I am interested in doing a project on graduate life-paths and need to be able to see the cohort a student graduated in in a given subject?

i.e. can I say I want a list of all the people who graduated from College College in 19XX with a BSc in Television Television?

So I have been googling and just started writing to schools, but I've been unable to find this or find out if it is even possible to gain access to such a database.

I appreciate your help and look forward to your thoughts!

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    It seems like this would be protected information in the US, and likely many other countries. – Azor Ahai -him- Mar 31 '20 at 22:21
  • @AzorAhai, it is unlikely that the numbers would be protected. But the names of individuals would be. Universities sometimes publish bits of this information in advertising, actually. – Buffy Mar 31 '20 at 22:47
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    @Buffy Yes, and the OP is asking for names ... – Azor Ahai -him- Mar 31 '20 at 23:05
  • It's possible for reference verification. It is not appropriate to discuss methodology on a public forum – Garet Claborn Apr 1 '20 at 0:34
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    @AzorAhai: For the US, Names and dates of graduation would be "directory information" under FERPA and as such not protected. Degree and major is perhaps a gray area, but is quite often disclosed publicly, e.g. in printed commencement programs. In fact, commencement programs would be a good potential source of the data the OP wants. – Nate Eldredge Apr 1 '20 at 13:10

Such data exists at the universities and departments. However, in many jurisdictions there are legal restrictions that would limit their ability to share it with you. There are also practical limitations: the departments want to keep a good relationship with their alumni. If the alumni get contacted every other week by someone doing a project, then that would be bad.

So to get access to these data is hard work. You need to convince them that this is a serious project, maybe you need IRB approval. You'll need to find a way to use that list without violating the law. Sometimes this involves you don't contact the alumni directly, but the department does, who will sent you the annonymised results. All this requires quite some investment by the department, so what is in it for them? Maybe they want to add a module to your questionair?

  • "in many jurisdictions there are legal restrictions that would limit their ability to share it with you" I don't believe you. Usually there is a right to privacy for all educational information except the information that you earned a degree. – Anonymous Physicist May 1 '20 at 7:05
  • There is no indication that contact is needed. – Anonymous Physicist May 1 '20 at 7:06
  • In the US, under FERPA, information about students is classified as "directory information" or not. Degrees granted to a student are normally directory information. By default, directory information can be disclosed by the university, but students also have a right to restrict the disclosure of directory information. Once a student requests that their directory information be kept confidential, the university will not verify that the student attended or graduated without an explicit waiver from the student. Because some students opt for this, you can't get a full list of graduates.. – Brian Borchers May 1 '20 at 20:20

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