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Education Statistics Quarterly
Vol 4, Issue 2, Topic: Methodology
Classification of Instructional Programs: 2000 Edition
This article was originally published as the Introduction to the Handbook of the same name.

The Classification of Instructional Programs: 2000 Edition (CIP:2000) is the third revision of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) taxonomy of instructional programs. Previous revisions of the CIP were published in 1985 and 1990. Two drafts of the CIP:2000 were made available for public review in 2000 and revised as a result of that review process. The sections that follow delineate the methods, processes, and procedures used to develop the CIP:2000 and provide information on the CIP's structure, contents, and organization. They also provide a guide to identifying changes that have been made to the CIP taxonomy.

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Development of the CIP:2000: Process and Procedures

NCES engaged a wide range of CIP users and stakeholders in the development of the CIP:2000. Meetings and discussions were held with representatives of federal agencies, accrediting and professional associations, academic societies, institutional administrators, and other interested parties in an effort to develop mutually agreed-upon program classifications and descriptions. An extensive examination of government and private data resources on instructional programs was also undertaken. Postsecondary institutional catalogs and course listings were analyzed, as were commercial databases and published lists of approved programs. NCES also analyzed its own data files as well as those of other federal agencies, state agencies, and other organizations to identify programs for inclusion in the CIP. These databases included the Completions File of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS); the Postsecondary Transcript Data File of the National Longitudinal Study; databases sponsored by the National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee (NOICC); the National Science Foundation's Survey of Earned Doctorates; the Dictionary of Occupational Titles of the Department of Labor; the Standard Occupational Classification System of the Department of Commerce; and various databases and publications of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of the Census. A similarly extensive review process involving the Provincial Ministries of Education, education associations, and institutions of Canada was undertaken by Statistics Canada.

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Defining the CIP: Its Contents, Structure, Purposes, and Uses

The CIP is a taxonomic coding scheme of instructional programs. It is intended to facilitate the organization, collection, and reporting of program completions data using classifications that capture the majority of reportable program completion activity. The CIP titles and program descriptions are intended to be generic categories into which program completions data can be placed, not exact duplicates of specific major field of study titles used by individual institutions.

The CIP is not intended to be a regulatory device. CIP codes and their associated programs are standard statistical coding tools that reflect current practice, not a prescriptive list of officially recognized or permitted programs. Codes that have been added, deleted, or moved reflect variations in instructional program offerings and reported data that have occurred since the 1990 edition of the CIP was produced.

CIP codes, for the most part, are not intended to correspond exclusively to any specific degree or program level. In most cases, any given instructional program may be offered at various levels, and CIP codes are intended to capture all such data.

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Organization of the CIP:2000

The CIP:2000 is divided into six chapters and appendix A that contain information and codes that are distinguishable from each other. The chapters contain the following types of instructional programs:

Chapter I contains academic and occupationally specific instructional programs offered for academic credit at one or more postsecondary educational levels. These programs usually result in recognized completion points and awards such as degrees, diplomas, certificates, or some other formal award.1

Chapter II contains residency programs in various dental, medical, and veterinary specializations offered in teaching hospitals and similar locations that may lead to advanced professional certification if board approval is sought and obtained. These residency programs are in a separate chapter to preclude confusion with research degree programs with similar names in the clinical, biological, and agricultural sciences.

Chapter III contains technology education and industrial arts programs that are taught at high schools and other nonpostsecondary levels.

Chapter IV contains Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs that are offered for limited regular credit and that lead to professionally recognized completions, but that do not lead to academic awards or completions.

Chapter V contains personal improvement and leisure-time programs that are not typically offered for academic credit, but that may receive some form of recognition and may lead to a completion award.

Chapter VI contains instructional programs that lead to general diplomas and certificates awarded at the secondary education level only.

Appendix A contains instructional programs offered in French to Canadian residents and others for whom French is the first language, or to other students enrolled in schools, colleges, and universities in Canada in which the primary language of instruction is French.

