With data being asked across a number of colleges, the definitions have changed to reflect the standardization, but also to be in line with the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). 

The term "Graduate Survey" itself has changed to more accurately state the information being reported as the graduates' "first-destination" with society bring increasingly mobile and changes happening more frequently.

In lieu of the term "placement rate," these standards instead focus on the notion of a "career outcomes rate." The term "knowledge rate" defines the percent of graduates for whom the institution has reasonable and verifiable information concerning the graduates' post-graduation career activities. 

The goal should be the highest possible rate, but institutions should strive for a minimum knowledge rate of 65 percent. The knowledge rate refers to basic information about the career outcomes of graduates (e.g., employed or continuting education).


  • Career Outcomes - the percentage of graduates who are employed full- or part-time, in military or volunteer service, and enrolled in continuing education.
  • Knowledge Rate - the percent of graduates who have career outcomes information (either self-reported before graduation, or administratively added from various 3rd parties)
  • Response Rate - only the number of students who have completed the survey.

NACE National Standards

Career outcomes data, in accordance with federal and various state regulations and policies, should be readily available to all appropriate parties. All information provided through public outlets should ensure the confidentiality of individual respondents and individual respondents’ information should only be provided in accordance with an institution’s internal policies concerning private information. Institutions should use whatever means they believe are most effective in making this information available to their stakeholders or as required by some other agency or entity (e.g., state system reporting process).

NACE also wishes to acknowledge the inherent limitations in focusing on first-destination outcomes. The positive impact of a college education cannot be measured in the simple terms of employment, earnings, or continued studies. The full benefits of the profoundly personal growth, enrichment, and increased knowledge evidenced by graduates cannot be adequately measured nor properly accounted for in the near-term. The most significant and substantive outcomes occur over the lifetime of the individual graduate.