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Office of the Provost | Communications

February 10, 2016

TO: American University Community
FROM: Scott A. Bass, Provost
SUBJECT: Carnegie Reclassification of American University

We are pleased to inform the university community that AU has been reclassified by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

Among doctoral granting institutions, there are three categories. AU has moved from what was the lowest level of classification for doctoral institutions, formerly called “Doctoral Research University”, to the middle tier, or "Doctoral: Higher Research Activity." The reclassification is a result of strategic decisions made by the Board of Trustees in order to expand AU’s array of doctoral programs to include the Humanities/Professional (Communications) and the Natural Sciences (Behavioral, Cognitive, and Neuroscience). It is also a result of increased productivity with regard to externally funded research. AU is now in a more appropriate grouping with universities like Dartmouth College, College of William and Mary, and University of Vermont.

This classification system is the universal standard by which universities are organized for subsequent analyses by government and other organizations. Copied below is text from the Carnegie Classification website that briefly describes the system:

    The Carnegie ClassificationTM has been the leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for the past four and a half decades. Starting in 1970, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed a classification of colleges and universities to support its program of research and policy analysis. Derived from empirical data on colleges and universities, the Carnegie Classification was originally published in 1973, and subsequently updated in 1976, 1987, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015 to reflect changes among colleges and universities. This framework has been widely used in the study of higher education, both as a way to represent and control for institutional differences, and also in the design of research studies to ensure adequate representation of sampled institutions, students, or faculty.

As a community, we can take pride in our progress on this significant milestone.