The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education
is a framework for classifying, or grouping, colleges and universities in the United States. The primary purpose of the framework is for educational research and analysis, where it is often important to identify groups of roughly comparable institutions. The classification includes all accredited, degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...
-granting colleges and universities in the United States that are represented in the National Center for Education Statistics
The National Center for Education Statistics is the part of the United States Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences that collects, analyzes, and publishes statistics on education and public school district finance information in the United States...
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, often abbreviated IPEDS, is the core postsecondary education data collection program for the National Center for Education Statistics, a part of the Institute for Education Sciences within the United States Department of Education...
The Carnegie Classification was created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (hereafter referred to as "The Carnegie Foundation") in 1973; reports were issued in that year, 1976, 1987, 1994, and 2000. The latest report, issued in 2005, has substantially reworked the classification system. It is based on data from the 2002–2003 and 2003–2004 school years.
Information used in these classifications comes primarily from IPEDS and the College Board
The College Board is a membership association in the United States that was formed in 1900 as the College Entrance Examination Board . It is composed of more than 5,900 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations. It sells standardized tests used by academically oriented...
. Classifications of particular institutions can be found on the Carnegie Foundation's Institution Lookup website
Doctorate-granting Universities are those institutions that awarded at least 20 doctorates in 2003–04. These Universities are further classified by their level of research activity, as measured by research expenditures, number of research doctorates awarded, number of research-focused faculty, and other factors.
- Research Universities (RU/VH) (very high research activity) (96)
- Research Universities (RU/H) (high research activity) (103)
- Doctoral/Research Universities (DRU) (83)
Master’s Colleges and Universities
Master’s Colleges and Universities are those institutions which "awarded at least 50 master’s degrees in 2003–04, but fewer than 20 doctorates."
- Master’s Colleges and Universities (Master’s/L) (Larger Programs – awarding at least 200 Masters-level degrees) (346)
- Master’s Colleges and Universities (Master’s/M) (Medium Programs – awarding 100–199 Masters level degrees) (190)
- Master’s Colleges and Universities (Master’s/S) (Smaller Programs – awarding 50-99 Masters level degrees) (128)
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...
Colleges are those institutions at which "bachelor’s degrees accounted for at least 10 percent of all undergraduate degrees and they awarded fewer than 50 master’s degrees (2003–04 degree conferrals)."
- Baccalaureate Colleges—Arts & Sciences (Bac/A&S) (287)
- Baccalaureate Colleges—Diverse Fields (Bac/Diverse) (360)
- Baccalaureate/Associate’s Colleges (Bac/Assoc) (120)
Associates colleges are defined as institutions whose "highest degree conferred was the associate’s degree or if bachelor’s degrees accounted for less than 10 percent of all undergraduate degrees (2003–04 degree conferrals)."
- Associate’s—Public Rural-serving Small (Assoc/PubRS) (142)
- Associate’s—Public Rural-serving Medium (Assoc/PubRM) (311)
- Associate’s—Public Rural-serving Large (Assoc/PubRL) (144)
- Associate’s—Public Suburban-serving Single Campus (Assoc/PubSSC) (110)
- Associate’s—Public Suburban-serving Multicampus (Assoc/PubSMC) (100)
- Associate’s—Public Urban-serving Single Campus (Assoc/PubUSC) (32)
- Associate’s—Public Urban-serving Multicampus (Assoc/PubUMC) (152)
- Associate’s—Public Special Use (Assoc/PubSpec) (14)
- Associate’s—Private Not-for-profit (Assoc/PrivNFP) (114)
- Associate’s—Private For-profit (Assoc/PrivFP) (531)
- Associate’s—Public 2-year Colleges under Universities (Assoc/Pub2in4) (55)
- Associate’s—Public 4-year, Primarily Associate’s (Assoc/Pub4) (18)
- Associate’s—Private Not-for-profit 4-year, Primarily Associate’s (Assoc/PrivNFP4) (20)
- Associate’s—Private For-profit 4-year, Primarily Associate’s (Assoc/PrivFP4) (71)
Special Focus Institutions
Special Focus Institutions were classified "based on the concentration of degrees in a single field or set of related fields, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Institutions were determined to have a special focus with concentrations of at least 80 percent of undergraduate and graduate degrees. In some cases this percentage criterion was relaxed if an institution identified a special focus on the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges, or if an institution’s only accreditation was from a body related to the special focus categories."
