Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education®

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education is the nation’s leading framework for categorizing diverse U.S. higher education institutions.

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About the Carnegie Classification®

The Carnegie Classification® is the leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education. In 1970, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education began developing a classification of colleges and universities to support its program of research and policy analysis. The framework was first published in 1973 and is now updated every 3 years to reflect changes among colleges and universities.

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246 An icon of two hands praying

Institutions are classified as Special Focus Four-Year: Faith-Related Institutions


Institutions hold the Community Engagement Classification


Small, highly residential institutions primarily offer baccalaureate arts & science degrees

Elective Classifications

The Carnegie Elective Classifications are recognitions earned by institutions that have made extraordinary commitments to their public purpose. Institutions apply for recognition from the Carnegie Foundation through a particular Elective Classification theme and make extraordinary commitments to that theme. There are currently 2 Elective Classifications for which institutions can apply: the Elective Classification for Community Engagement and the Elective Classification for Leadership for Public Purpose.

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Community Engagement Application

View application resources and requirements.

September 21, 2023

Reflections on a Year Studying Carnegie’s Basic Classification and a Look Ahead

By Mushtaq Gunja and Sara Gast As the work continues to modernize and reimagine the Carnegie Classifications, we want to share insights we have gained as we look toward the release by early 2025 of a new set of classifications that will include a new research classification methodology. The Carnegie Classifications were created to be a tool to organize the diverse ...

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About the Site

The Carnegie Classification site provides an Institution Search tool that allows users to search and filter institutions based on one or more Carnegie Classifications. You can also find a wealth of knowledge and resources on the Carnegie Classifications at the links below.


Find answers to the most common Carnegie Classification questions.


Access articles and downloads.


Read about the history of Carnegie Classifications.