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CIP 2020


The FAQs include responses to frequently asked questions about the CIP. They are divided into two sections. The first section focuses on general questions about the 2020 CIP, while the second section focuses on coding questions. General F.A.Qs pertain to the overall CIP and not a specific series or CIP Code. They include questions about the different components of a CIP code, the difference between general CIP Codes and Other CIP Codes, and whether CIP codes pertain to a specific degree level. Coding F.A.Q.s are much more specific and explain why a user might chose a specific code or CIP Series, such as what is the CIP Code for student designed majors, what is the difference between Series 14 and 15, and what CIP Code should be used for Registered Nurses (R.N.) vs… Licensed Practical Nurses (L.P.N).

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A general guideline for using the 2020 Classification of Instructional Programs is to start with selecting the two digit series which best describes the content of the program and then look for the six digit CIP code which best describes your program of study. In some cases, instructional programs may be found in one or more series. For example, a person can receive a degree in Statistics from a program that focuses on mathematical models; this program would be coded under code 27.0501 Statistics, General. On the other hand, a person can receive a degree in Statistics from a program which focuses on the applications of statistical methods to the description, analysis, and forecasting of business data; this degree would be coded under code 52.1302 Business Statistics. Cross-references are included throughout the CIP for codes that are related, to help the user select the code which best describes their instructional program.

CIP codes that include a slash in the title identify alternative or equivalent program titles. For example, 14.3201 Polymers/Plastics Engineering uses the slash, indicating that both terms are equivalent and can be used interchangeably. CIP codes with the word “and” in the title, identify programs that are so closely related that it does not make sense to separate them. For example, 45.0501 Demography and Population Studies includes “and,” indicating that these are very closely related programs that are often found together in the same department. Programs in “Demography,” “Population Studies,” and “Demography and Population Studies” should all be reported here. It may also be the case that two closely related programs are linked together because by themselves there were not enough completions to justify two separate CIP codes.

Note that "and" is also used to indicate instructional programs that integrate two programs that stand alone elsewhere in the CIP; in all such instances, this is clearly stated in the definition. For example, 26.1007 Pharmacology and Toxicology offer "an integrated, combined approach" to the study of pharmacology and toxicological issues, programs that are found separately as 26.1001 Pharmacology and 26.1004 Toxicology. In this case, only combined programs should be reported as 26.1007, while the separate programs should be reported under their respective codes.

Programs that are undifferentiated, non-specified, or generalized should be included in the "general" category at the beginning of a four-digit series, while programs that are specific but do not fit into any of the CIP codes should be included in the 99 "other" category at the end of a series. For example, a degree in Psychology would be reported under 42.0101 Psychology, General, while a degree in Neuropsychology would be reported under 42.9999 Psychology, Other.

Examples were added to the 2010 CIP to help users decide where to report instructional programs that do not exactly match available CIP code titles. The examples listed are in no way intended to be an exhaustive list of programs that could be reported under a specific CIP code, but instead include some of the most common names of instructional programs for specific CIP codes that were found while conducting searches of course catalogs and postsecondary institutions websites.

A cross-reference is also designed to assist the CIP user in selecting the appropriate code for their program of study. It references related CIP codes, which may be of interest to the CIP user. For example, 05.0211 Deaf Studies references 16.1601 American Sign Language.

CIP codes generally apply to all levels of certificates and degree. In some cases, however, degrees were specified in the examples for certain CIP codes in which federal agencies needed to be able to obtain data on the number of degrees awarded in a particular field of study. For example, see code 51.1201 Medicine, which lists Medicine (MD) as an example.

A program marked with "Text Change" means that the title and/or definition have been changed in a substantive way that could affect which instructional programs should be reported under this code. These changes include modifying or updating the title, adding and/or deleting text in the description, or updating the description to better reflect the current instructional field of study. Users are encouraged to familiarize themselves with text changes to assure that they report programs under the most appropriate codes.

Changes that are merely stylistic and do not change meaning have NOT been labeled as a "text change." Examples of these include deleting degree designations from the titles of certain professional programs; adding the words "residency program" to all titles in Series 60 Residency Programs; removing text that does not add clarity to descriptions (see Series 16); and making other minor changes that do not affect meaning. If there was any likelihood that a text change might affect reporting decisions, it was flagged as a "text change."