- Theological seminaries, Bible colleges, and other faith-related institutions (Spec/Faith) (314)
- Medical schools and medical centers (Spec/Medical) (57)
- Other health profession schools (Spec/Health) (129)
- Schools of engineering (Spec/Engg) (8)
- Other technology-related schools (Spec/Tech) (57)
- Schools of business and management (Spec/Bus) (64)
- Schools of art, music, and design (Spec/Arts) (106)
- Schools of law (Spec/Law) (32)
- Other special-focus institutions (Spec/Oth) (39)
Tribal colleges are members of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium
The American Indian Higher Education Consortium was established in 1972, in order to represent the interests of the newly developed tribal colleges, which are controlled and operated by American Indian nations...
- Tribal colleges and universities
Tribal colleges and universities are a category of higher education, minority-serving institutions in the United States. The educational institutions are distinguished by being controlled and operated by Native American tribes; they have become part of American Indians' institution-building in...
Undergraduate Instructional Program
The Undergraduate Instructional Program classification combines (a) the ratio of Arts and sciences and professional fields (as defined in the Classification of Instructional Programs
(CIP)) and (b) the coexistence of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels (again using the CIP).
Arts and sciences and professional fields
Institutions are categorized based on the proportion of undergraduate majors in arts & sciences or professional fields based on their 2-digit CIP.
- Associates Only (Assoc): Only award Associates degrees.
- Associates Dominant (Assoc-Dom): Some bachelor’s degrees are awarded but more associates's degrees are awarded.
- Arts & Sciences Focus (A&S-F): At least 80 percent of awarded undergraduate degrees are in the Art & Sciences.
- Arts & Sciences + Professions (A&S+Prof): Between 80 and 59 percent of awarded undergraduate degrees are in the Arts & Sciences.
- Balanced Arts & Sciences/Professions (Bal): 41 to 59 percent of awarded undergraduate degrees are in each domain.
- Professions + Arts & Sciences (Prof+A&S): Between 80 and 59 percent of awarded undergraduate degrees are in a professional field.
- Professions Focus (Prof-F): At least 80 percent of awarded undergraduate degrees are in a professional field.
Institutions are categorized based on the proportion of undergraduate and graduate programs (defined by their 4-digit CIP) that coexist.
- No coexistence (NGC): No programs coexist.
- Some coexistence (SGC): Some graduate programs coexist with undergraduate programs but less than half.
- High coexistence (HGC): At least half of the graduate programs coexist with undergraduate programs.
Graduate instructional program
The Graduate Instructional Program classification indicates (a) if the institution awards just Master's degrees or Master's degrees and doctoral degrees and (b) in what general categories the graduate degrees are predominantly awarded. Institutions that do not award graduate degrees are not classified using this scheme.
Postbaccalaureate graduate programs
Institutions that offer graduate and professional programs (such as law schools) but do not award the doctorate are classified as having "Postbaccalaureate" graduate programs. These programs are classified by the fields in which the degrees are awarded.
- Single postbaccalaureate (education) (S-PostBac/Ed): Only offer graduate training in education.
- Single postbaccalaureate (business) (S-PostBac/Bus): Only offer graduate training in business.
- Single postbaccalaureate (other field) (S-PostBac/Other): Only offer graduate training in a field other than education or business.
- Postbaccalaureate comprehensive (PostBac-Comp): Offer graduate training in the humanities, social sciences, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine (STEM), and one or more professional fields.
- Postbaccalaureate, arts & sciences dominant (PostBac-A&S): Only offer graduate training in the arts and sciences.
- Postbaccalaureate with arts & sciences (education dominant) (PostBac-A&S/Ed): Offer graduate training primarily in the arts and sciences with some training in education.
- Postbaccalaureate with arts & sciences (business dominant) (PostBac-A&S/Bus): Offer graduate training primarily in the arts and sciences with some training in business.
- Postbaccalaureate with arts & sciences (other dominant fields) (PostBac-A&S/Other): Offer graduate training primarily in the arts and sciences with some training in a field other than education or business.
- Postbaccalaureate professional (education dominant) (PostBac-Prof/Ed): Offer graduate training primarily in professional fields with some training in education.
- Postbaccalaureate professional (business dominant) (PostBac-Prof/Bus): Offer graduate training primarily in professional fields with some training in business.
