Classification Description

Undergraduate Instructional Program Classification


The Undergraduate Instructional Program Classification focuses attention on undergraduate education, regardless of the presence or extent of graduate education. Undergraduate education is an essential component of what most colleges and universities do, as the vast majority of U.S. institutions of higher education teach undergraduates. Indeed, even at institutions with strong commitments to graduate education and the production of new knowledge through research and scholarship, the undergraduate program usually accounts for the majority of student enrollment. (Similarly, our undergraduate profile classification focuses on the undergraduate population at all institutions with undergraduates). For specific information regarding how this classification is calculated, please see the Undergraduate Instructional Program Methodology.

The Undergraduate Instructional Program Classification is based on three pieces of information: the level of undergraduate degrees awarded (associate’s or bachelor’s), the proportion of bachelor’s degree majors in the arts and sciences and in professional fields, and the extent to which an institution awards graduate degrees in the same fields in which it awards undergraduate degrees. All categories in this classification are determined using degree conferral data from the update year (2008-2009).

The distinction between arts and sciences and professional undergraduate majors is one that has been made in the Classification since 1987 (but only for undergraduate colleges), and researchers and others in the higher education community have also made similar distinctions. We are extending and elaborating the previous analysis by (1) applying it to almost all baccalaureate-level institutions, (2) making finer distinctions along the arts & sciences – professions continuum, and (3) recognizing a “middle ground” where the two domains exist in relative balance with respect to graduating students’ major concentrations.

A high concentration of majors in the arts and sciences is not the same as a liberal arts education, and we do not view any particular location on this continuum as the special province of liberal education. Examples of high-quality liberal education exist across the spectrum.

Some institutions enroll no graduate students. Others may have graduate programs that operate relatively independently of the undergraduate program (such as a law school). Still others offer graduate education in most or all fields where they have undergraduate programs, and, of course, some institutions fall between these extremes. By examining the number of undergraduate fields in which we also see graduate degrees (as determined by overlap in the four-digit Department of Education CIP* codes under which baccalaureate and graduate degrees are recorded), we can locate institutions along this continuum of undergraduate-graduate “coexistence.” Departments that teach only undergraduates can differ in many ways from those that also train graduate students. Examples of such differences include faculty activities and instructional resources.

It is important to emphasize that we do not view these continua (arts & sciences – professions or graduate coexistence) as signifying gradations in value or quality.

The categories are as follows:

Assoc: Associate’s.
These institutions awarded associate’s degrees but no bachelor’s degrees.

Assoc–Dom: Associate’s Dominant.
These institutions awarded both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, but the majority of degrees awarded were at the associate’s level.

A&S-F/NGC: Arts & sciences focus, no graduate coexistence.
At least 80 percent of bachelor’s degree majors were in the arts and sciences, and no graduate degrees were awarded in fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

A&S-F/SGC: Arts & sciences focus, some graduate coexistence.
At least 80 percent of bachelor’s degree majors were in the arts and sciences, and graduate degrees were observed in up to half of the fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

A&S-F/HGC: Arts & sciences focus, high graduate coexistence.
At least 80 percent of bachelor’s degree majors were in the arts and sciences, and graduate degrees were observed in at least half of the fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

A&S+Prof/NGC: Arts & sciences plus professions, no graduate coexistence.
60–79 percent of bachelor’s degree majors were in the arts and sciences, and no graduate degrees were awarded in fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

A&S+Prof/SGC: Arts & sciences plus professions, some graduate coexistence.
60–79 percent of bachelor’s degree majors were in the arts and sciences, and graduate degrees were observed in up to half of the fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

A&S+Prof/HGC: Arts & sciences plus professions, high graduate coexistence.
60–79 percent of bachelor’s degree majors were in the arts and sciences, and graduate degrees were observed in at least half of the fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

Bal/NGC: Balanced arts & sciences/professions, no graduate coexistence.
Bachelor’s degrees awarded were relatively balanced between arts and sciences and professional fields (41–59 percent in each), and no graduate degrees were awarded in fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

Bal/SGC: Balanced arts & sciences/professions, some graduate coexistence.
Bachelor’s degree majors were relatively balanced between arts and sciences and professional fields (41–59 percent in each), and graduate degrees were observed in up to half of the fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

Bal/HGC: Balanced arts & sciences/professions, high graduate coexistence.
Bachelor’s degree majors were relatively balanced between arts and sciences and professional fields (41–59 percent in each), and graduate degrees were observed in at least half of the fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

Prof+A&S/NGC: Professions plus arts & sciences, no graduate coexistence.
According to the degree data, 60–79 percent of bachelor’s degree majors were in professional fields (such as business, education, engineering, health, and social work), and no graduate degrees were awarded in fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

Prof+A&S/SGC: Professions plus arts & sciences, some graduate coexistence.
60–79 percent of bachelor’s degree majors were in professional fields, and graduate degrees were observed in up to half of the fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

Prof+A&S/HGC: Professions plus arts & sciences, high graduate coexistence.
60–79 percent of bachelor’s degree majors were in professional fields, and graduate degrees were observed in at least half of the fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

Prof–F/NGC: Professions focus, no graduate coexistence.
At least 80 percent of bachelor’s degree majors were in professional fields (such as business, education, engineering, health, and social work), and no graduate degrees were awarded in fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

Prof–F/SGC: Professions focus, some graduate coexistence.
At least 80 percent of bachelor’s degree majors were in professional fields, and graduate degrees were observed in up to half of the fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.

Prof–F/HGC: Professions focus, high graduate coexistence.
At least 80 percent of bachelor’s degree majors were in professional fields, and graduate degrees were observed in at least half of the fields corresponding to undergraduate majors.


Classifications are time-specific snapshots of institutional attributes and behavior based on data from 2008 and 2010. Institutions might be classified differently using a different time frame.

* CIP = Classification of Instructional Program

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