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.

Learn more about the 2025 Basic Classification >

Learn more about the 2025 Social and Economic Mobility Classification >

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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.

May 13, 2024

Centering Students in Our Draft Framework for the Carnegie Social and Economic Mobility Classification

By Mushtaq Gunja and Sara Gast Life-saving research. World-shaping cultural exchange. A shared sense of civic participation. Creating pathways for adults to gain new skills. Equipping local employers with a ready workforce. The contributions colleges and universities make to American life are as varied as the institutions themselves. But from the smallest community college to the largest public university, one shared ...

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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.

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Read about the history of Carnegie Classifications.