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2021 Carnegie Classifications of Higher Education Institutions released

January 06, 2022
By: Emily Chesser

In January, the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education released an updated 2021 classification list for universities. In this update, nine more universities have achieved the “Doctoral/Very High Research Activity” or “R1” category, the highest possible rank among research universities. Six additional universities were also added to the list following a six-week review period. To achieve the “R1” classification, a university must meet the following requirements: award at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees in the update year; spend at least $5 million in total research (as reported through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Higher Education Research & Development Survey (HERD)); and, score high in a Research Activity Index calculation.

The Carnegie Classification list is updated every three years and provides a framework for administrators, policymakers, and researchers and impacts decisions on grant-making and federal and state funding for institutions. Overall, about 3,900 institutions were recognized in the 2021 classifications, down from 4,300 in 2018 and 4,600 in 2015. According to a press release from Indiana University — the current producer of the classification list — this appears to result from compressions in the higher education sector from mergers and closures.

More prominent research universities, like those classified as “R1” institutions, seem to be exempt from this compression. These “R1” institutions are the only division of the sector to show growth — by about 10 percent — in the number of classified institutions. 

The 15 additional universities that met the requirements and received their official “R1” classification status at the end of January, following six weeks of public review, are:

  • Baylor University
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Kent State University
  • North Dakota State University
  • Ohio University
  • Old Dominion University
  • The University of Alabama at Huntsville
  • University of Denver
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  • The University of Maine
  • The University of Maryland-Baltimore County
  • University of Memphis
  • The University of Montana
  • Utah State University
  • University of Texas at San Antonio

Note: this story was updated Feb. 7 to reflect the final status.

higher ed