Are R2 universities good?

Research institutions are part of institutions that offer Doctoral degrees. Total 133 numbers of institutions are under classification of “R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity”. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher education (updated in 2021)has made this classification. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions is a system framework. Its function is to categorize colleges and Universities based on Educational and Research purposes. The Carnegie Classification of Institution of Higher Education awards more than 4,500 Universities in every Five years of interval. Doctoral universities are divided into three categories based on research activities. They are R1, R2, and R3 universities. R2 universities are those whose research capacity is lower than R1 universities.

Are R2 universities good?

About the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education

The American Council on Education (ACE) and  the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching have collaborated. This is the first occasion when the classification will be done together. The two of them will work together to make a new and better version of the Classification. It will be focused on Public Purpose, mission and impact on Higher Education.

The Carnegie Foundation has been Instrumental in describing and recognizing diversity in institutions in U.S. higher education. For the past four and half decades, they have been performing this task. The Carnegie Commission commenced its function in 1970  to develop a classification of universities and colleges. Its purpose was to support the Research program and policy analysis. Since the year of 1970, they have made required updates in 1976, 1987, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, 2018 and 2021 to assess the changes among colleges and Universities. This Carnegie Framework has been used for Higher Education purposes. It also controls institutional differences and in designing research studies it ensures to provide enough representation of sampled students, institutions and faculty.

The basis of these classifications

The following criteria on which the Universities are categorized:

a)Research and Development.

b)Research and Development expenditures in the non-science category.

c) Postdoctoral appointees and other non-faculty staff with Doctorates.

d) The conferring Doctoral in the fields of Social science, Humanities, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field and other fields like Business, social work, and education.

Deviation Between R1 AND R2 Universities

R1 Universities are classified as those that have the resources to facilitate scholarship. At the same time, they have much collaboration for Faculty and students to offer interdisciplinary research.

 R2 Universities conduct high-level Research activities. Either these Institutes have a scarcity of research facilities, or they don’t have enough people to conduct research in their respective fields. This categorization is governed by the ratio of supply and demand.

Universities attempting to Ascend their status from R2 to R1

  1. To increase their status, many public Universities follow the Post-Secondary models of Prestigious Universities. They have to attract top faculty and students to shift to R1 status from R2.
  2. R2 institutions face pressures from the outside. They adopt models from prosperous research institutions. They experience changes in their administration, professional networks and faculty in the process of shifting to R1.
  3. They face institutional similarities, and public policy compromises with the time of achieving R2 status.
  4. From 2010-to 18 the number of R1 Institutions classified by Carnegie increased by 21%.


To get the status of an R1 university, the University must fulfill some basic requirements:

# In the areas of graduate education and Research, doctoral universities must show extraordinary prolificacy.

# The University must enhance in certain areas. Like, as an increasing number of faculty, teaching assistants and student recruitment for graduate programs.

# To get the R1 classification by Carnegie Institution, resources, funding, and resultant growth data, these factors are important to fulfill. But the most important factor is the total number of actions taken together by the University to achieve this ranking.

# Student’s success rate is very important for a program’s success. The success rate is either to be reflected online or by the Faculty it has to be recognized. The student experience helps to bring more students into the university programs.

# The Quality of the relationship between the Faculty and the student plays a key factor in the accomplishment of a university.

# It’s not only the STEM Research Classification, but the involvement of the Humanities and Liberal Arts section plays a very important role. 

# The counts of Humanities doctorates coming from a University is equally important as Science and engineering doctorates.

# It becomes easier for a university to hire faculty and students when there is strong involvement from the humanities section.

# A university needs to have a partnership with Industry, other universities and the national laboratories from other neighboring states to form a great team. It will help them to form collaborative research teams. That can help them to face local, state, or national challenges.

How to Choose a Research University?

If someone is pursuing a Bachelor’s, master or doctoral degree it is very important to choose the right university. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education has been considered a very influential Institution to recognize a University’s potential.

# R1 Universities have an” extreme research activity”. Here the professors have significant involvement in research. 

# R2 Universities have “moderate Research activity”. Even though R2 universities get Doctoral status, Still the students expect the professors to be teachers first. Most courses are taught in these Universities by Professors.

# R3 Universities fall into the 3rd category. Even though it has got the Doctoral/Professional category, it can’t meet the criteria to become a research university.

A school must achieve 20 research/doctoral degrees to be considered an R1 or R2 university. They have to pay $5 in total expenditure. 

The reason for attending a research university:

#When a student attends a university they will learn through the experience of professors. Professors bring their ideas and their learning to the students in a classroom.

# Research always gives scope to be a part of something bigger than oneself.


R2 universities are meant to focus on teaching. Despite being a research university, Research is not given priority here.. So before enrolling in research universities one must ensure what they are expecting from those universities and their ranking.