The Growth of For-profits

A new iteration of "Carnegie Classifications" arrives today — reflecting many of the ways higher education is changing.

Of the 483 institutions classified for the first time (including a handful that moved categories), 77 percent are for-profit institutions, compared to only 4 percent that are public and 19 percent that are independent nonprofit institutions. Other changes in the classifications reflect the growth of pre-professional and career-oriented programs in all sectors of higher education and an increase in the number of community colleges (also a sector with many job-related programs) offering four-year degrees. The classifications suggest shrinkage for liberal arts-focused institutions.

The Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education are produced by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and are somewhat unusual in that they are influential, but also are widely misunderstood as rankings or reflecting long-since-replaced methodologies. Many people still talk about institutions that aspire to be "Research I" institutions, referring to a Carnegie category that hasn’t been used in more than a decade. The new classifications follow largely the same methodology as the 2005 version (the most recent) and aim to enable researchers, granting agencies and foundations to group together similar institutions.

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