What are Elective Classifications?

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the American Council on Education (ACE) are pleased to announce their collaboration on the next incarnation of the Carnegie Classifications. For the first time, the Universal and Elective Classifications will be brought together in a single organizational home at ACE. The two organizations will also work together to develop new and refined versions of the Classifications to better reflect the public purpose, mission, focus, and impact of higher education.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching sponsors Elective Classifications for those institutions that have made extraordinary commitments to their public purpose. The Elective Classifications are managed on behalf of the Carnegie Foundation by an Elective Classification Central Office. In addition to the Elective Classifications, the Carnegie Foundation also provides its all-inclusive Carnegie Basic Classification based on secondary analysis of existing national data. Information on the Carnegie Basic Classifications can be found here.

Institutions apply to be recognized by the Carnegie Foundation through a particular Elective Classification theme and make extraordinary commitments to that theme. Elective Classifications are not awards. They are evidence-based documentation of institutional policy and practices focusing on areas such as institutional culture and mission, curricular and co-curricular programming, continuous improvement activities, and the recruitment and reward of faculty, staff, and students.  

To become a Classified institution requires the investment of substantial effort by participating institutions to provide evidence of the commitment to a special purpose, demonstrated with precision across the breadth of the institution. These Classifications are an institutional recognition given to an individual  campus and as such requires that the self-study process consider and document many aspects of the institutional life of a campus. Classification is thus given to successful campuses, not programs, centers, or systems of campuses. See Policy for Multi-Campus Institutions for additional guidance.


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