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Organization of the Taxonomy

The CIP taxonomy is organized on three levels: (1) a 2-digit Series, (2) a 4-digit Series, and (3) a 6-digit program level, with the 2-digit Series codes and programsrepresenting the most general groupings of related programs, the 4-digit Series codes and programs representing intermediate groupings of programs that have comparable content and objectives, and the 6-digit codes representing the specific instructional programs.

The numbering format for the 2-digit Series consists of a 2-digit number followed by a period. (Examples: 01., 13., and 22.) Codes and program titles at this level appear in bold type and in capital letters. (Examples: 01. AGRICULTURE, AGRICULTURE OPERATIONS, AND RELATED SCIENCES; 13. EDUCATION; and 22. LEGAL PROFESSIONS AND STUDIES.)

Program descriptions at the 2-digit Series level begin with the standard phrase "Instructional programs," followed by a general description of the content areas and topics associated with the instructional programs within that Series.

The numbering sequence for the 4-digit Series consists of the 2-digit Series number followed by a period and an assigned 2-digit number following the period that is uniquely associated with that 4-digit Series. Codes and program titles at the 4-digit level appear in bold type. (Examples: 01.01 Agricultural Business and Management and 51.02 Communication Disorders Sciences and Services.) The programs that comprise the 4-digit groupings are listed in numerical sequence. Within a 4-digit Series, single instructional programs with a more general focus appear at the beginning of the Series and an "Other" program entry appears as the final program entry within the Series. This convention of including an "other" program code was established to provide a category for reporting on programs that fall within a 4-digit Series but do not have a separate program code. (Example: Within Series 01.01, Agricultural Business and Management, the code and program 01.0101 Agricultural Business and Management, General, appears first and 01.0199, Agricultural Business and Management, Other, is the last program code.)

Program descriptions are not provided at the 4-digit summary level. The user is instead informed where the instructional content for the Series is contained. (Example: For Series 01.01, Agricultural Business and Management, the program description is indicated as follows: Instructional content for this group of programs is defined in codes 01.0101-01.0199.)

Six-digit codesare the most detailed program classifications within the CIP. They are the basic unit of analysis used by NCES and institutions in tracking and reporting program completions and field of study data. There is at least one 6-digit code within every 4-digit Series. The numbering sequence is similar to the 4-digit Series sequence, with two more digits added after the 4-digit Series number; the standard format for the 6-digit codes is XX.XXXX. (Examples: 01.0101, 05.0101, 51.0201.) Program titles appear in bold type. (Examples: 01.0101 Agricultural Business and Management, General; 01.0102 Agribusiness/Agricultural Business Operations; and 51.0201 Communication Disorders, General.)

Each 6-digit program appears with a description that indicates the instructional content of the program. These subject matter listings are intended as a general guide to the content areas addressed by the instructional program. Programs offered at different levels may cover more or fewer topics than those listed.

The program descriptions generally identify the objectives and content of the instructional programs. Program descriptions for academic or general programs begin with the phrase "A program that focuses on..." Program descriptions that begin with the phrase "A program that prepares individuals for..." or the phrase "generally prepares individuals..." indicate that the program is designed to prepare individuals for specific occupations upon completion.

01. AGRICULTURE, AGRICULTURE OPERATIONS, AND RELATED SCIENCES. Instructional programs that focus on agriculture and related sciences and that prepare individuals to apply specific knowledge, methods, and techniques to the management and performance of agricultural operations.

01.01 Agricultural Business and Management. Instructional content for this group of programs is defined in codes 01.0101-01.0199.

01.0102 Agribusiness/Agricultural Business Operations. A program that prepares individuals to manage agricultural businesses and agriculturally related operations within diversified corporations. Includes instruction in agriculture, agricultural specialization, business management, accounting, finance, marketing, planning, human resources management, and other managerial responsibilities.

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Series and Code Titles

The titles of Series and programs presented in the CIP:2000 generally represent the most commonly used current titles of programs and program groupings. However, some titles have been maintained in the CIP:2000 either because of their historical importance and their continued usage by large numbers of institutions and schools, or because the terminology is accepted by accreditors and professional bodies in some cases where programs are governed by regulations related to preparation for licensed occupations.