- Postbaccalaureate professional (other dominant fields) (PostBac-Prof/Other): Offer graduate training primarily in professional fields with some training in a field other than education or business.
Doctoral degree programs
Institutions that offer doctoral degrees, including medical and veterinary degrees, are classified by the field in which the degrees are awarded.
- Single doctoral (education) (S-Doc/Ed): Only award doctoral degrees in education.
- Single doctoral (other field) (S-Doc/Other): Only award doctoral degrees in a single non-education field.
- Comprehensive doctoral with medical/veterinary (CompDoc/MedVet): (a) Award doctorates in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields, (b) graduate or professional degrees in one or more professional fields and (c) award medical or veterinary doctoral degrees.
- Comprehensive doctoral (no medical/veterinary) (CompDoc/NMedVet): (a) Award doctorates in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields, (b) graduate or professional degrees in one or more professional fields and (c) do not award medical or veterinary doctoral degrees.
- Doctoral, humanities/social sciences dominant (Doc/HSS): Most doctorates are awarded in the humanities and social sciences.
- Doctoral, STEM dominant (Doc/STEM): Most doctorates are awarded in the STEM fields.
- Doctoral, professional dominant (Doc/Prof): Most doctorates are awarded in professional fields other than engineering.
The Enrollment Profile of institutions are classified according to (a) the level of the highest degree awarded and (b) the ratio of undergraduate to graduate students.
- Exclusively undergraduate two-year (ExU2): Students are not awarded bachelor's or higher degrees.
- Exclusively undergraduate four-year (ExU4): Students are only awarded bachelor's degrees.
- Very high undergraduate (VHU): Less than 10 percent of students are graduate students.
- High undergraduate (HU): More than 10 percent but less than 25 percent of students are graduate students.
- Majority undergraduate (MU): More than 24 percent but less than 50 percent of students are graduate students.
- Majority graduate/professional (MGP): Less than 50 percent of the students are undergraduates.
- Exclusively graduate/professional (ExGP): Students are only awarded degree higher than bachelor's.
The Undergraduate Profile of institutions is classified according to (a) the proportion of part-time undergraduate students to full-time students, (b) the institutions selectivity in admitting undergraduate students, and (c) the percentage of students who transfer into the university.
Enrollment status is classified according the ratio of part-time to full-time students (degree seeking students in the case of 4-year institutions).
- PT2: Higher part-time two-year: More than 60 percent of students at this 2-year institution are part-time.
- Mix2: Mixed part/full-time two-year: Between 39 and 60 percent of students at this 2-year institution are part-time.
- MFT2: Medium full-time two-year: More than 60 but less than 91 percent of students at this 2-year institution are full-time.
- FT2: Higher full-time two-year: More than 90 percent of students at this 2-year institution are full-time.
- PT4: Higher part-time four-year: More than 39 percent of students at this 4-year or higher institution are part-time.
- MFT4: Medium full-time four-year: More than 60 percent but less than 80 percent of students at this 4-year or higher institution are full-time.
- FT4: Full-time four-year: More than 79 percent of students at this 4-year or higher institution are full-time.
Selectivity is classified according to the SAT
The SAT Reasoning Test is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. The SAT is owned, published, and developed by the College Board, a nonprofit organization in the United States. It was formerly developed, published, and scored by the Educational Testing Service which still...
The ACT is a standardized test for high school achievement and college admissions in the United States produced by ACT, Inc. It was first administered in November 1959 by Everett Franklin Lindquist as a competitor to the College Board's Scholastic Aptitude Test, now the SAT Reasoning Test...
scores of first-time first-year students; only 4-year or higher institutions are classified.
- Inclusive (I): Admitted students had an average ACT-equivalent score less than 18
- Selective (S): Admitted students had an average ACT-equivalent scores between 17 and 22
- More Selective (MS): Admitted students had an average ACT-equivalent score greater than 21
Transfer origin characterizes the percentage of students who transfer to the institution; only 4-year or higher institutions are classified.
- Lower transfer-in (LTI): Less than 20 percent of students transfer into the institution.
- Higher transfer-in (HTI): More than 19 percent of students transfer into the institution.
Size and setting
The Size and Setting classification classifies institutions according to (a) the size of their student body and (b) the percentage of student who reside on campus. Exclusively graduate and professional institutions and special-focus institutions are not classified by their size and setting.
