Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Boston College Promoted to R1 Institution Status

Under the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education released on Feb. 1, Boston College moved from an R2 to an R1 classified research institution. This year's Carnegie Classifications, which are released once every five years, was based on data from the 2013-2014 academic year.

R1 designation by Carnegie Classifications denotes universities with the “highest research” by doctoral universities. In addition to BC, Northeastern, Clemson, and Syracuse were among the 15 schools that moved into the R1 category.

Any university that gave at least 20 doctorates in 2013-2014 academic year (besides medical or law degrees) is considered a “doctoral university.” This year there are 335 colleges categorized as doctoral universities — just 7% of higher education institutes receive this designation.

These doctoral universities are further sorted into three categories: “highest research,” “higher research,” and “moderate research;” or R1, R2, and R3 respectively. (These categories were previously called “very high,” “high” and “doctoral/research” in the 2010 report.) These designations are based on the amount of research done and account for the varying sizes of institutions.

As stated by the Carnegie Institution of Higher Education, their measures “analyze the relative level of research activity,” but “do not address issues of quality, impact, or significance.” Additionally the Carnegie Institute states, “we do not believe the institution-level results should be used for institution-by-institution comparison and ranking” with regard to their R1, R2, and R3 rankings.

Despite this statement, Carnegie’s designations can bear a significant weight on how universities brand themselves when attracting students and faculty. Additionally, the U.S. News and World Reports only considers Carnegie’s “doctoral universities” (R1, R2, and R3) to be “national universities” under its ranking system.

Universities not in this category are referred to as “regional universities,” which are typically not as highly regarded by top students and is why schools like Villanova work hard to achieve doctoral status and celebrate the new categorization.

BC’s move into the top group of research universities reflects positively on the university and is an easy label to show its research might.

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