Two of the most striking changes in higher education in the United States are reflected in the latest update of the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education™, released today by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of private, for-profit institutions and an increase in the number of institutions whose instructional programs focus on professional fields like business, health, education and law.
“We see more institutions that offer a small set of professional programs, at both undergraduate and graduate levels, that tend to be less selective and non-residential. To a large extent, this trend has been triggered by the growth of the private, for-profit sector,” said Chun-Mei Zhao, who directs Carnegie’s Classifications. “This suggests that the higher education landscape is shifting further away from the traditional model of the liberal arts college.”
Compared to 2005, when the Classifications were last updated, there are 483 newly classified institutions in the 2010 Classifications (from a universe of 4,633). The majority of the new institutions—77 percent—are from the private for-profit sector. The growth in public institutions and private not-for-profit institutions has been minimal, accounting for only 4 percent and 19 percent of the newly classified institutions respectively.
Within the Undergraduate Instructional Program Classification, there has been a significant increase (115 institutions, a 17 percent increase from 2005) in the number of “Professional focus” and “Professions plus arts & sciences” institutions—institutions that awarded more than 60 percent of bachelor’s degree in professional fields. On the other hand, the number of institutions with more than 60 percent of bachelor’s degrees in arts and sciences declined (40 institutions, a 5 percent decrease from 2005).
Another significant change can be seen in the number of traditional associate’s colleges awarding more bachelor’s degrees. Compared to 2005, “Primarily Associates” colleges (institutions where bachelor's degrees account for fewer than 10 percent of undergraduate degrees) rose 49 percent from 109 to 162 institutions. At the same time, “Baccalaureate/Associate's Colleges” (institutions where bachelor's degrees represent at least 10 percent but less than half of undergraduate degrees) rose 23 percent, from 120 to 147 institutions.
The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, developed in 1970, was dramatically revised in 2005, when the single Basic Classification was replaced with a series of classifications to allow greater flexibility in identifying the commonalities and differences among colleges and universities.
The Classifications provide the framework in which institutional diversity in U.S. higher education is commonly described. It is now the leading taxonomy of all accredited colleges and universities in the United States, currently developed using nationally available data from the U.S. Office of Postsecondary Education, the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the National Science Foundation, and the College Board. The Carnegie Classifications™ have undergone multiple revisions, including changes in category names and definitions in 1976, 1987, 1994, 2000 and 2005, to reflect the shifting higher education universe. The 2010 update retains the same structure as the 2005 edition with few changes.
All accredited, degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States represented in the IPEDS system are eligible for inclusion in the Carnegie Classifications. Branch campuses that are separately identified in IPEDS are classified separately.
The goal of the current revision remains the same as Carnegie Commission Chairman Clark Kerr’s when he and his colleagues developed the 1970 Classification—to group institutions into meaningful, analytically manageable categories in order to allow researchers to make reasonable comparisons among similar institutions. The Carnegie Classifications are not rankings and they do not imply quality differences among categories.
A detailed FAQ on the Classifications may be found here: http://classifications.carnegiefoundation.org/resources/faqs.php 
The Classifications website, where all institutions and Classifications are included, can be found here: http://classifications.carnegiefoundation.org/