CIP Codes

What are Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Codes?

The Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Codes were developed by the U.S. Department of Education as the national taxonomic standard of academic program titles for federal surveys and state reporting of institutional data. Each Western Washington University (WWU) program of study (that is, major, minor or WWU issued certificate) is associated with a six-digit CIP code for the purposes of reporting data to the federal government. It is our institutional obligation to identify the six-digit code that best describes the program.

CIP codes have been associated with academic programs at WWU for many years. On occasion, there is a desire to change the CIP code associated with an academic program.

What are the implications of changing a CIP code?

A change in a program’s CIP code can have major, long‐lasting implications for financial aid, international students, IPEDS reporting, census, funding, and other programs and reports. As such, any change in CIP code will be carefully vetted before being approved or denied. When determining whether a proposed CIP code change is warranted, the registrar will carefully consider the college’s written submission. The registrar may request additional information from the college as needed and consult with other university offices or officials, to understand the potential impact of the change.

If the university determines that a CIP code should be changed, the following external approval must be secured before the new CIP code can be implemented:

As a condition of the university’s Title IV program participation agreement, CIP code changes may need to be approved by the US Department of Education. Securing external approvals from state and federal agencies can take significant time.

CIP code changes will be effective after the proposal is approved and only at the beginning of the fall quarter of each academic year. Approved changes are not retroactive.

When can a CIP code be changed?

On occasion, there may be a need to change the CIP code associated with an academic program of study. This step is taken under the following circumstances:

  • The existing CIP code designation was made in error and the mistake needs to be corrected.
  • The academic program has evolved since the time it was created to the extent that a different CIP code now best describes the program.
  • Once a decade, the National Center for Education Statistics does review CIP codes and may add new ones to the taxonomic scheme. In the event that a new code more accurately identifies a program, a change may be initiated.

How to request a change to a CIP code:

If you believe that a program over which you have authority requires a different CIP code, the request for a change in CIP code should be submitted in writing to the Registrar.

1) The detailed rationale underlying the proposed change: this includes the fit between the curriculum, catalog description, program title, and current and proposed CIP codes.

  • An academic program that aligns in name with an existing CIP designation (e.g. Anthropology appears to align well with the CIP designation of “Anthropology 45.0201”) needs to convincingly and specifically demonstrate why the so-named program aligns better with a different CIP code title (e.g., under “Geographic Information Science 45.0702”).

2) Evidence that the proposed change has been endorsed by program faculty and the college dean.


The Registrar may invoke the assistance of the CIP Code Change Review Panel to evaluate the merit of the request for the change in CIP code. The Review Panel is formed each year in the fall quarter to serve during the academic year and is composed of a designee from the Provost’s Office, a member of the faculty designated by the Faculty Senate, and the Registrar. A response to the request for a change in CIP will be provided in writing.

To learn more about CIP codes and to discuss the possibilities of a change, please consult the Registrar.