

CDS comprises three parts:

  • Data Collection — The annual CDS survey collects information about IT financials, staffing, and services, and is organized into a set of required modules that collect core information and optional modules that collect more details on each IT domain. The survey opens in the summer and closes in the early fall. Survey modules:
    • Module 1: IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing (required)
    • Module 2: IT Support Services (optional)
    • Module 3: Educational Technology Services (optional)
    • Module 4: Research Computing Services (optional)
    • Module 5: Data Centers (optional)
    • Module 6: Communications Infrastructure Services (optional)
    • Module 7: Information Security (optional)
    • Module 8: Information Systems and Applications (optional)
  • Data Access — Data submitted in the survey flows into CDS Reporting, a self-service tool enabling institutions that submitted data to create custom peer groups, view data in graphs and tables, download detailed reports, and look up responses to individual questions. Data submitted in the summer becomes available in CDS Reporting during the winter.
  • Reports and Analyses — Throughout the year, EDUCAUSE researchers and community members collaborate to produce reports and other publications that summarize and analyze the submitted data. While some reports are restricted to ECAR subscribers, many are available to the larger community. The CDS annual summary report and quick-reference almanacs are released in the winter.

CDS data is governed by an Appropriate Use Policy (AUP) that establishes how the data must be protected by CDS participants, as well as how EDUCAUSE may use the data to communicate the state of IT and to enhance services to its diverse membership. A fundamental tenet of the institutional AUP is that access to identified data is limited to survey participants. View the AUP >


Why Participate?

CDS is a first step in an organization’s larger benchmarking efforts. CDS enables data submitters to gain access to comparative data from peer institutions, which can be used to:

  • Compare and contrast IT resource allocation to inform support models
  • Evaluate a particular data point (e.g., security risk posture, Internet connectivity, or BI/reporting tools) in comparison to other institutions to inform upcoming initiatives
  • Compare data among groups of peers, such as such as Carnegie classifications, AACC, AASCU, CLAC, Ivy+, and RUCC

Of course, data are an imperfect measure of complex situations, particularly in higher education. However, CDS will give institutions a starting point from which to jump into deeper analysis with other information and research particular to their own organization.

CDS survey data also contributes to the rich database that supports EDUCAUSE's service to members and enhances understanding of higher education IT across member campuses, as well as in the corporate community, the media, and the general public.


Who is Eligible?

All EDUCAUSE institutional members in the United States who report data to IPEDS, international institutional members, and all campuses in multi-campus systems and community college districts and campuses that have participated in the past are automatically eligible to participate. View eligible participants >

Other institutions of higher education may request to participate by contacting EDUCAUSE at


How Do I Get Started?

The 2103 survey is now closed. The 2014 survey will open in July. Subscribe to CDS Update to recieve updates and information on the next survey.



View the CDS Frequently Asked Questions or contact us:

  • 303-449-4430 (Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Mountain Time)

Why Participate?

You can use data from the CDS survey to:

  • Benchmark your IT organization against your peers
  • Make the case for additional resources
  • Evaluate your organizational structure and governance
  • Calibrate or justify performance




  • December: Module 1 data and Core Metrics released in CDS Reporting
  • January: Remaining module data released
  • February: Executive Summary report and almanacs published
  • July: CDS 2014 survey released


Get Involved

Keep up with important dates, tools, and resources. Sign up for our monthly newsletter >

Discuss CDS with other participants. Subscribe to the CDS discussion list >

Ask questions in the next CDS Office Hours.  Learn more >


"I have found CDS invaluable. The reporting tool provides many options for peer group creation, data retrieval, and presentation. I strongly encourage institutions to participate as you never know when you might need answers quickly."

— Kirk Kelly
Associate Vice President and CIO
Portland State University



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