The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education is widely used in higher education research to characterize and control for differences in academic institutions.
The 2010 classification update retains the same structure initially adopted in 2005 and illustrates the most current landscape of U.S. colleges and universities. Compared with the 2005 update, there are 483 newly classified institutions in the 2010 classifications (from a universe of 4,633). More than three-quarters of the new institutions (77%) are from the private for-profit sector, 19% from the private nonprofit sector, and 4% from the public institution sector.
Academic institutions are categorized primarily on the basis of highest degree conferred, level of degree production, and research activity.* In this report, several categories have been aggregated for statistical purposes. The characteristics of those aggregated groups are as follows:
Back to top
Increases in the number of students seeking an affordable college education and competing demands on state government budgets have affected the resources available for state-funded higher education. Because funding for major state research universities has been a particular focus of concern, this sidebar examines trends in state support for these institutions between 2002 and 2010.4 Data cover 101 public research universities with broad educational missions (i.e., excluding free-standing medical and engineering schools when possible). These institutions are either the leading recipient of academic R&D funding in their state or among the nation's top 100 recipients of academic R&D funding to public universities.
According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics and Illinois State University's Center for the Study of Education Policy (CSEP), total state funding in current dollars for these 101 universities, including state appropriations and state operating grants and contracts, grew during the period of 2002 through 2010 from $23.8 billion in 2002 to $25.8 billion in 2010.5 Funding fluctuated over this period, dipping in the early years and then rising until 2008 when it began to fall sharply. In constant dollars, this represented a decline of 10% (figure
In constant dollars, 72 of the 101 universities experienced an overall reduction in state appropriations. More than half of the universities, 54, had reductions of more than 10%. For 29 institutions, state appropriations in 2010 were between 90% and 110% of the 2002 level. The remaining 18 universities received increases of more than 10%.
Funding changes varied widely by institution and by state. For example, all of the nine research universities in California experienced reductions ranging from 17% to 35%. By contrast, the four State University of New York (SUNY) campuses received substantial increases ranging from 71% to 171%. In Texas, three universities had very different funding trends: the University of Texas at Dallas experienced a 19% increase, Texas A&M a 12% decrease, and the University of Texas at Austin had a 3% decrease. In Michigan, the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor experienced a 28% decrease and Michigan State University had a 21% decrease.
While the value of overall state funding declined nationally, enrollment was growing consistently. As a result, state funding per enrolled student dropped in constant dollars by 20%, going from $10,195 per student in 2002 to $8,157 per student in 2010 (figure
Preliminary data prepared by CSEP—available by state but not by university—suggest a continuing state funding decline. In particular, between 2009 and 2011, 35 of the 50 states reported reductions in state appropriations and other state support, ranging from less than 1% to more than 28%.
Additional indicators of state-level trends in the affordability of higher education, including state appropriations for operating expenses as a percentage of GDP and average undergraduate charges at public 4-year institutions, can be found in chapter 8.
Back to top
A sizeable gender gap in college enrollment emerged in the 1980s and has widened since. By 1980, women achieved parity with men, receiving half of all college degrees. By 1990, women received 54% of college degrees and by the end of the millennium, 58%. The latest update of the American Council on Education (ACE) publication Gender Equity in Higher Education (King 2010) reports that the gender gap in the United States has largely stabilized.
According to disaggregated data from ACE, the size of the gender gap varies with race, ethnicity, age, income, and the financial independence of students pursuing higher education. It is close to zero among affluent families with parents who pay for their children's higher education. It is much larger for blacks and Hispanics, for low income families, and for independent students who pay for their own education.
Several indicators point to the stabilization of the gender gap. First, the distribution of enrollment and undergraduate degrees by gender has remained consistent since around 2000. Second, the number of bachelor's degrees awarded to both men and women is on the rise. Third, for most racial/ethnic groups, the percentage of traditional-age, male undergraduates has been stable.
