The following establishes guidelines for departments that identify a need for a Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code change. These guidelines provide clarity and transparency for requesting such changes. Additionally, they include information regarding how and when approved CIP code changes will take effect in the student information system and on student records.

Request for Change

Typically, CIP code changes may be requested to better reflect the program’s curriculum or for better alignment with another CIP code (different from the originally-assigned code) added to the federal database.

Guidelines for Departments

Once approved by the curriculum committee or school-based approval process, schools should convey CIP code change requests to the Office of Academic Affairs within the Office of the Provost, via the Academic Compliance Officer, and include the formal approval with the change request. Upon request, the Office of Academic Affairs will provide guidance and direction on CIP code change requirements and ensure communication of potential changes to relevant offices, including the Office of the University Registrar, the Office of International Services, and other offices as needs mandate. Departments should be prepared to include all related programs (all levels), Areas of Concentration (AoC)s, and certificates that will be subject to the CIP code change request. Please note that the academic program’s CIP code, not the AoC’s CIP code, is the taxonomical arbiter that dictates reporting and STEM designation.

Additional guidelines are as follows:

  • Where a revised CIP code is associated with curricular changes that render it eligible for a STEM CIP code, the program administrator, department chair, or equivalent, in collaboration with Dean’s office, is responsible for determining whether 50% of the curriculum is STEM in nature when submitting the change request to the Office of the Academic Affairs. All change requests must be authorized by the Dean’s office using the intake form from the Office of Academic Affairs.
  • For a STEM CIP code, along with the change request, program leadership will also provide the list of students who will be eligible for the new CIP code (once approval is received from MHEC) to the Office of the University Registrar. Students who have not completed the coursework associated with the STEM designation may not receive the new STEM CIP code.
  • For any CIP code change (STEM or Non-STEM), program leadership is responsible for communicating with affected students that the new CIP code will not be effective in the term in which the approval is received. The new CIP code will always be effective in the term subsequent to the approval term.
  • Program leadership shall provide clear guidance to students on effectuating their association with the new CIP code as documented in these guidelines.
  • If the CIP code change is due to a major curriculum update, the students should be given clear guidelines on sunsetting the current curriculum. These should also be included in the university catalogue as appropriate.
Administrative Procedure After MHEC Approval

Due to the significant lead time needed to adjust student records and ameliorate any adverse effects of the changes on various compliance reporting (including financial aid compliance), CIP code changes become effective in the term subsequent to the MHEC approval date. For example, if the approval is received on May 10th, which falls under spring term, the new CIP code will be effective before the end of the next term, which will be summer.

New/Updated CIP Code Eligibility

CIP code changes will not be applied retroactively to any closed student record. Graduated students are not eligible for new or updated CIP codes, nor are the students who are graduating in the term the approval was received from MHEC.

Any student returning from leave in the effective or subsequent term who satisfies the curricular requirements under the new CIP code will be associated with the newly-configured CIP code.


CIP Code Definition

The Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) provides a taxonomic scheme that supports the accurate tracking and reporting of fields of study and program completions activity.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the Department of Labor (DOL) uses the CIP to build a crosswalk between the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) and the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC). The CIP-SOC crosswalk is used to identify educational programs that prepare students for different careers. Once the crosswalk is mapped to income data from BLS, the crosswalk can provide an estimate of annual income students might expect throughout their career, assuming that students pursue a career for which their education prepared them. The National Science Foundation (NSF) uses the CIP to define STEM fields of study for purposes of its data collection.

Finally, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) in the Department of Homeland Security uses the CIP to determine programs of study that are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Optional Practical Training enables students to extend their F-1 status for up to an additional three years (one year of initial OPT and two years for an OPT STEM Extension). In addition to the three examples discussed, many other state and federal agencies use the CIP for reasons beyond its initial intention.


Full Separator


Applies to all units of the University

Full Separator


Direct questions pertaining to CIP code change requests to the Office of Academic Affairs (within the Office of the Provost) or the Office of the University Registrar.

Full Separator


Date of Last Revision: 8/2/2023
Effective Date:
Related Policies/Procedures: N/A