Single titles are comprised of one word or phrase, such as "Psychology" or "Civil Engineering," that conveys the most commonly used or accepted name describing a program.

In some cases, more than one title may be used for the same instructional program. The CIP:2000 uses words or phrases separated by slashes in situations where (1) two or more commonly accepted names exist for the same program, (2) the same program has different names at different educational levels, or (3) the program has undergone a recent name change but many institutions still use the older name for the program. (Example: "Engineering Technologists/Technicians" is the slashed title of Series 15., which includes programs that prepare engineering technologists [the preferred term, but not the only one used] and also engineering technicians [an alternative title].) Different terms may also be used at different educational levels in some cases. (Example:"Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences," where the term Human Sciences is the new title but it has not yet been universally adopted and thus the older title is still referenced.)

The CIP:2000 groups closely related programs together in 6-digit codes and in Series so that institutions may report data for them in discrete codes and not in undifferentiated "other" categories. The titles of closely related programs captured under the same code are separated by commas and/or the conjunction "and." (Example: The title of Series 50., "Visual and Performing Arts," indicates that it contains programs in both the visual or plastic arts [fine art, applied art, crafts, photography, etc.] and the kinetic or performing arts [music, dance, theatre, etc.]. Likewise, the title of code 03.0201, "Natural Resources Management and Policy," indicates that this code is the appropriate place to report data on majors in either or both natural resources management and natural resources policy.)

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Principles Governing the Inclusion of Programs in the CIP

For purposes of the CIP, NCES defines an instructional program as follows:

A combination of courses and experiences that is designed to accomplish a predetermined objective or set of allied objectives such as preparation for advanced study, qualification for an occupation or range of occupations, or simply the increase of knowledge and understanding. (Chismore and Hill1978, p.165)
Under this definition, instructional programs included in the CIP must meet all of the following operational criteria:

(1) An instructional program must be offered by, through, or under the auspices of an education institution or other recognized provider.

(2) The program must consist of more than one isolated course or learning experience and must not be a haphazard collection of unrelated courses or experiences.

(3) There must be a set of structured learning experiences, defined by an institution or other provider, leading to a completion point that is formally certified by a degree, another formal award, or some other form of recognition.

Types of instructional programs that meet the above criteria for inclusion in the CIP are as follows:

  • postsecondary programs culminating in the following types of awards: postsecondary certificates for the completion of programs that are less than 1 academic year, at least 1 but less than 2 academic years, or at least 2 but less than 4 academic years; associate's degrees; bachelor's degrees; post-baccalaureate certificates; master's degrees; post-master's certificates; first-professional degrees; education specialist's degrees (Ed.Sp.); doctor's degrees; and post-doctorate certificates;
  • residency programs conducted by the dental, medical, and veterinary professions that lead to advanced professional certification, including specific training offered by the U.S. military in programs parallel to civilian instructional programs;
  • secondary and postsecondary Cadet and Junior/Senior ROTC programs;
  • adult education programs leading to certificates of completion;
  • secondary programs culminating in the following awards: regular/general high school diplomas and secondary/senior high graduation/completion diplomas/certificates; college/university preparatory and advanced high school/secondary school diplomas; vocational high school diplomas and secondary/vocational/industrial diplomas; programs culminating in diplomas, honors/regents high school diplomas and provincial graduation certificates; high school/secondary equivalence certificates; adult secondary school diplomas; certificates of competence and provincial certificates of education; certificates of Individualized Education Program (IEP) completion; and certificates for homeschooled instruction.
The CIP is a coding guide designed to assist in the collection of data on formal instructional programs only. The following programs are, therefore, not included in the CIP:
  • in-house, professional, or on-the-job training activities that are not recognized by an education institution or provider and that do not lead to any kind of formal award, credit, or certification; and
  • subject matter specializations or individual courses within a program that are not treated as a major and are generally not recognized by the education institution as a formal program offering.
An instructional program that meets the criteria stated above is eligible for inclusion in the CIP. To determine whether an eligible program would be retained or added, the following decision rules were used:
  • federal survey data showing that at least 30 program completions have been reported over a 3-year period in at least 10 postsecondary institutions in three or more states (e.g., from surveys such as IPEDS or the National Science Foundation's Survey of Earned Doctorates);
  • written requests for new codes provided via federal education surveys and meeting the threshold criterion above;
  • requests from other federal agencies, state governments, or Canadian authorities for new or modified codes together with evidence of the existence of such programs and the need for them;
  • evidence, including testimony, from authorities in a field who state, and provide evidence to show, that a new program exists and is offered; and/or
  • empirical evidence of program viability based on the authors' review of primary sources and related databases at both the secondary and postsecondary levels.
Programs and codes could have been deleted from the current edition of the CIP for the following reasons:
  • federal survey data showing that fewer than 30 program completions were recorded over a 3-year period, in less than 10 postsecondary institutions, and spread across fewer than three states;
  • evidence, including testimony, from authorities in a field who state, and provide evidence to show, that a program is or will no longer be offered or recognized; and/or
  • empirical evidence that a program is not in fact offered, based on the authors' review of primary sources and databases at both the secondary and postsecondary levels.
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Revisions to the CIP:2000

