IU research Center to House Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education

October 8, 2014

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has transferred responsibility for the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education to Indiana University Bloomington’s Center for Postsecondary Research. The Classification will continue to retain the Carnegie name after the Center for Postsecondary Research takes over responsibility on Jan. 1.

As a part of the move, the Lumina Foundation is awarding $500,000 to CPR to update and enhance the Carnegie Classification to reflect and accommodate an evolving higher education landscape. The award is part of Lumina’s Degree Qualifications Profile Initiative, unveiled today (Oct. 8) during the event “The Degree Qualifications Profile and Tuning: Call for Action, Conversation about Next Steps” held in Indianapolis.

Starting in 1970, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed the Classification of colleges and universities to support its program of research and policy analysis. It is widely considered the leading framework for recognizing and describing the diverse types of institutions in U.S. higher educationover the past four decades.

Carnegie has a long tradition of creating institutions, processes, and products and, when they are of benefit to teaching and learning, providing them to the field for future stewardship and use. It is in this tradition that Carnegie came to the decision that it was time to hand over the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education to the education community.

“We selected CPR because its mission aligns with Carnegie’s efforts to promote student success through institutional effectiveness,” said Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk. “Both organizations are in agreement that gathering and using data is essential for sound decision making and institutional improvement. Both organizations are involved in work related to student access, assessment, learning, and persistence.”

Bryk said that CPR is especially well suited to take over the administration of the Classification system because the organization has faculty and research staff with expertise working with national higher education data, and several staff members have strong qualifications to contribute to, even advance the work. Carnegie will have a representative on CPR’s Classification advisory board and provide full support during the transfer of the Classification.

The Center for Postsecondary Research is a research center of the Indiana University School of Education. It promotes student success and institutional effectiveness through research and service to postsecondary institutions and related agencies. Center personnel assist institutions and agencies in gathering and using data for decision making and institutional improvement. In addition to its work with initiatives related to student access, assessment, learning, and persistence, CPR focuses on the policies and practices that promote student success, educational effectiveness, and institutional development. The Center has long been involved in global higher education research initiatives. It houses the National Survey of Student Engagement and has recently been involved in an ongoing partnership with the National Student Clearinghouse.

“At IU, we’ll immediately begin work at the first of the year on transferring the web site for the Carnegie Classification to our staff who will begin updating it throughout next year,” said Vic Borden, professor of higher education and student affairs at the IU School of Education and the director of the project for CPR. “We will also begin collaborating with colleagues in academia and education policy to begin exploring ways the Classification can best reflect a 21st century postsecondary universe. In this time of expanding opportunities and ways in which to earn a degree, this is a very important step to ensure our understanding of institutions and the students they serve best meets our federal, state, and local policies.”

To that end, Borden said while the initial review of the Classification will focus on U.S. degree-granting postsecondary institutions, consideration of non-degree credentials will be part of the revision. He also said that the project will reach out to international higher education systems to discern how each is handling similar issues and understand how the U.S. can better align with other parts of the world, particularly the European Union, East Asia, and Australia and Southeast Asia.

The Carnegie Classification has undergone an update every five years since 2000, and a preliminary update will be complete late next year. The project calls for a substantial revision and update of the Classification by the end of 2018.


The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, which is a voluntary classification in that institutions apply to be included, that is housed at the New England Resource Center for Higher Education, will continue to be administered by that organization.

The transfer of the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education will not affect the announcement of institutions selected for the Community Engagement Classification in 2015.


The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is committed to developing networks of ideas, individuals and institutions to advance teaching and learning. It joins together scholars, practitioners and designers in new ways to solve problems of educational practice. Toward this end, the foundation works to integrate the discipline of improvement science into education with the goal of building the field’s capacity to improve.