Program Innovation

What “New” CIP Codes Can Tell Us About Key Program Markets

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June 14-16, 2023

Boston, MA

Classification of Instructional Programs codes, or CIP codes, are an invaluable tool for researchers and institutions of higher education alike. Providing a taxonomy of academic programs, CIP codes help us decipher key market trends by easily organizing data by field of study, answering questions like: How much has the field grown? How competitive is it? And, who offers the top programs?

Since 1990, CIP codes have been updated every 10 years, most recently in 2020. That means we have two full years of new program data to analyze—some in popular areas, like Data Science and Digital Marketing, where we’ve been largely “flying blind” for years. What can we learn?

Some Background

If CIP codes are new to you, here is a brief overview:

  • CIP codes are developed by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing U.S. education data.
  • CIP codes provide a taxonomic scheme allowing for the accurate reporting and tracking of programs and completions across fields of study.
  • CIP codes come in two-digit (11 Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services), four-digit (11.01 Computer and Information Sciences, General), and six-digit (11.0103 Information Technology) varieties, allowing for varying degrees of reporting and analysis.
  • Since 1990, CIP codes have been updated every 10 years to reflect changes in instructional program structures and the introduction of new fields of study. For the 2020 data reporting year, 300 new CIP codes were released.

Before jumping to the most recently available data, let’s first look at some examples of the newest CIP codes:

Brewing. Between 2011 and 2021, the number of breweries in the U.S. exploded by over 300% growing from just over 2,500 to 9,200 according to the Brewers Association (significantly eclipsing the 46% growth seen in the decade prior). Amid this craft beer boom, higher education responded with program offerings like Colorado State University’s B.S. in Fermentation Science and Technology, SUNY Schenectady’s A.A.S. in Craft Beer Brewing and apprenticeship program, and the University of Richmond’s Beer Brewer Professional Certificate.

NCES also noticed, and, to better track this market, released three brewing-aligned CIP codes: “Brewing Science” (01.1003), “Brewery/Brewpub Operations/Management” (52.0910), andZymology/Fermentation Science” (01.1005).

Other, more common, examples include:

  • Analytics. Adding: “Data Analytics, General” (30.7101), “Business Analytics” (30.7102), “Financial Analytics” (30.7104), and “Data Analytics, Other” (30.7199)
  • Technology. Adding: “Digital Humanities” (30.5202), “Human-Centered Technology Design” (11.0105), “Cloud Computing” (11.0902), and “Computer Game Design” (11.0204)
  • Healthcare/Biomedical Sciences. Adding: “Infectious Disease and Global Health” (26.0509), “Epidemiology and Biostatistics” (26.1311), “Disease Registry Data Management” (51.0721), and “Healthcare Innovation” (51.0722)

But CIP code creation alone doesn’t signal new program opportunities. For more color there, let’s jump to the data.

Initial Market Indicators

While the publication of 2021 completion and program data now provides us with two years’ worth of relevant information to begin assessing the markets around the newly created CIP codes, the key word is “begin.” It will take additional time for newer CIP codes to be fully fleshed out as institutions consider reporting changes and new programs are developed in these fields.

With that in mind, Figure 1 displays the 15 new six-digit CIP codes (subfields) reporting the most completions in 2021 across all credential levels.


New CIP Codes (Top 15) with Most 2021 Completions, All Credential LevelsFigure 1.


Three broad field clusters claim multiple new subfields above:

  1. Data/Analytics (3): Business Analytics; Data Analytics, General; and Data Science, General
  2. Business/Management (3): Digital Marketing; Science/Technology Management; and Risk Management
  3. Engineering/Engineering Technology (3): Electrical and Computer Engineering; Applied Engineering; and Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering Technology/Technician

That these nine CIP codes represent over half of the largest 15 new CIP codes does not come as a surprise. The data analytics and science fields blossomed over the last decade, and many schools will be eager to report to more clearly aligned programs. Business and engineering—where the aligned CIP codes in Figure 1 report majority bachelor’s and master’s conferrals—remain two of the top fields of interest among those prospects.

Another important angle is to observe which program CIP codes reported the largest completion gains between 2020 and 2021. Figure 2 provides this look.


Figure 2.


While many CIP codes make both lists (teal), five different CIP codes appear (orange). These different codes represent a mix of markets like technology (Computer Programming, Specific Platforms and Cybersecurity Defense Strategy/Policy which cluster with Cloud Computing), engineering (Energy Systems Engineering, General), health (Healthcare Innovation which is a code blending themes of healthcare and product innovation), and, interestingly, the dramatic arts (Theatre and Dance).

It’s also important to note that what might look like growth in one field may reflect schools reporting conferrals from long-existing programs to a new CIP code that better matched its program focus. Future conferral and program updates will help add clarity to this point.

The Bottom Line

While two data points in time—2020 and 2021—are not enough to firmly establish trends, they provide an early window into how markets are developing around new CIP codes and a starting point to continue tracking them in the future as more data is made available. But if one uses the findings here to speculate on future academic market trajectories, continued momentum appears to be in the cards for technology, data, business, and health fields – particularly where a program offers a nexus between multiple fields.

If a new CIP code above catches your eye, reach out to your CRA to explore it in more depth.


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