Updated Carnegie Classification Shows More CIC Member Institutions Offer Graduate Programs

​The Carnegie Classification—the leading framework for describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for nearly 50 years—has been in the news a good deal recently, with implications for CIC and all member institutions.

Earlier this year, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the American Council on Education (ACE) announced a collaboration on the Carnegie Classification. The administration of the Universal and Elective Classifications will now be based in a single organizational home at ACE, instead of being divided between the Center for Postsecondary Research of the Indiana University School of Education and the Public Purpose Institute at Albion College (MI).

Along with the consolidated venue, Carnegie and ACE also announced the creation of a new classification system built around social mobility. To be launched in 2023, the Social and Economic Mobility Classification will affect all CIC institutions as a universal classification, like the Basic Classification, and not an elective classification, such as the Community Engagement or the Leadership for Public Purpose Classification. Jason Rivera, CIC’s director of strategic research, commented, “Although the new classification system is still in its early stages of development, CIC has already begun to have conversations with ACE and is working to understand the impact it will have both broadly on our sector and specifically on member institutions. Meanwhile, CIC is happy to welcome a new neighbor at One Dupont Circle and is excited to be working with both ACE and Carnegie moving forward.”

In addition, this February (after a multi-week review and comment period), the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education finalized its 2021 update of the Basic Classification. Now on a three-year cycle of revision, the Basic Classification provides a framework for administrators, policymakers, and researchers and influences grant-making and federal and state funding decisions. CIC’s Rivera noted that not much changed from the 2018 Basic Classification in terms of new or revised categories, but he highlighted that 2018 introduced the “Doctoral/Professional” category.

So what does CIC look like from a Carnegie perspective? What changed from 2018 to 2021?

Two charts depicting classigication changes to CIC institutions  


“What we see reflects a trend that has been underway for several years,” replied Rivera. “Among CIC members, the number of purely baccalaureate institutions is shrinking and the number of those offering graduate degrees is growing (see figures above). This is especially driven by the ‘Doctoral/Professional’ category that was introduced in the 2018 Basic Classification.”

CIC will explore other aspects of the independent higher education sector and member institution trends in future issues of Data Dive.



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