For the most part, these two versions are identical, and NCES and Statistics Canada worked together to ensure that the CIP meets the needs of both countries. However, in a few specific instances, the educational systems of each country are different enough to necessitate differences in each country's version of the CIP. Specifically:

  • There are several programs of instruction in Canada that focus on the growing, production and use of medicinal cannabis, which currently is not available in the United States as well as a few programs for which there are no equivalents in the United States. All of these codes, plus a few others for which there is not an equivalent program in the United States have "Reserved" in the title and the following text in their definition "Reserved for use by Statistics Canada. This CIP code is not valid for IPEDS reporting". These codes are distributed throughout different 2 digit CIP Series.
  • In Series 43.03, the U.S. version uses the term "Homeland Security" while the Canadian version uses "Public Safety."
  • The Canadian version includes French as a Second Language (16.1702) and a 2 digit series for French language and literature/letters (Series 55).
  • The Canadian version uses aboriginal or indigenous instead of American Indian/Native American (e.g., Series 16.10).
  • Additional examples have been added to the vocational and technical series in the Canadian version that correspond to the Red Seal Trades in Canada.
  • The Canadian version includes a French translation.

The following series are not valid for IPEDS Reporting.








53.02 High School/Secondary Certificate Programs



Series 28, 32-37, 53, 60 and 61 are not valid for IPEDS reporting because they typically are programs of study that are not taken for credit and/or do not result in a formal certificate or degree upon completion. The Completions Component of IPEDS focuses exclusively on credit-bearing programs of study. While these series may not be relevant for IPEDS, they are relevant for many postsecondary institutions. Many postsecondary institutions want to be able to track the number of students enrolled in non-credit programs to determine which ones have the highest demand. Information on non-credit programs help postsecondary institutions determine the amount of staff, space, and other resources to allocate to non-credit programs. Information on remedial education, captured by Series 32, is important in order because it can serve a measure of student preparedness for postsecondary education and determine specific skills sets they are lacking.

STEM is an acronym for the following academic disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. There is not a single unified definition of STEM used throughout the Federal government. Every federal agency defines it differently and some of them use CIP Code to define STEM. STEM definitions vary from agency to agency and sometimes within an agency. Since there is such variation in how STEM is defined, NCES does not have a single definition.

The SEVIS (Student Exchange and Visitor Information Services) Office within Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses the CIP to define STEM for purposes of extending postsecondary, foreign student visas for optional practical training (OPT). NCES does not have any authority or influence over what CIP Codes DHS defines as STEM for purposes of OPT. For additional information, please contact the SEVIS office in the DHS:

With the implementation of the 2020–21 Award Year in the COD System on April 26, 2020, schools must use the 2020 CIP codes list for all programs for the 2020–21 Award Year and forward. In addition, the CIP Code Year value, along with the CIP code, will be required by the COD System for the 2020–21 Award Year and forward for all Pell Grant, Direct Loan, and TEACH Grant records.

Detailed information about the April 26th COD System update will be provided in an Electronic Announcement, to be posted in the next several weeks to the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website:

In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the US Department of Labor and NCES worked together to create the CIP-SOC Crosswalk and updated it in 2020 to reflect updates to the CIP and SOC. The CIP-SOC Crosswalk matches 6-digit CIP Codes with 6-digit SOC Codes based on their descriptions. The underlying principle between matching CIP Codes with SOC Codes is that the academic program needs to provide the skills and knowledge required to perform an occupation. The 2020 CIP-SOC Crosswalk can be downloaded from the CIP website:

To be included in Series 30, an instructional program needs to be interdisciplinary, meaning that the program crosses two or more two-digit CIP series. For example, 30.0101 Biological and Physical Sciences, is intended for instructional programs which include instruction in both the biological sciences (Series 26) and physical sciences (Series 40). On the other hand, CIP code 45.1301 Sociology and Anthropology is included in Series 45, and not Series 30, since both Sociology and Anthropology are social sciences and are therefore in the same series.

Programs focusing on basic research in biomedical fields should be included in Series 26. Programs focusing on clinical sciences and research should be included in Series 51. Series 61 includes residency programs that prepare medical doctors, osteopathic doctors, and podiatrists for certification in recognized specialties, but do not award academic degrees. For example, a program that focuses on the scientific study of the cardiovascular system and its disorders and diseases and prepares individuals for research careers should be reported in 26.0907 Cardiovascular Science. A program that prepares a medical doctor to do research and results in a degree other than an MD should be included in 51.1401 Medical Science/Scientist. A residency program that prepares physicians to specialize in and manage cardiac conditions, but does not result in an academic degree, should be reported as 61.0804 Cardiovascular Disease. Please note that while Series 61 is included in the CIP, it is not reported on the IPEDS Completion Survey.

