What is a CIP code?

Schools throughout the United States offer thousands of similar programs of study, but each has its unique program names and descriptions. The U.S. Department of Education developed the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) to map those programs to a shared set of program titles, descriptions, and codes.

Every major and course at OSU is assigned a CIP code that represents the focus and content of the program. The assignment is based on the approved curriculum, its focus and purpose, and the program learning outcomes. The Curriculum Management office consults the Federal CIP code taxonomy and the descriptions associated with CIP codes to determine the closest match, then consults with the unit offering the program before finalizing the code.

CIP codes are used by federal and state agencies as well as the University for collecting, reporting, and analyzing instructional program data. In addition, CIP codes are important administratively for federal financial aid and visas for international students.

List of OSU majors, CIP codes, and STEM CIP codes

CIP codes and STEM designation

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The United States government designates certain STEM disciplines as eligible for special consideration in determining visa status for F-1 international students and applicants for STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT). These disciplines are identified by their CIP code.

A STEM OPT Extension may allow an international student studying a qualifying STEM major to receive up to 24 months of employment authorization. The major must have an approved STEM CIP code identified by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Contact the Office of International Services for more information about these extensions.

Changing to a new CIP code

CIP codes generally don’t change much; however, every 10 years the U.S. Department of Education releases new CIP codes and periodically DHS updates the list of STEM CIP codes. Either of these or significant changes to a program's curriculum may be reason to review the CIP code.

Programs interested in pursing a new CIP code should review their learning outcomes and the details on this page then reach out to the Curriculum Management office with questions. The Curriculum Management office may initiate contact with academic units if they believe a CIP code adjustment is necessary.

In the case where curricular changes are necessary before the change in CIP code can be considered, the curricular changes should be made first, then submitted as a proposal for a CIP code change.

Changing to a STEM CIP Code

To change a STEM CIP code, the program must demonstrate that 50% or more of the program content and associated learning outcomes are grounded in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The evidence for this is found in the program learning outcomes and the curricular requirements.

Changing a NON-STEM CIP code

Updating the CIP code isn't limited to STEM programs. Programs with standard CIP codes may want to update their CIP because of significant changes to the program's curriculum or because the U.S. Department of Education created a new CIP that is a better fit.

Submitting a proposal

Requesting a CIP code change requires submitting a “CIP Code Change” proposal in CIM Miscellaneous Requests.

Select “CIP Code Change” under the Request Type.  

The proposal requires the originator to describe the rationale for the change and why a different CIP is a better fit.

The proposal follows this approval process:

  • Curriculum Management
  • Catalog Coordinator
  • College Dean Designee
  • Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School
  • Office of International Services
  • Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
  • Provost Designee (currently the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs)

Implementation timeline

CIP code change proposals may be submitted at any time, but the change will not be applied to the program until summer term (start of the next academic year). Proposals approved by May 1 take effect the next academic year.


Questions? Contact [email protected]