Carnegie Classifications

About the Carnegie Classification®

The Carnegie Classification® is the leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education. The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed the classification in 1973 to support its program of research and policy analysis. Derived from empirical data on colleges and universities, the Carnegie Classification was updated in 1976, 1987, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, 2018, and 2021 to reflect changes among colleges and universities.

The framework is used in the study of higher education and is intended to be an objective, degree-based lens through which researchers can group and study similar institutions. Carnegie Classifications are used in research study design to ensure adequate representation of sampled institutions, students, or faculty, among other uses.

In 2021, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the American Council on Education (ACE) began a partnership to reimagine the Carnegie Classifications. For the first time, the Universal and Elective Classifications have been brought together in a single organizational home at ACE. The two organizations are now working together to develop new and refined versions of the Classifications to better reflect the public purpose, mission, focus, and impact of higher education.

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2021 Carnegie Classifications

The 2021 Carnegie Classifications can be accessed through the Institution Search by selecting the desired classification from the filter options on the left. They can also be accessed through the methodology pages, such as the 2021 Basic Classification methodology page.

The 2021 Carnegie Classifications include any institution that conferred at least one degree in the academic year 2019-20, as reported through the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The Classifications also include data from military service institutions that do not currently participate in the IPEDS survey. Further information on the criteria for inclusion is available from IPEDS.

Revisions to the 2021 Carnegie Classifications have been posted as follows:

  • Version 1: December 15, 2021 – Public Review version released
  • Version 2: December 21, 2021 – Fixed a few noted glitches
  • Version 3: January 5, 2022 – More glitch fixes and requested and approved changes
  • Version 4: January 26, 2022 – More glitch fixes and requested and approved changes
  • Version 5: February 2, 2022 – Public Review period ended
  • Version 6: February 18, 2022 – Minor fixes to Ugrad Profiles, Size & Setting, prior year classifications fixes; 2 institutions recovered
  • Version 7: May 2, 2022 – Name changes and some clean-up
  • Version 8: June 17, 2022 – One institution that had suspended degrees added
  • Version 9: September 2, 2022 – Name changes, one corrected classification, and clarifications on the variables and values tabs. Two additional updates (9/9/22).
  • Version 10: March 30, 2023 – Name changes and minor errors corrected.
  • Version 11: February 29, 2024 – Name changes and the addition of the 2024 Community Engagement classified campuses.

We will not be making major changes until the 2025 Carnegie Classifications are released in early 2025, but we monitor name changes. We also welcome questions, comments, and glitch reports about the Classifications and the web site. Please contact us at

Recommended Citation (APA Format)

Current Version

Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research (n.d.). The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, 2021 edition, Bloomington, IN: Author.

Web Site

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education (n.d.). About Carnegie Classification. Retrieved (date optional) from


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Data Sources

The 2021 Classification update is based on the following data sources:

  • IPEDS 2019-20 Completions
  • IPEDS Fall 2020 Enrollment (preliminary)
  • IPEDS Fall 2020 Human Resources (preliminary file)
  • FY20 NSF Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey
  • Fall 2019 NSF Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (GSS)