Instructional programs which generally lead to a bachelor's degree or higher in one of the engineering fields are generally reported under Series 14. Series 14 also includes Pre-Engineering programs designed as preparation for entry into baccalaureate-level engineering programs. Instructional programs that generally support the work of engineers and which include "technology" or "technician" in the title are reported under Series 15. Series 15 also includes engineering-related fields such as Engineering/Industrial Management.

Generalized, undifferentiated communication programs should be reported under code 09.0100 Communication, General, while programs that focus on Speech Communication and Rhetoric, and that are taught in Communication Departments or Schools of Communication, should be reported under code 09.0101 Speech Communication and Rhetoric. Instructional programs which focus on Mass Communication or the Media should be reported under code 09.0102 Mass Communication/ Media Studies.

Programs that focus on Area, Ethnic, Cultural, Gender, or Group Studies should be reported under Series 05. Instructional programs that primarily focus on the study of foreign languages, along with their literature and/or linguistics, should be reported under Series 16. For example, instructional programs that focus on Russian Language and Literature should be reported under code 16.0402 Russian Language and Literature, while instructional programs that focus on Russian history, society, politics, and culture should be reported under code 05.0110 Russian Studies.

Because institutions offer programs at different levels of specificity, it is necessary to provide CIP codes that represent the most general to the most specific types of programs; these programs are interrelated and may sometimes overlap. We encourage users to (1) scan the content of the entire series to become familiar with the types of codes provided, and (2) search electronically for specific program titles found at their institution. This should ensure the most accurate reporting. For example, a CIP user would report a general "Asian Studies" program under 05.0103 Asian Studies/Civilization, but an "East Asian Studies" program under 05.0104 East Asian Studies, "Chinese Studies" under 05.0123 Chinese Studies, and so on. The same principle applies to the language programs in series 16.

Programs which focus on two or more literary traditions in their original language or translation should be coded under 16.0104 Comparative Literature, while programs that focus specifically on English language literature should be reported under one of the codes in series 23.14. Programs that focus on the transmission, reception, production, and interpretation of texts should be reported under 30.5301 Textual Studies.

Degrees that are awarded without specifying a program of study should be coded under 24.0102 General Studies.

Student-designed majors or individualized majors which are multidisciplinary in nature and which cross two or more two-digit CIP series should be reported under 30.0000 Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, General. Student-designed majors or individualized majors, which focus on a single field of study should be reported under 24.0101 Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies. For example, a student-designed degree in Mathematics and Music would be reported under code 30.0000 Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, General, while a student-designed degree in Modern Thought would be reported under 24.0101 Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies.

Programs reported under Series 39 are intended for individuals that are preparing for religious vocations, while programs reported under Series 38 are programs that focus on the study of religion. For example, an individual who is studying to become a Rabbi would be reported under 39.0605 Rabbinical Studies, while an individual who is studying the history, culture, and religion of the Jewish people would be reported under 38.0206 Jewish/Judaic Studies.

RN programs should be coded under 51.38 Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing, while LPNs should be reported under 51.39 Practical Nursing, Vocational Nursing and Nursing Assistants. Please note that in the 2010 CIP, the nursing series was split across two 4-digit series to make the distinction between instructional programs for registered nurses (Series 51.38) and instructional programs for non-registered nurses (Series 51.39).

Nursing Science prepares nurses to conduct nursing research following the standards of academic research methodologies. Nursing Practice prepares nurses to apply the results of research to clinical settings--to translate evidence into practice.

A double major is reported when a student has completed more than one program of study, but will be receiving only one degree. If the student receives a degree for each program, then each degree should be coded separately. For example if a student pursues a double major in Music and Mechanical Engineering and receives a B.A. in music and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, then each of these degrees should be coded separately. On the other hand, if a student pursues a double major in Political Science and History and is awarded a single degree in Political Science and History, then the individual school needs to decide whether to report it under the code for Political Science or History.

The use of computers, digital technologies, and "new media" blurs the distinctions among many instructional programs across broad fields of study and results in some overlap in program features and coursework. At the same time, these programs have distinct emphases and are not truly interdisciplinary in nature. When deciding where to report a program, you should take into account the primary emphasis of the program, e.g., technical skills, artistic expression, or communication. For example, programs reported under 09.0702 Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia should focus on the communication process while programs in 50.0102 Digital Arts, General should focus on the expressive, artistic side. Similarly, 11.0803 Computer Graphics programs should focus on technical computer tools while programs reported under 50.0409 Graphic Design should focus on artistic skills.

