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CIP Code Assignments

What is a CIP Code?

The Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) is a national taxonomy of academic programs developed by the US Department of Education to assist in the classification of academic programs for federal surveys and reporting of institutional data. Universities assign CIP codes to their academic programs. Each program of study has a 6-digit CIP code (xx.xxxx) with the first two digits providing the disciplinary category and the remaining four digits representing additional layers of specificity. Reporting that is connected to CIP codes can be at the 2-, 4-, or 6-digit level depending on the level of specificity required by the reporting agency.

Although CIP codes are mostly invisible to students and faculty, they are important administratively for federal financial aid, considerations related to visas for international students, and for federal reporting.

CIP Codes and STEM Designation

CIP codes are frequently used to determine eligibility for special programs or grant funding. There is not one universally accepted definition of STEM. Below are some common uses of CIP codes for STEM designation:

  • STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension: A STEM OPT Extension is a 24-month period of time allowing an international student to obtain additional training in their subject area. The program of study must be in an approved STEM discipline as identified by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The list of STEM OPT extension programs is developed by the DHS and the most recent version of the list is found online.
  • Grant Eligibility: Refer to specific funding guidelines to determine STEM program eligibility.
  • STEM CIP Code Designation: Any program with a qualifying STEM CIP code must demonstrate that 50% or more of the program content and associated learning outcomes are grounded in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The evidence for this is found in the program level learning outcomes developed for each degree program, the curricular requirements, and the syllabi for courses required in the program.
  • National or State Initiatives: Initiatives in which the University participates or Statewide efforts may define or adopt definitions of STEM specific to the need.
  • Multi/interdisciplinary Studies (30.xxxx) Assignments: Some STEM programs will be assigned a CIP code at the 30 level, denoting a program as multi or interdisciplinary.

CIP Code Assignment

CIP codes are assigned to academic programs when they are created based on the curriculum as approved for the degree or program by Boise State’s Undergraduate Curriculum Committee or the Graduate Council. The CIP code is then recorded in the student information system, PeopleSoft. The information below outlines the assignment of CIP codes for new programs and requests for changes to CIP code assignments.

Initial CIP code assignment for new programs: Academic Planning in the Office of the Provost in consultation with the department/program and Institutional Effectiveness as necessary, determines the CIP code. The assignment is based on the approved curriculum, its focus and purpose, and the program learning outcomes, and uses the following principles in the assignment of the CIP codes:

Academic Planning consults the Federal CIP code taxonomy and the descriptions associated with CIP codes to determine the closest match to the program. The approved curriculum documentation and/or the Idaho State Board of Education program proposal are used as the basis for CIP code assignment. When finding a closely matching CIP code the following is confirmed: 

  1. the CIP code assignment is appropriate at all levels of the CIP code taxonomy,
  2. the proposed CIP assignment is appropriate for the degree and degree-level awarded to the program,
  3. the CIP code is not already in use for another program unless the new program is an extension of an existing program (e.g., the addition of a PhD to an existing masters program) or is acknowledged to be in a closely related and potentially overlapping area of study to an existing area of study,
    1. generally, no two programs outside of the same department should have the same 6-digit CIP code,
    2. generally, programs that are certificates or minors should be nested within the discipline of the home department when possible,
  4. if the CIP code that best represents the program is found to be a 30.xxxx (multi/interdisciplinary) careful consideration is given before assignment. Academic Planning will consult with IR, and the STEM Institute to ensure there are no unintended consequences of a multi/interdisciplinary selection, such ineligibility for scholarship awards, or ineligibility for key reporting.

If no closely matching CIP code is found, the following pieces of information are considered to help with the assignment:

  1. the academic home (Department, School/College) of the program and the current CIP code assignments of existing programs within the academic home,
  2. CIP code recommendations from the academic home of the program,
  3. known attributes associated with the CIP code description,
  4. the level of the program (i.e., minor, certificate, Bachelor’s, etc.),
  5. benefits to students, for example, one CIP code option may qualify students for STEM OPT program (only if program meets STEM designation as evidenced by curriculum/learning outcomes),
  6. avoidance of a CIP code already in use for another program at the same degree-level.

Requests for changes to CIP code assignments

CIP codes are generally static, however, every 10 years the Department of Education releases new CIP codes that may warrant changes to existing CIP code assignments.  

Outside of the new CIP code releases, occasional changes can be made to increase alignment with a program’s curriculum. CIP code changes are only made effective starting in a fall term to ensure that there is no disruption to student financial aid disbursement, international student visa considerations, and associated federal reporting requirements. To request a change in CIP code assignment, a short proposal should be created that includes the following:

The current CIP code and the official CIP code description

The proposed CIP code and the official CIP code description

The rationale/justification for how the proposed CIP code is a better description for the degree or major than the current assignment and

Information demonstrating that the CIP code change will not have adverse impacts on students.

Proposals must be signed by the department chair.  Individuals proposing changes in CIP codes should be aware that there may be implications for reporting or programmatic benchmarking.

The proposal will be reviewed by the Vice Provost for Academic Planning in consultation with Institutional Effectiveness. If curricular changes are necessary before the change in CIP code can be considered, proceed with the curricular changes first, and then submit a proposal for a CIP code change.

Due to the significant lead time needed to adjust student records and ameliorate any adverse impacts of the changes on student financial aid eligibility, CIP code changes are only effective in subsequent fall semesters.