The United States government has designated certain science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines as eligible for special consideration in determining visa status for F-1 international students and applicants for STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT). Programs are identified based on federal Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes developed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The list of eligible CIP codes is published by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
CIP codes at UMass Boston are assigned by the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Planning (OIRAP) consistent with guidance from NCES.
Each program is assigned the single CIP code that best represents the focus and content of the program. When a program has characteristics of more than one CIP classification, OIRAP may work with the department to determine the CIP code that most closely matches the program’s focus and content.
CIP codes are assigned to programs, not individuals. All students enrolled in or holding degrees from a given program are identified by the same CIP code, regardless of their individual course selections, thesis or dissertation foci, etc.
CIP codes are applied at the degree program (major) level and at the sub-plans (concentration/track/option) level. Sub-plans may have different CIP codes than their parent programs.
CIP codes have many uses. As described by the NCES:
The CIP is the accepted federal government statistical standard on instructional program classifications and is used in a variety of education information surveys and databases. Since it was first published in 1980, the CIP has been used by NCES in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), … other Department of Education offices, such as the Office for Civil Rights, the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, and the Office of Special Education, and serves as the standard on instructional programs for other federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Commerce (Bureau of the Census), the Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics), and others. The CIP is used by state agencies, national associations, academic institutions, and employment counseling services for collecting, reporting, and analyzing instructional program data.
Given this wide range of uses, it is important that CIP codes reflect the best overall description of a program, and are not tailored to any specific use or application.
Reviewing CIP codes
CIP codes can be reviewed to ensure their accuracy and currency. A request for review should be sent by the department head or chair to OIRAP (email@example.com), which will consult with the other offices as needed. The request should describe the rationale for change (change in program requirements, change in CIP definitions, or why a different CIP would more closely reflect program focus and content).