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CIP Code Information

A Classification of Instructional Programs code, or CIP code is a six-digit code in the form of xx.xxxx that identifies instructional program disciplines. It provides a taxonomic scheme that supports the accurate tracking and reporting of fields of study and program completions activity used for tracking fields of study and program completion for institutional, state (Kentucky Council of Postsecondary Education (CPE) and federal reporting purposes (NCES website). For this reason it is important to select the CIP code that most closely identifies the content of your program.


Choosing a CIP Code

CIP code program designation is determined by the faculty in consultation with the provost's office. The faculty can search available codes (six-digits required) through the National Center for Education Statistics. Please note that CPE is currently using the 2020 CIP code options.

When choosing a CIP code, departments should keep in mind that duplicating a CIP code can be problematic and complicate program accountability. Furthermore, CPE will ask proponents of new programs to review a list of programs within the KY public institutions with the same CIP codes. When proposing a new program at WKU that matches a program with a same CIP at another institution, the proponent will have to justify the need for the similar program. See the notification of intent for additional information.



CPE defines STEM+H (science, technology, engineering, math, and health) programs by designating applicable CIP codes. Courses may be identified as STEM+H, which ties to performance funding. Those courses may apply toward programs that are assigned STEM+H CIP codes. If a STEM+H CIP code applies toward your program or courses, use it. To view a list of CIP codes categorized as STEM+H, view page 276 on the following website: http://cpe.ky.gov/policies/data/2019-20guidelines-public.pdf


Changing a CIP Code

 CPE allows programs to change CIP codes in the following circumstances:

  1. A new CIP code is available that better fits the current program requirements. The department must request approval of the new CIP code through CPE. The change must include the departmental information, a contact person, the current CIP, the proposed CIP, the rationale for the change, the impact of the change, and the current curriculum. The department head or director must approve the change along with the Dean and the Provost. The Provost’s Office will submit the change request to CPE for final approval. Utilitize the Request to Change CIP Code form to complete the process. 

  2. To meet the needs of international students, a CIP approved by the Department of Homeland Security better fits the curriculum requirements. In order to meet the needs of your international students, you must select a Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-approved CIP code from their list and request that CPE change your current CIP code to match the one approved by the DHS. Here are the steps:

Visit https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/stem-list.pdf to view the DHS-approved CIP codes and identify the new CIP code that best describes your program.

For your reference, you can visit https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/wizard/default.aspx?y=56 and enter Western Kentucky University in the Institution Search box. This shows you a list of CIP codes on programs awarded at WKU in the past 3 years. In addition, you can view a comprehensive list of CIP codes at: https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/browse.aspx?y=56.

After you have selected your desired CIP code, complete required proposal form.

The department head, dean, and Provost must sign the completed proposal.

Return the proposal to Rheanna.Plemons@wku.edu in the Provost’s Office. She will make sure it gets submitted to the correct person at CPE and will provide updates as she get them.

After CPE approves the change, the Provost’s Office will notify Information Technology and Institutional Research to make the update in WKU’s databases.

3. A program is revised to the point that a new CIP code is needed. SACSCOC and CPE have varying requirements for new program proposals. However, CPE states if a program changes to the point of requiring a new CIP code, then the new program proposal process must be followed. Furthermore, CPE policy states the following: 

Merging Programs
Two academic programs are combined into one program: The combined program will be considered a new academic program and must follow the policy and procedures related to new academic programs only if it requires a new CIP code (two-, four-, or six-digit level) to describe accurately the discipline of the combined program (CPE, 2017, p. 4). 

Separating Programs

If an existing academic program is separated into two or more academic programs: At least one of the separated programs is considered a new academic program and must follow the policy and procedures related to new academic programs. Note: The other program will not be considered a new academic program if the same CIP code remains the best disciplinary descriptor of the program (CPE, 2017, p. 4).


CIP Code Resources

National Center for Education Statistics (IPEDS) Database: Search available CIP Codes. 

CPE Kentucky Academic Program Inventory: Search by KY institution, CIP, degree, etc.to find similar programs.

Approved STEM-H Codes 

WKU Program Inventory 


Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 12/11/20