Today, three CSU campuses, long classified as large master’s universities, are considered doctoral institutions by the leading national classification of U.S. colleges and universities.

Fresno State, CSU Fullerton and San Francisco State were reclassified as a doctoral university in the 2015 edition of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education rankings system, which identifies American institutions of higher education for comparisons.

This change occurs when a university graduates more than 20 doctoral degrees per year, a figure that the Fresno, San Francisco and Fullerton campuses have exceeded in recent years. The three join San Diego State, which was previously the only CSU campus to be categorized as a doctoral university.

“The new Carnegie designations are a testament to the CSU’s quality doctoral programs, which continue to advance under the leadership of outstanding faculty,” said Loren Blanchard, CSU executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. “The CSU’s doctoral graduates go on to improve evidence-based practice in professional fields and stimulate innovation and economic growth in California.”

The grouping of colleges by Carnegie is significant because the framework is widely used in the study of higher education as a way to identify institutional differences. The classifications serve as a foundation for generating external benchmarks for understanding an institution’s current standing and to pinpoint key areas for attention and guide policy development.

In 2005, the CSU marked a significant educational milestone when it broadened its degree offerings to include independent doctoral degrees. Before 2005, state law required CSU doctorates to be offered in partnership with a UC campus or other California doctoral institution. The CSU now offers Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs. A limited number of other doctoral programs, including Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees, are offered jointly with the University of California and private institutions in California. In 2014-15, the CSU granted 459 doctoral degrees.

The Carnegie rankings date back to the 1970s and are now issued by Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research. The classifications are updated every five years based on information from the Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS).