The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education™


About Carnegie Classification™


The Carnegie Classification™ has been the leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for the past four decades. Starting in 1970, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed a classification of colleges and universities to support its program of research and policy analysis. Derived from empirical data on colleges and universities, the Carnegie Classification was originally published in 1973, and subsequently updated in 1976, 1987, 1994, 2000, 2005, and 2010 to reflect changes among colleges and universities. This framework has been widely used in the study of higher education, both as a way to represent and control for institutional differences, and also in the design of research studies to ensure adequate representation of sampled institutions, students, or faculty.

To ensure continuity of the classification framework and to allow comparison across years, the 2010 Classification update retains the same structure of six parallel classifications, initially adopted in 2005. They are as follows: Basic Classification (the traditional Carnegie Classification Framework), Undergraduate and Graduate Instructional Program classifications, Enrollment Profile and Undergraduate Profile classifications, and Size & Setting classification. These classifications provide different lenses through which to view U.S. colleges and universities, offering researchers greater analytic flexibility.

These classifications were updated using the most recent national data available as of 2010, and collectively they depict the most current landscape of U.S. colleges and universities.

In addition to the all-inclusive classifications, the Carnegie Foundation also completed another round of its Elective Classification on Community Engagement. Unlike the all-inclusive classifications based on secondary analysis of existing national data, elective classifications rely on voluntary participation by institutions, permitting analysis of attributes that are not available in the national data.

Using this Site


The menus above provide access to extensive documentation as well as tools for looking up specific institutions, listing all institutions in a particular classification category, aggregating categories within a classification, and examining points of intersection across two or more classifications. More...

Related Articles


"Hidden In Plain View," Inside Higher Ed, May 10, 2007
(subject: comparison groups in U.S. News college rankings).
Read article

"Rethinking and Reframing the Carnegie Classification," Change, September-October 2005
Read article (PDF)

News & Announcements

IU research center to house Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education More

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)

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