Fresno State has been 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.

The California State University announced the reclassification this week for Fresno State and two other CSU campuses: San Francisco and Fullerton.

The reclassification occurs when a university graduates more than 20 doctoral degrees per year, a figure that the three CSU campuses have exceeded in recent years.

The three join San Diego State University, which was previously the only CSU campus to be categorized as a doctoral university.

Before 2005, state law required CSU doctorates to be offered in partnership with a University of California 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.

Fresno State has 216 doctoral students enrolled in the three programs.

In the 2014-15 academic year, Fresno State graduated 80 doctoral students with 23 in educational leadership, 25 in nursing practice and 32 in physical therapy.

In June, Fresno State and CSU Channel Islands will partner to launch the first online doctoral program in educational leadership in the CSU system, said Dr. James E. Marshall, interim dean of the Division of Graduate Studies.

“This designation is a testament to the meaning, quality and integrity of the graduate degrees we offer at Fresno State,” Marshall said.

Dr. Joseph I. Castro, Fresno State president, said this change in the national designation of Fresno State as a doctoral university is an important milestone for the University and the region.

“This is additional evidence of the bold rise of our academic programs and of our ability to better serve the needs of the Valley and beyond,” Castro said.

Loren Blanchard, CSU executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, said the new Carnegie designations are a testament to the CSU’s quality doctoral programs and the leadership of outstanding faculty.

“The CSU’s doctoral graduates go on to improve evidence-based practice in professional fields and stimulate innovation and economic growth in California,” Blanchard said.

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.

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.

See the full CSU press release.