The size of institutions is based on their Full-time Equivalent (FTE) enrollment. FTEs are calculated by adding the number of full-time students to one-third the number of part-time students. 2-year colleges are classified using a different scale than 4-year and higher colleges.
- Very small two-year (VS2): Fewer than 500 FTEs attend this two-year institution.
- Small two-year (S2): At least 500 but fewer than 2000 FTEs attend this two-year institution.
- Medium two-year (M2): At least 2000 but fewer than 5000 FTEs attend this two-year institution.
- Large two-year (L2): At least 5000 but fewer than 10000 FTEs attend this two-year institution.
- Very large two-year (VL2): 10000 or more FTEs attend this two-year institution.
- Very small four-year (VS4): Fewer than 1000 FTEs attend this four-year institution.
- Small four-year (S4): At least 1000 but fewer than 3000 FTEs attend this four-year institution.
- Medium four-year (M4): At least 3000 but fewer than 10000 FTEs attend this four-year institution.
- Large four-year (L4): More than 10000 FTEs attend this four-year institution.
The setting of institutions is based on the percentage of full-time undergraduates who live in institutionally-managed housing. Two-year institutions are not classified by their setting.
- Primarily nonresidential (NR): "[F]ewer than 25 percent of degree-seeking undergraduates living on campus or fewer than 50 percent enrolled full-time were classified as primarily nonresidential."
- Primarily residential (R): (a) At least 25 percent of degree-seeking undergraduates live on campus and (b) at least 50 percent but less than 80 percent attend full-time are classified as primarily residential.
- Highly residential (HR): "[A]t least half of degree-seeking undergraduates live on campus and where at least 80 percent attend full-time were classified as highly residential."
In contrast to previous classifications, the 2005 classification scheme is a "set of multiple, parallel classifications." According to Alexander C. McCormick, Senior Scholar at The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and director of the classifications project, "The five new classifications are organized around three central questions: 1) What is taught, 2) to whom, and 3) in what setting?" In addition to the new classification categories, the previously used classification scheme ("Basic classification") has been revised.
The Carnegie Foundation is also developing one or more voluntary classification schemes that will rely on data submitted by institutions. The first will focus on outreach and community engagement and the second on "how institutions seek to analyze, understand, and improve undergraduate education."
The Carnegie Foundation has no plans to issue printed editions of the classifications. Their website
has several tools allowing researchers and administrators to view classifications.
Revisions in the basic classification
The "basic classification" is an update of the original classification scheme. In addition to changing the names of some categories, the 2005 revision differs from previous editions in that it:
- Splits Associates colleges into subcategories. This is based on the work of Stephen Katsinas, Vincent Lacey, and David Hardy at the University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States....
and is an update of work funded in the 1990s by the Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is a private foundation incorporated in Michigan and based in New York City created to fund programs that were chartered in 1936 by Edsel Ford and Henry Ford....
- Categorizes doctorate-granting institutions according to their level of research activity. This level is calculated using multiple measures, financial and otherwise.
- Simplifies the measurement of doctorate degrees awarded.
- Divides Master’s colleges and universities into three categories based on the number of Master's degrees awarded.
- Deprecates "Liberal Arts
The term liberal arts refers to those subjects which in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free citizen to study. Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic were the core liberal arts. In medieval times these subjects were extended to include mathematics, geometry, music and astronomy...
- Modified the criteria separating Master's and Baccalaureate institutions. Institutions formerly classified as Master’s Colleges and Universities are now classified as Baccalaureate Colleges.
- Requires institutions to have higher levels of single-field or related-field concentration for designation as special-focus institutions and utilizes more sources of information to identify special-focus institutions.
- Splits the "Schools of engineering and technology" category into two categories and eliminates the "Teacher’s colleges" category.
- Measures and classifies service academies using to the same criteria as other institutions.
Prior to the 2000 edition, the Carnegie Foundation categorized doctorate-granting institutions according to the amount of Federal
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...
funding they received. The 2005 edition categorizes doctoral-institutions according to their research support but uses a more complex formula than used in previous editions. Despite the fact that it is no longer used by the Carnegie Foundation, the descriptor Research I
Research I university was a category previously used by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education to indicate those universities that engaged in extensive research activity....
is still commonly used in reference to universities with the largest research budgets, often by the institutions themselves in their promotional materials.