Carnegie Elective Classifications

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching sponsors Elective Classifications for those institutions that have made extraordinary commitments to their public purpose.  Institutions that choose to focus their approach to public purpose through a particular elective classification theme and make extraordinary commitments to that theme – as evidenced in their institutional culture and mission, in their curricular and co-curricular programming, in their continuous improvement, and in their recruitment and reward of faculty, staff, and students – these institutions that apply for the elective classifications are recognized by the Foundation through the classification process. 

All elective classifications involve data collection and documentation of important aspects of institutional mission, identity, programs, and people. 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. Classification is an institutional recognition given to a single specific campus and as such requires that the self-study process consider and document many aspects of the institutional life of a campus.  Classification is then given to successful campuses, not programs, centers, or systems of campuses. (See Policy of Multi-Campus Institutions for additional guidance).

Elective Classifications are not awards. They are an evidence-based documentation of institutional practice to be used in a process of self-assessment and quality improvement. In this way, it is similar to an accreditation process of self-study. Once submitted, a campus’s application is reviewed by a National Review Panel to determine whether the campus qualifies for recognition as a community engaged campus.

The Elective Classifications are managed on behalf of the Carnegie Foundation by the Elective Classification Central Office within the Commission on Public Purpose in Higher Education.  In addition to the Elective Classifications, the Carnegie Foundation also provides its all-inclusive classifications based on secondary analysis of existing national data. Information on the all-inclusive classifications can be found online.

Community Engagement Classification (U.S.)

The 2024 Cycle of the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement will open on January 27, 2022.

We invite you to learn more about the Community Engagement Elective Classification and the 2024 Cycle Timeline.