UCUES employed a modular design in order to include a greater number of items, and to decrease individual response times. The questionnaire contained a set of core questions administered to every respondent as well as four unique modules of additional questions that were randomly assigned. The core questions focused primarily on topics related to academic program review but also covered student demographics, use of time and general satisfaction. The three common modules include Student Life and Development, Academic Engagement, and Civic Engagement. A fourth module allowed individual campuses to survey their students on issues of campus concern.
A slightly different version of the core was offered to students with a declared major in contrast to undeclared students. Students with a declared major were defined by individual campuses (specific definitions are available upon request). The core questions for majors focused specifically on students' experience in their major department.
Student respondents evaluated many different aspects of campus life including academic advising, campus climate, courses and instruction, and interaction with faculty.
UCUES provides information about student behavior including their use of time for working, studying, socializing, and participating in campus and family activities; how they participate academically (e.g., how much course material they read, collaborative learning); self-ratings of academic and interpersonal skills; and involvement in community service.
UCUES documents student attitudes such as their self-perceptions and goals, political beliefs and affiliations, and perceptions of the role of the research university.
UCUES also collects background information not available through other student data sources, especially family immigration background.