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ACU moves up to doctoral tier in latest Carnegie classifications

Abilene Christian University earned Doctoral/Professional University status, as determined by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education in its latest update, released Dec. 15.

The Doctoral/Professional University classification (also known as R3) includes institutions that award at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees each year. ACU had previously been part of the Master’s Colleges and Universities category.

“The move to R3 classification recognizes our growing focus on research and our increased presence in graduate education,” said Dr. Phil Schubert, ACU president. “We look forward to new challenges and opportunities in this new peer group, and I believe we are well positioned to succeed as a research institution while maintaining our focus on quality teaching as we educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world.”

ACU comprises seven schools and colleges and offers 79 baccalaureate majors, 35 master’s degree programs and four doctoral degree programs. In 2021, the university awarded more than 150 doctoral degrees. 

“Our faculty involvement in research is steadily increasing, which is a significant part of our move to a higher, more prestigious classification,” said Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost. “Students, both graduate and undergraduate, work alongside faculty in that research, and that’s a distinctive trait we’re proud of at ACU.”

Last year, Dr. Rusty Kruzelock joined ACU’s administration as the inaugural vice president for research.

“This new Carnegie designation reflects forward movement in our research program and in the higher education community,” Kruzelock said. “Advancing our research involvement is a key part of preparing students to face new challenges, create new knowledge and be fully prepared for future careers.”

The Carnegie Classification categorizes all accredited, degree-granting institutions in the U.S. Carnegie updates the classifications every three years, and the newly released list is under a six-week public review period before becoming official by the end of January 2022. View the full list of institutions at

Learn more about student research opportunities at

— Wendy Kilmer

Dec. 20, 2022

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