According to the 2015 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, American University has moved up to “Doctoral: Higher Research Activity” from “Doctoral: Moderate Research Activity.”
This places AU in the company of institutions such as Dartmouth College and the College of William and Mary.
AU’s move up the Carnegie Classification ladder is the result of strategic decisions at AU during the past several years to expand the number of doctoral programs, as well as the increase in externally-funded research productivity. These are part of AU’s Strategic Plan point number 4: Engage the Great Ideas and Issues of Our Time through Research, Centers, and Institutes.
The Carnegie Classification system is the universal standard by which universities are organized for subsequent analyses by government and other organizations. The 2015 classification, which includes 4,664 institutions across the US, is the most recent. The previous classification was released in 2010.
The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education describes the classification system as follows on its website:
The Carnegie Classification™ 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.