A higher education institution is often referred to as an “institute.” It could be a private or nonprofit institution or it may be a for-profit or governmental organization. The term “degree-granting” is used to describe an institution that awards baccalaureate degrees. There are several types of institutions that grant this type of degree. These include 2-year colleges and 4-year colleges and universities.
Two-year and four-year institutions are distinguished from each other by their focus and degree programs. For example, some four-year institutions are heavily research focused while some are more career oriented. This may be a reflection of the institution’s mission. In addition, there are differences between 2-year and 4-year institutions as to how they are governed. Some of these differences can be explained by the type of degrees offered by each. Generally, a two-year institution will prepare students for transfer to a four-year institution and will not offer baccalaureate degrees.
According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, a higher education institution is recognized if it meets certain criteria. Accreditation requires that a candidate undergo an on-site evaluation to determine whether or not the institution meets the criteria for accreditation. An institutional self-study is also required. However, this does not guarantee that the institution will be accredited in the future.
Another common term used to identify a degree-granting institution is a specialized institution. Specialized institutions are those with a programmatic emphasis in a specific area. This is often found in a professional field such as engineering or divinity. Most specialized institutions award more than half of their baccalaureate degrees in that area. Typical specializations are engineering, business and management, fine arts, U.S. service schools, and other similar institutions.
Doctorate-granting institutions are characterized by their level of research activity. Research activity is measured using financial, academic, and other measures. Those institutions with high doctoral activity must award at least 30 doctorate degrees per year. A doctoral-granting institution must have a diverse selection of doctoral programs in its program areas. Examples of doctoral-granting institutions include medical schools, graduate schools, and other specialized educational organizations.
In addition, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education identifies all accredited degree-granting institutions in the United States. The classification is managed by Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research. All colleges and universities in the United States are included in the classification. Colleges and universities that were ranked by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching must be included in the Basic, Advanced, or Advance classifications. In order to be ranked, the institution had to have regional accreditation and must enroll at least full-time undergraduates seeking bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, the school had to deliver at least some undergraduate education in person. Using a combination of these criteria, Carnegie created a three-part classification.
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