Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP)


STEM is an acronym for the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There is NOT a single, unified definition of STEM. Every agency and organization defines it differently. Some agencies use the CIP to define STEM, and those CIP-to-STEM lists vary from agency to agency (and sometimes even within an agency). Therefore, a CIP code will NOT be assigned to a course or program solely because that CIP code is designated as "STEM" by one agency.

Meaning of the CIP

The Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) is a taxonomy of academic disciplines at institutions of higher education in the United States. This taxonomy allows agencies to understand what academic programs institutions offer no matter the varied ways each institution titles their programs.

The CIP was developed in 1980 by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U. S. Department of Education. Since then, it has been reviewed and updated every 10 years. The 2020 edition is the current revision of the taxonomy. The full CIP database can be found online.

The CIP is used in a variety of education information surveys and databases at the federal and state levels. The CIP is used by NCES in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to report on degree completions from all U.S. colleges and universities. Other federal agencies that use the CIP include the National Science Foundation, the Department of Commerce (Bureau of the Census), the Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and the Department of Homeland Security (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

The CIP also is used by state agencies, national associations, academic institutions and employment counseling services for collecting, reporting and analyzing instructional program data. The Ohio Department of Higher Education has adopted the CIP for determining course subsidy for public institutions.

Given this wide range of uses, it is important that an assigned CIP code reflect the best overall description of a program or course, and not be tailored to any specific use or application.

Organization of the CIP

The programs within the CIP are organized on three levels:

  1. Two-digit series that indicate a board subject area. Example: 09 "Communication, Journalism and Related Programs."
  2. Four-digit series, of which the last two numbers represent an intermediate aggregation with that broad subject. Example: 09.09 "Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication."
  3. Six-digit codes, of which the final two numbers indicate the specific subject matter of the individual program or course. Example: 09.0901 "Organizational Communication, General."

Another example of a CIP:

  • (2 digits) 16. Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics. Instructional programs that focus on foreign languages and literatures, the humanistic and scientific study of linguistics, and the provision of professional interpretation and translation services.
    • (4 digits) 16.09 Romance Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics. Instructional content for this group of programs is defined in codes 16.0900 - 16.0999.
      • (6 digits) 16.0905 Spanish Language and Literature. A program that focuses on the Spanish language and related dialects. Includes instruction in philology; Modern Castillan; Latin American and regional Spanish dialects; and applications in business, science/technology, and other settings.

Assignment of the CIP

CIP codes at Kent State University are assigned by Curriculum Services, consistent with guidance from NCES.

  • CIP codes are assigned to majors, certificate programs and courses. Degrees, minors and concentrations are not assigned CIP codes (concentrations are considered a subset of their major and are reported under the major CIP code). A major offered under multiple degrees will have the same CIP code.
  • Each major, certificate and course is assigned the single CIP code that best describes the content of the program or course. When a program or course has characteristics of more than one CIP classification, Curriculum Services will work with the academic unit to determine the appropriate CIP code.
  • CIP codes are assigned to programs and courses, not individuals. All students enrolled in or graduated with a major or certificate are identified by the same CIP code, regardless of their individual course selections, concentration, specialization or thesis/dissertation topic.