Office of Institutional Research

Classification of Instructional Programs Policy


Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) is a taxonomy of academic study, developed by the U.S. Department of Education, to provide consistent reporting across institutions of higher education. A CIP code consists of 6 numerical digits where the first two represent the general field of study, the next two represent a sub-field, and the final two represent a specific academic program. An example of this taxonomy is Social Studies Teacher Education: 13.1318, or 13 (Education), 13 (Teacher Education), 18 (Social Studies).


One of the uses of CIP codes is for a STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension, which allows F-1 visa holders to spend up to an additional 24 months obtaining training in their subject area. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established a list of CIP codes that they have designated as eligible for the STEM OPT extension. The current list is found here.

If you are an international student on F-1 visa and have questions about a STEM OPT extension, please contact the Office of International Students and Scholars

CIP Code Assignment

The Office of Institutional Research (OIR) is responsible for assigning CIP codes to Brown’s academic programs. When a new program is established, we use descriptive materials from the approval process to determine the code that best fits. If a CIP code assignment is not clear, OIR will reach out to the department for further clarification. The DHS STEM list is consulted to ensure that an eligible code is assigned if possible.

Academic departments that would like a CIP code change are free to request this change from OIR as long as the change is from a STEM-eligible to STEM-eligible or non-STEM-eligible to non-STEM-eligible code. In the case of switching between STEM and non-STEM, academic departments will have to go through an approval process with the College Curriculum Council (CCC) and the Graduate Council.

To see Brown's current list, please see the CIP code page.

Requesting Reclassification

Chairs or program directors wishing to have their field of study’s CIP code reclassified must petition the CCC and the Graduate Council providing a compelling rationale and accompanying evidence for why the program(s) should be re-classified. 

Proposals, which can be submitted using this form, should include:

  • One or more CIP codes from the most recent federal STEM Designated Degree Program list that would better align with the program’s course of study;
  • Evidence that the learning objectives and at least 50% of the required undergraduate courses are STEM courses, or in the case of graduate programs, degree candidates are expected to engage in STEM research (according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ definition of “STEM”); and
  • Any available information about practices at other institutions that offer the degree program based on benchmarking. 

Please consult this document for the full procedure and additional information: Procedures for Requesting Reclassification of a Degree Program’s Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Code.