CIP codes, maintained and used by the Department of Education, provide the most standard method to classify educational programs. Our program descriptions are based on these CIP codes. However, some of our data sources classify educational programs differently, and we created concordances between the methodologies with care.
The American Community Survey ACS microdata asks respondents for information about their college majors, but it collects the corresponding field of study. They categorize the responses as the field of degree. There are fewer field of degree classifications than CIP code classifications, and there is no published crosswalk that suggests which CIP codes should be mapped to each field of degree. We at Ididio have a decades of experience in higher education, and we created our own CIP-Census field of degree crosswalk. As we created this mapping, we were very aware of our purpose: to give information about what a person could expect in his or her career as a result of majoring in this field. Therefore, if fewer than 20% or fewer than 50 students completed a program with a given CIP designation at the bachelor's level in the past IPEDS reporting year, then we did not provide a mapping from that CIP code to a Census field of degree. Additionally, if there was not a reasonable correspondence, such as in the case of preparation to be an administrative assistant, we did not provide a mapping. There are many areas within the crosswalk where differing concordances could reasonably be made. In one case we collapsed two ACS degree categories, Engineering Technologies and Miscellaneous Engineering Technologies, into a single reported category: Engineering Technologies because we could not infer an appropriate division of CIP-level program descriptions between the original two categories.
The university data that we license from Peterson's provides terrific information about financial aid and faculty for graduate programs. However, they use departmental structure, which varies widely from school-to-school, rather than CIP codes to identify programs. Here again we worked to make judicious choices connecting the Peterson's course structure to the standard CIP-level classifications. Because there is no standardized approach for connecting the Petersons' program designations to CIP codes, our crosswalk would likely differ a bit from another organization's effort.