Initiative to Update Carnegie Classifications – ACE & Carnegie Foundation

Last Updated: 04/07/2024

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In February 2022, the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (Carnegie Foundation) announced their partnership to create the next version of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

In November 2022, they announced several modernization changes coming to the Carnegie Classifications, a framework that has been used since 1973 to categorize American colleges and universities within classification types. The aim of the modernization initiative is to better group and organize like institutions to more accurately reflect the broad scope of their work with students, communities, and the broader public purposes of higher education.

The 2025 Carnegie Classifications framework will be released in early 2025, with the following anticipated changes:

  • Framework for a new Social and Economic Mobility Classification. The new Social and Economic Mobility Classification will group institutions by looking at a variety of relevant student characteristics and student outcomes.
  • Revise the Basic Classification, which generally places all U.S. colleges and universities into groups based on the highest degree awarded, to multi-dimensional groupings of institutions that go beyond the current single label. The updated categories will more accurately describe the multifaceted nature of today’s colleges and universities and capture additional aspects of institutions’ missions. In the future, institutions will receive a classification based on multiple labels to help group institutions by more characteristics, such as size, location, and the types of academic programs it offers, in addition to a more robust degree and certificate profile.
  • Revise how research is recognized:
    • The methodology that determines whether an institution is classified as R1 or R2. The current sliding scale has created competition among institutions; the new threshold will use a clear threshold to define the highest research designation: $50 million in total research spending and 70 research doctorates. Any institution that meets the threshold will be classified as R1: Very High Research Spending and Doctorate Production. The R2 threshold, with that classification now called “High Research Spending and Doctorate Production,” will not change from the current level of $5 million in research spending and 20 research doctorates.
    • Recognizing research outside of doctoral institutions. There will be a new designation known as “Research Colleges and Universities” to identify and recognize research happening at colleges and universities that do not offer many or any doctoral degrees.  Any institution that spends at least $2.5 million on research will be included in this category, provided they are not in the R1 or R2 classifications.

See Also

Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education® | Learn & Work Ecosystem Library (


  • ACE is a membership organization of more than 1600 colleges and universities, related associations, other organizations that mobilize the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice.
  • Since 1906, the Carnegie Foundation has focused on driving transformational change in the education sector.


Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education® | Learn & Work Ecosystem Library (

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