The development of the CIP:2000 resulted in several significant changes to the program listings (additions, deletions, and movements of individual programs and program groups). The conventions used to implement these changes are delineated below.

Several new codes and programs were added to the CIP:2000 to reflect program titles and definitions that are currently used by education providers and professional associations. New programs were added when there was sufficient evidence that a new instructional program or Series of programs was evolving and when the programs met the operational criteria for inclusion. The identification of new programs resulted from meetings and extensive discussions between NCES and representatives of professional associations, academic societies, federal agencies, and institutional registrars and academic affairs officials. Searches of institutional and association program databases also informed the identification of new programs.

A standard procedure was used to identify programs that were added to the CIP:2000. The programs are presented in italics and labeled "NEW" in the Index of CIP:2000 Codes and Titles. They appear in bold italics and are also labeled "NEW" in the full program listing of the CIP:2000. (Examples: 09.10 Publishing (NEW) and 09.1001 Publishing (NEW).) These examples indicate that both a new 4-digit Series and a new 6-digit instructional program for Publishing were added to the CIP.2

Programs that are identified as "NEW" in the CIP:2000 are programs that were either added to the taxonomy for the first time or reinstated from previous CIP taxonomies. (Examples: Series 01.08, Agricultural Public Services, and code/program 51.2209, Maternal and Child Health, are classified as NEW because they were added to the CIP taxonomy for the first time. Urban Forestry [code 03.0508], Comparative Psychology [code 42.0501], and Personality Psychology [code 42.1001] are also classified as NEW, but they were reinstated from previous editions of the CIP.)

The CIP also contains several new CIP codes; that is, numeric codes that have been added to the taxonomy.3 The codes do not necessarily reflect new programs, but typically result from a repositioning or reorganization of programs within the taxonomy. (Example: Code 51.3603 wasadded to the taxonomy because the Hypnotherapy program was moved from its program group in the CIP:1990 and integrated into a newly created program group, Series 51.36, Movement and Mind-Body Therapies and Education.)

Programs and codes that were deleted from the taxonomy are identified in distinct ways in the Full Listing of Program Codes, Titles, and Descriptions. The code for the deleted program appears in brackets and a "Deleted" qualifier appears after the program title. (Example 1: [04.07] Architectural Urban Design and Planning (Deleted); Example 2: [04.0701] Architectural Urban Design and Planning (Deleted, Report under 04.0301).) This information appears in the location formerly occupied by the program entry. The first example indicates that an entire 4-digit Series (group) was deleted from the taxonomy. The second example indicates that the 6-digit instructional program originally contained within the Series was eliminated and integrated into another 6-digit program. Instructions are provided to alert the CIP user where the deleted program should be reported (e.g., Report under04.0301).

