CIP Codes


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. At RIT, each program of study has a 6-digit CIP code which can be viewed in the RIT Program Library.


CIP Codes and STEM Designation

CIP codes are sometimes 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 this list can be found here.
  • Grant Eligibility: Refer to funding guidelines to determine STEM program eligibility.


CIP Code Assignment

CIP codes are assigned to academic programs when they are created based on the curriculum as approved for the degree by RIT and NYSED. The information below outlines the assignment of CIP codes for new programs and requests for changes to CIP code assignments.

Any program with a qualifying STEM CIP code - either for STEM OPT Extension or grant eligibility - 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 assessment plan (PLOAP) developed for each degree program and the syllabi for courses required in the program.

Initial CIP code assignment for new programs: The Vice Provost for Academic Affairs determines the CIP code in consultation with Institutional Research, Registrar and the academic program faculty. The assignment is based on the approved curriculum. The CIP code is recorded as an attribute of an academic program in the student information system.

Requests for changes to CIP code assignments: CIP codes are generally static but occasional changes can be made to increase alignment with a program's curriculum. 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
  • Information demonstrating that the CIP code change will not have adverse impacts on students, and
  • Memos of support or concurrence from closely related programs, if relevant. The proposal should be approved by the program faculty and the school/college dean's office.

Dean's offices should submit the proposal to the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, who will review in consultation with Institutional Research and the Registrar. 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.