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The National Center for Education Statistics designed the Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code "to provide a taxonomic scheme that will support the accurate tracking, assessment, and reporting of fields of study and program completions activity." Started in 1980, CIP-2000 is the third revision of the taxonomy. It includes an updated taxonomy of instructional program classifications and descriptions.
Generally the CIP code is simply an identifier for statistical studies on the types and numbers of programs or students in those programs. An accurate CIP code may be important to policy makers but seldom has an impact on an individual. Sometimes, however, important decisions depend on the code. For example, if a program title is vague, students can verify that they have met required content in a specific discipline if the program's CIP code is in that discipline.
There is an elaborate network behind the codes that indicates the costs of the program, the range of wages that graduates typically make, and other financial data. The Formula Funding plan before the University of Missouri Curators, for example, includes the CIP code as part of the formula for funding each campus. Some states even fund universities' programs according to the CIP codes.
Because of these implications, it is recommended that faculty discuss any proposed changes in the CIP code with Academic Affairs.