The terms technology and technician can be used interchangeably. They are both included to reflect the fact that some states and institutions require that degrees be awarded include the specific title technician instead of the broader academic word technology. The CIP makes an effort to include such variations to facilitate keyword searches and improve the accuracy of data reporting.

Series 13 should be used for programs that prepare individuals for careers in education, including teachers at all levels, school and college administrators, support services for educational programs, and other careers related to teaching and learning theories and practices. These are distinguished from majors that provide content knowledge in a particular field, but themselves do not prepare individuals to teach (though such individuals may simultaneously take courses that prepare them to seek licensure as a teacher). For example, a program that prepares individuals to teach mathematics would be coded 13.1311 Mathematics Teacher Education; a program that focuses on mathematics content would be coded 27.0101 Mathematics, General.

Series 60.04 and 60.05 focused on the level rather than the content of the residency or fellowship programs and was inconsistent with the rest of the CIP which focuses on academic discipline. Series 61 is organized according to the departments one would find in a hospital (e.g., internal medicine, surgery) and which organization within the American Board of Medical Specialties oversees the programs. For example, while many pediatric fellowships (Series 61.19) are overseen by the American Board of Pediatrics, Pediatric Urology is in Series 61.28 since this program is overseen by the American Board of Urology. All of the residency and fellowship programs are consistent with the American Council on Graduate Medical Education list of accredited programs.

Please note that while Series 61 is included in the CIP, it is not reported on the IPEDS Completion Survey.

Both Series 28 and 29 are specifically reserved for instructional programs that are taught by the military or at military institutions and which typically do not have civilian analogues. Series 28 has been expanded to include military sciences, operational studies, leadership, and strategic studies, in addition to Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC, ROTC) programs. However, since the vast majority of IPEDS institutions do not grant credit for ROTC courses that count towards a degree or certificate, Series 28 is not reported as part of the IPEDS Completions Survey. Series 29 includes an expanded group of military technology and applied science programs.

Combined medical residency/fellowship training consists of a coherent educational experience in two or more closely related specialty or subspecialty programs. The educational plan for combined training is approved by the specialty board of each of the specialties to assure that resident physicians completing combined training are eligible for board certification in each of the component specialties. Each specialty or subspecialty program is separately accredited by American Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) through its respective specialty review committee. The duration of combined training is longer than any one of its component specialty programs standing alone, and shorter than all of its component specialty programs together.

If a medical fellowship program does not require entrants to have completed a specific residency program for entry, these programs are listed as multiple-pathway medical fellowship programs. However, these programs can still be limited to graduates of specific residency programs. For example, entry into Sleep Medicine Fellowships (Series 61.0226) is open to graduates of a family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, child neurology, otolaryngology, pediatrics, or psychiatry residency program.

Since CIP codes related to animal science and care are already included in Series 01 (e.g., 01.09 Animal Science, 01.0504 Dog/Pet/Animal Grooming), it was decided to include Veterinary Medicine and Science in Series 01 and focus on human health in Series 51.

Since residency and fellowship programs that do not result in an academic degree are not reported on the IPEDS Completions Survey, it was decided to keep Series 60.03 Veterinary Residency Programs in Series 60 with the other residency and fellowship CIP codes that are not valid for IPEDS reporting.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the Department of Labor (DOL) uses the CIP to build a crosswalk between the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) and the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC). The CIP-SOC crosswalk is used to identify educational programs that prepare students for different careers. Once the crosswalk is mapped to income data from BLS, the crosswalk can provide an estimate of annual income students might expect throughout their career, assuming that students pursue a career for which their education prepared them. The National Science Foundation (NSF) uses the CIP to define STEM fields of study for purposes of its data collection. Finally, the SEVIS Office in the Department of Homeland Security uses the CIP to determine programs of study that are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Optional Practical Training enables students to extend their Visa for up to an additional three years. In addition to the three examples discussed, many other state and federal agencies use the CIP for reasons beyond its initial intention.

NCES has not defined a specific set of codes which qualify as STEM Codes and that can be used in making policy decisions. NCES is prohibited from making policy decisions based on their data. It is also important to note that across agencies and sometimes even within a federal agency, what areas are designated as STEM fields of study will vary. It is therefore very important to find out how STEM is defined.