Several programs that occupied a particular location in the CIP:1990 were moved to new locations within the CIP:2000. Multiple sources were consulted before Series or program location changes (i.e., moves) were made. Programs that have been moved to new locations (i.e., placed under new program groups) are identified as follows: the program code appears in parentheses with instructions that indicate where the program has been moved to. (Example: (12.0405) Massage (Moved, Report under 51.3501).) This information is provided in the location formerly occupied by the program entry. Indications of where programs have been moved from are also made. (Example: 15.1201 Computer Engineering Technology/Technician (Moved from 15.0301).4

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Other Major Changes to the CIP:2000
  • Several general programs were added at both the 4-digit Series and 6-digit code levels. (Examples: 01.00 Agriculture, General, and 01.0000 Agriculture, General; 46.00 Construction Trades, General, and 46.0000 Construction Trades, General.) These codes were added to permit reporting of undifferentiated or general programs in Series where no such opportunity existed previously.
  • Several program groups (Series) were deleted from the CIP:2000. The deletions were made to implement a more logical organization of the program classifications. (Examples: Series 02. Agricultural Sciences; Series 20. Vocational Home Economics; Series 08. Marketing Operations/Marketing and Distribution; and Series 45.08 History.) These programs were, in most cases, moved (integrated) into other program groups. (Examples: Series 02. programs were integrated into Series 01. and 26.; Series 20. programs [of chapter 1] were moved into Series 19.; and Series 08. programs were integrated into Series 52.)5
  • Several programs and program groups were moved to new locations in the CIP and assigned new CIP codes. Examples include the history and residency programs. History (previously located in Series 45.) was moved into a newly created program group (Series 54.); the residency programs were assigned a new Series code (Series 60.). Dental residency programs were moved to and should be reported under Series 60.01, medical residency programs were moved to and should be reported under Series 60.02, and veterinary residency programs were moved to and should be reported under Series 60.03.
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Cross-references or crosswalks are provided to refer the CIP user to related codes/programs within the CIP. Their primary purpose is to refer the CIP user to a more appropriate code/classification for use in reporting a program. Cross-references are located immediately below the program that they are related to and are preceded by five dashes in the place where a CIP code would appear. They contain the precise title of the Series or program that the CIP user is referred to, followed by a (Report under) instruction that indicates which Series or program should be considered for use. Cross-references are made to specific programs (i.e., 6-digit programs) or to 4- or 2-digit groups.

14.0701 Chemical Engineering.

----- Chemistry. (Report under 40.05 Series)

----- Chemical Technology/Technician. (Report under 41.0301)

A second type of cross-reference uses a (See also) notation to refer the user to a similar program located in another 6-digit program or 4- or 2-digit Series that may be considered before final selection.

19.0201 Business Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences.

----- Hospitality Administration/Management. (See also 52.09 Series)

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1 Note that the numerical sequences in chapter I occasionally skip codes or Series numbers. This results from either deletions of code numbers that appeared in previous editions of the CIP, or moves of 2- or 4-digit Series and/or 6-digit codes to new locations or chapters.

2 A comprehensive list of "NEW" programs is provided in table 1 of the complete handbook.

3 A listing of the added CIP codes is provided in appendix C of the complete handbook.

4 A summarized list of moved programs is provided in table 2 of the complete handbook. The Crosswalk of CIP:1990 to CIP:2000 Programs (table 3) provides detailed information on program moves.

5 These changes/movements are summarized in table 2 of the complete handbook and specified in the CIP:1990 to CIP:2000 crosswalk (table 3).

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Chismore, D., and Hill, Q. (1978). A Classification of Educational Subject Matter. U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

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For technical information, see the complete report:

National Center for Education Statistics. (2002) Classification of Instructional Programs: 2000 Edition (NCES 2002–165).

For questions about content, contact Roslyn A. Korb (

To obtain the complete handbook (NCES 2002–165), call the toll-free ED Pubs number (877-433-7827), visit the NCES Electronic Catalog (, or contact GPO (202-512-1800).

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