Hispanics are the exception. Despite a large increase in the number of degrees awarded to Hispanics of both genders in recent years, the bachelor's degree attainment rate for Hispanic males is the lowest of any major racial/ethnic group (10%) and has not changed much since the mid-1990s. This is due to immigration. Foreign-born Hispanics complete high school and college at much lower rates than their native-born peers, in particular male immigrants, who represent one out of every three Hispanic young adults.
Back to top
According to a 2010 report from the Commission on the Future of Graduate Education in the United States (Wendler et al. 2010), the main challenges facing graduate education and the U.S. educational system as a whole are as follows:
All of these changes indicate the need to reconsider how graduate students are financially supported and what kinds of additional resources they may need for success in graduate school. The changing demographics also may require a reconsideration of traditional time to degree expectations and career pathway opportunities.
Back to top
The National Research Council's A Data-Based Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs in the United States (NRC 2010), released in September 2010, is the latest attempt to measure the quality of U.S. doctoral education. The assessment sought to rely more heavily than past ratings on objective performance measures and to give less weight to faculty reputation. The study collected a wealth of data during the 2005–06 academic year, covering more than 5,000 programs in 62 fields at 212 universities.
Despite differences in the methodologies and the individual disciplines over time, the same universities—Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, University of California–Berkeley, MIT, and the California Institute of Technology—tend to have the top ranked departments (Jaschik 2010).
Not all observers agree that the latest ratings methodology is a clear improvement over past ratings. Major objections include (1) age of the data at the time of the release, (2) exclusion of books from the measure of faculty publication in some fields but not in others, and (3) disregard for the quality of the journals in which articles were published (Glenn 2010; Jaschik 2011).
Back to top
Ten years after the Bologna Declaration, the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) was launched and higher education reform in Europe had been extended to more than 45 participating countries. The Trends 2010 report, published by the European University Association (Sursock and Smidt 2010), analyzes the implementation of the Bologna Process and its impact on higher education based on questionnaire responses from 821 universities, 27 university associations, and site visits to 16 countries.
Some of the key findings indicate that—
Back to top
Although transnational higher education is not entirely new, the nature and scale of its global expansion are changing substantially (Naidoo 2009). Two growing trends are the establishment of branch campuses and collaborative programs such as joint/dual degrees.
According to research by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, between 2006 and 2009 the number of branch campuses increased by 43%, to 162 (Becker 2010). English-speaking countries dominate, led by U.S. institutions with 78 international branch campuses, followed by Australia (14), the United Kingdom (13), and France and India (11 each). The United States also led in campus growth between 2006 and 2009; American institutions sponsored 15 of the 49 branch campuses created during that time. The United Arab Emirates was the top host country, with 40 international branch campuses, two-thirds of which are located in Dubai International Academic City. China hosts 15 branch campuses, followed by Singapore and Qatar.
Branch campuses give foreign students the opportunity to earn a Western degree without leaving their home country. For the institution venturing into a new country, meeting enrollment and financial goals without diluting quality standards is often a challenge. Following the closures of several branch campuses, higher education institutions have become more aware of the long-term risks involved and more frequently look for sponsors or partners to share and reduce such risks.
Recent data on joint and dual degree programs are scarce. In these programs, students study at two or more institutions. After successfully completing the requirements, in dual degree programs they receive a separate diploma from each institution and in joint degree programs they receive a single diploma representing both institutions (CGS 2010). Two member surveys conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools in 2007 and 2008 show that, at the graduate level in the United States, dual degrees are more prevalent than joint degrees and that these collaborative programs are more common in universities with high international student enrollment. U.S. graduate schools are more likely to have established dual/joint degree programs with higher education institutions in Europe, with China and India in second place. The most common fields for dual degrees at the master's level are business, engineering, and the social sciences; at the doctoral level, they are engineering and physical sciences.
Back to top
National Science Foundation
| National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES)
| Previous Releases
| Contact Us
Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 Arlington, VA (NSB 12-01) | January 2012