Classification Description

Undergraduate Profile Classification


The Undergraduate Profile Classification describes the undergraduate population with respect to three characteristics: the proportion of undergraduate students who attend part- or full-time; achievement characteristics of first-year, first-time students; and the proportion of entering students who transfer in from another institution. Each of these captures important differences in the nature of the undergraduate population. They do not imply differences in the quality of undergraduate education, but they have implications for how an institution serves its students. Please see the Undergraduate Profile Methodology for more detail regarding how this classification was calculated.

Some institutions serve a primarily full-time student population, while others serve large numbers of students who attend part-time due to substantial work and family commitments outside school. These differences have implications for the scheduling of classes, student services, extracurricular activities, time to degree, and other factors. Part-time students also tend to be older than full-time students, and older students bring more life experience and maturity into the classroom, often accompanied by a greater zeal for learning compared with those who have not spent any appreciable time away from formal education. Older students also generally face special challenges related to the competing obligations of school, work, and family.

Entrance examination scores describe—with limitations—the academic preparation of entering first-year students, which in turn corresponds to selectivity of undergraduate admissions. Although they should not be used as a gauge of institutional quality, admissions test scores and selectivity are widely used by institutions, academic researchers, and others in determining the comparability of colleges and universities. For all the criticisms of standardized tests, they provide the only comparable, widely available metric for students’ prior academic preparation and achievement.

A measure of transfer origin identifies institutions where many undergraduates enter as first-year students and progress to graduation, as compared with those where an appreciable number of students begin their college careers elsewhere. Serving larger numbers of transfer students has a number of implications, such as the planning and assessment of general education, student advising, the structure of majors, and so on. At schools admitting large numbers of transfer students, test score data based on the first-time first-year population may not adequately describe the undergraduate population as a whole.

For some institutions, analysis of aggregate student enrollments in the Undergraduate Profile Classification can conceal the fact that two distinct programs and student populations are included. These institutions offer relatively distinct undergraduate programs—one serves a student body consisting of recent high school graduates who typically attend full-time and who reside on or close to campus (often living with other students), while the other program focuses on degree completion for returning students. Students in degree completion programs typically have families and full-time jobs, and they may attend part-time and commute to school or enroll online. For such institutions, the undergraduate profile classification may not accurately characterize either program.

The categories are as follows:


PT2: Higher part-time two-year
Fall enrollment data show at least 60 percent of undergraduates enrolled part-time at these associate’s degree granting institutions.

Mix2: Mixed part/full-time two-year
Fall enrollment data show 40–59 percent of undergraduates enrolled part-time at these associate’s degree granting institutions.

MFT2: Medium full-time two-year
Fall enrollment data show 10–39 percent of undergraduates enrolled part-time at these associate’s degree granting institutions.

FT2: Higher full-time two-year
Fall enrollment data show less than 10 percent of undergraduates enrolled part-time at these associate’s degree granting institutions.

PT4: Higher part-time four-year
Fall enrollment data show at least 40 percent of undergraduates enrolled part-time at these bachelor’s degree granting institutions.

MFT4/I: Medium full-time four-year, inclusive
Fall enrollment data show 60–79 percent of undergraduates enrolled full-time at these bachelor’s degree granting institutions. These institutions either did not report test score data or the scores indicate that they extend educational opportunity to a wide range of students with respect to academic preparation and achievement.

MFT4/S/LTI: Medium full-time four-year, selective, lower transfer-in
Fall enrollment data show 60–79 percent of undergraduates enrolled full-time at these bachelor’s degree granting institutions. Test score data for first-year students indicate that these institutions are selective in admissions (our analysis of first-year students’ test scores places most of these institutions in roughly the middle two-fifths of baccalaureate institutions). Fewer than 20 percent of entering undergraduates are transfer students.

MFT4/S/HTI: Medium full-time four-year, selective, higher transfer-in
Fall enrollment data show 60–79 percent of undergraduates enrolled full-time at these bachelor’s degree granting institutions. Test score data for first-year students indicate that these institutions are selective in admissions (our analysis of first-year students’ test scores places most of these institutions in roughly the middle two-fifths of baccalaureate institutions). At least 20 percent of entering undergraduates are transfer students.

FT4/I: Full-time four-year, inclusive
Fall enrollment data show at least 80 percent of undergraduates enrolled full-time at these bachelor’s degree granting institutions. These institutions either did not report test score data or the scores indicate that they extend educational opportunity to a wide range of students with respect to academic preparation and achievement.

FT4/S/LTI: Full-time four-year, selective, lower transfer-in
Fall enrollment data show at least 80 percent of undergraduates enrolled full-time at these bachelor’s degree granting institutions. Test score data for first-year students indicate that these institutions are selective in admissions (our analysis of first-year students’ test scores places these institutions in roughly the middle two-fifths of baccalaureate institutions). Fewer than 20 percent of entering undergraduates are transfer students.

FT4/S/HTI: Full-time four-year, selective, higher transfer-in
Fall enrollment data show at least 80 percent of undergraduates enrolled full-time at these bachelor’s degree granting institutions. Test score data for first-year students indicate that these institutions are selective in admissions (our analysis of first-year students’ test scores places these institutions in roughly the middle two-fifths of baccalaureate institutions). At least 20 percent of entering undergraduates are transfer students.

FT4/MS/LTI: Full-time four-year, more selective, lower transfer-in
Fall enrollment data show at least 80 percent of undergraduates enrolled full-time at these bachelor’s degree granting institutions. Test score data for first-year students indicate that these institutions are more selective in admissions (our analysis of first-year students’ test scores places these institutions in roughly the top fifth of baccalaureate institutions). Fewer than 20 percent of entering undergraduates are transfer students.

FT4/MS/HTI: Full-time four-year, more selective, higher transfer-in
Fall enrollment data show at least 80 percent of undergraduates enrolled full-time at these bachelor’s degree granting institutions. Test score data for first-year students indicate that these institutions are more selective in admissions (our analysis of first-year students’ test scores places these institutions in roughly the top fifth of baccalaureate institutions). At least 20 percent of entering undergraduates are transfer students.

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.

News & Announcements

Updated Carnegie Classifications Show Increase in For-Profits, Change in Traditional Landscape. More

Carnegie Selects Colleges and Universities for 2010 Community Engagement Classification More

Classifications FAQs

Answers to questions you may have about the Carnegie Classifications. More

Reading Room

Rethinking and Reframing the Carnegie Classification
Alexander C. McCormick and Chun-Mei Zhao

Carnegie's Community-Engagement Classification: Intentions and Insights (PDF)
Amy Driscoll

Attaining Carnegie's Community-Engagement Classification (PDF)
James J. Zuiches and the NC State Community Engagement Task Force
from Change (January/February 2008)

Carnegie Classifications Mailing List

emailJoin our Mailing List
Sign up for our enewsletters to stay connected and informed about our work.