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What is SU’s new Carnegie Classification and why does it matter?

March 13, 2019

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Update - May 20, 2019: Read more at "New Carnegie Classification Recognizes Seattle U's National Stature."

SU has a new Carnegie Classification. Read on for what this all means and why it's significant.

What is the Carnegie Classification?

As described on its website, the Carnegie Foundation Basic Classification of Institutions of Higher Education is a framework “for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education.” Currently there are 33 different categories, running the gamut from institutions that are highly active in research (R1), to associate’s colleges, to special focus four-year schools, to tribal colleges, just to name a few.

What is Seattle University’s classification?

Funny you should ask. For the past several years, SU has fallen into the “Master’s Colleges and Universities: Larger Programs” category. However Carnegie created a new category in 2018, “Doctoral/Professional University,” which includes institutions that confer 30 or more “professional practice” doctoral degrees per year across two or more programs, while conferring fewer than 20 research/scholarship doctorates. Professional practice doctorates include juris doctorates, or JDs as well as our DNP, DMin and EDD degrees in law, nursing, theology and ministry and education, respectively. When you consider that SU has multiple doctoral programs and confers more than 30 doctoral degrees—approximately 220 JDs alone were granted by the law school, according to the most recent data—this new “Doctoral/Professional University” category better reflects our commitment to supporting professional formation at the highest academic levels.

Why does this matter?

Well, there are several reasons, but perhaps the most significant is that Carnegie Classifications are utilized by many college searches and guides, such as U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings.

Will U.S. News be changing the way they categorize institutions in light of Carnegie’s new classification?

The publication is currently deliberating on how, if at all, its rankings might change in light of the newly added category. A decision is expected in April.

“There are several possible responses,” says Bob Duniway, associate vice president for institutional effectiveness, who has been in touch with Robert Morse, chief data strategist for U.S. News. “They may move all institutions currently classified as regional universities (including SU) but now in the new classification to the national universities rankings. They may decide to leave the existing regional ranking lists in place. They could create a new national ranking for Doctoral/Professional universities. They could do some more complicated reclassification to determine which institutions are moved to the national universities ranking and which remain on the regional lists.”

You can read more about the new classification at Carnegie.