Carnegie Classifications

About 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 are 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.

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About Elective Classifications

In 2005, the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education grew to include classifications that recognize institutions that have made extraordinary commitments to their public purpose. The Elective Classifications are sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and are managed on behalf of the Carnegie Foundation by an Elective Classification Central Office.

Institutions apply to be recognized by the Carnegie Foundation through a particular Elective Classification theme and make extraordinary commitments to that theme. Elective Classifications are not awards. They are evidence-based documentation of institutional policy and practices focusing on areas such as institutional culture and mission, curricular and co-curricular programming, continuous improvement activities, and the recruitment and reward of faculty, staff, and students.

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2021 Carnegie Classification Updates

Revisions 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 final 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, 2022 – Name changes and minor errors corrected.

We will not be making major changes until the next update, but we monitor name changes. We also welcome questions, comments, and glitch reports about the Classifications and the web site. Please contact as at if you have any questions.


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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)