Mercer Reclassified by Carnegie as Doctoral University with High Research Activity


MACON – In the latest adjustment to the Carnegie Classification® of Institutions of Higher Education, Mercer University has been moved to the second-highest level of doctoral research universities in the country.

The Carnegie Classification® is the basic way that colleges and universities are categorized in the United States. The more than 30 categories range from institutions granting associate degrees up to doctoral universities with very high research activity (R1).

Mercer is now categorized as a Doctoral University with High Research Activity (R2).

In the previous reclassification that was released in 2015, Mercer was moved from the Masters Colleges and Universities category to the Doctoral Universities with Moderate Research Activity (R3).

The R1 and R2 categories include 259 institutions that conferred at least 20 research/scholarship doctorates and reported a minimum of $5 million in total research expenditures through the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development survey.

“Mercer’s reclassification to the second-highest Carnegie category recognizes the University’s growing research profile,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood. “Research and creative activity are central to our mission to teach, to learn, to create, to discover, to inspire, to empower and to serve. Our ultimate goal in expanding research activity at Mercer is to discover new knowledge and solve problems that lead to improvements in the human condition.”

The most recent University 10-year strategic plan, adopted by the Board of Trustees last April, calls for Mercer to achieve R2 status by 2028 and to achieve $60 million in annual research activity as defined by the NSF. Mercer currently generates about $35 million in annual NSF research funding, twice the amount it did a decade ago.

The Carnegie Classification® has been the leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for the past four-and-a-half decades.

Starting in 1970, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed a classification of colleges and universities to support its program of research and policy analysis. Derived from empirical data on colleges and universities, the Carnegie Classification was originally published in 1973, and subsequently updated in 1976, 1987, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015 and in 2018 to reflect changes among colleges and universities.

This framework has been widely used in the study of higher education, both as a way to represent and control for institutional differences, and also in the design of research studies to ensure adequate representation of sampled institutions, students or faculty.

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Kyle Sears