How Carnegie Classification Updates Could Affect State Higher Education Policy

This is an excerpt by Mushtaq Gunja and Sara Gast of the Carnegie Classifications on Higher Education. For the full article, visit

Since 1973, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education has served as the predominant framework to classify American colleges and universities. It was originally created for researchers as a way of organizing the higher education sector, but since the release over 50 years ago, the classifications have informed many policies, reporting structures and benchmarking tools. These policies, structures and tools will likely be affected by changes to the classifications starting in 2025. 

Since these classifications have influence on institutional behavior and policies that govern higher education, the American Council on Education and the Carnegie Foundation have engaged institutional leaders, policymakers, organization leaders, reporters and other key stakeholders who interact with the classifications to consider updates over the past two years. In these conversations, we heard countless examples of how the classifications are baked into state and federal policy.