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Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP)


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Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP)

Last updated: October 12, 2023

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Schools throughout the United States and its territories offer thousands of similar programs of study, but each have their unique program names and descriptions. The U.S. Department of Education (ED), which collects and reports data about these programs of study, developed the classification of instructional programs (CIP) to:

  • Map those programs to a shared understanding of what a given program of study includes.
  • Collect data from schools on programs of study offered.
  • Create reports on educational trends for use by government and the public.

The CIP’s comprehensive list of programs are broken into related categories. Each program has a name and an individual code.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a unit in the ED, manages both the CIP and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the database that collects and tracks data on postsecondary programs of study. Every ten years, NCES updates the CIP to add, remove, and revise programs that reflect changing fields of study. NCES last updated the CIP in 2020.

Using IPEDS, every postsecondary school that receives federal student financial aid funds must use CIP codes to report their program data to the government. NCES works with the keyholder, who is the person at each school that collects program of study data. The keyholder often works in the registrar’s office or the office that handles institutional reporting. The keyholder:

  • Matches the school’s programs of study with the appropriate CIP code.
  • Completes an annual IPEDS report on behalf of the school.
  • Nominates new programs of study to NCES to add to the CIP:
    • School submits program of study nomination, if it believes none of the existing CIPs apply to a program of study they offer.
    • NCES reviews the nomination, supporting comments, and decides if the program is either:
      • A variant of an existing CIP classification.
      • A new program and may create a new CIP code for the next update.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) uses the NCES’ CIP code list for tracking programs of study for student records. When creating a student record in SEVIS, designated school officials (DSOs) select from the CIP codes to choose the nonimmigrant students’ major and minor fields of study.

CIP Codes

The Major 1 and Major 2 fields will appear on the students’ Forms I-20. (M-1 students will have a blank Major 2 field.)

Major Field

Since the school’s keyholder has already mapped the school’s programs of study to the appropriate CIP code, the DSO should also rely on the keyholder’s CIP code list. Once the CIP codes are selected and updated for the student, the Student Information page displays the CIP codes and program names in the Program section.

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For detailed instructions on selecting student CIP codes see:

SEVIS uses the following CIP codes to reflect programs of study for K-12 schools:

CIP Code



Primary School (SEVP created this code specifically for grades K-8.)


Regular/General High School/Secondary Diploma Program


College/University Preparatory and Advanced High School/Secondary Diploma Program


Vocational High School and Secondary Business/Vocational-Industrial/Occupational Diploma Program


Honors/Regents High School/Secondary Diploma Program


High School/Secondary Diploma Programs, Other


High School Equivalence Certificate Program


High School Certificate of Competence Program


Certificate of IEP Completion Program


High School/Secondary Certificate Programs, Other

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approves the CIP codes eligible for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) designated degrees. As part of the 2016 DHS Rule, “Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for Nonimmigrant Students With STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students,” DHS makes periodic updates to the STEM list in response to changes in STEM fields, academic programs, or technological trends.

Stakeholders can submit CIP code nominations for potential inclusion on or removal from the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List. Additional information about how stakeholders can nominate CIP codes is available at, under the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List and CIP Code Nomination Process header.

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For additional information about the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List and fields of study that qualify for the STEM OPT extension, please refer to:

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