Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education®

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education is the nation’s leading framework for categorizing diverse U.S. higher education institutions.

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About the Carnegie Classification®

The Carnegie Classification® is the leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education. In 1970, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education began developing a classification of colleges and universities to support its program of research and policy analysis. The framework was first published in 1973 and is now updated every 3 years to reflect changes among colleges and universities.

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246 An icon of two hands praying

Institutions are classified as Special Focus Four-Year: Faith-Related Institutions


Institutions hold the Community Engagement Classification


Small, highly residential institutions primarily offer baccalaureate arts & science degrees

Elective Classifications

The Carnegie Elective Classifications are recognitions earned by institutions that have made extraordinary commitments to their public purpose. Institutions apply for recognition from the Carnegie Foundation through a particular Elective Classification theme and make extraordinary commitments to that theme. There are currently 2 Elective Classifications for which institutions can apply: the Elective Classification for Community Engagement and the Elective Classification for Leadership for Public Purpose.

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Community Engagement Application

View application resources and requirements.

November 1, 2023

Changes to the Next Iteration of the Carnegie Classifications: We Want Your Feedback

by Mushtaq Gunja and Sara Gast Today, the American Council on Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced that the 2025 Carnegie Classifications will include a new Basic Classification that will organize institutions based on multidimensional categories that reflect a variety of characteristics about today’s colleges and universities. While this is an exciting development in our work ...

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About the Site

The Carnegie Classification site provides an Institution Search tool that allows users to search and filter institutions based on one or more Carnegie Classifications. You can also find a wealth of knowledge and resources on the Carnegie Classifications at the links below.


Find answers to the most common Carnegie Classification questions.

News Room

Access blog posts and press releases with information on higher education.


Read about the history of Carnegie Classifications.