This post is a bit of a follow up to my prior post on the Clinical Psychology Ph.D program losing funding and (eventually) getting cut sometime in the future. From what I'm reading about public or private jobs, status as an R1 or R2 actually matters. If my university loses the R2 status (and goes down to R3), how could this affect my employment options? I'm posting about this now since my department (Psychology) was cited as the reason my university became an R2 institution in the first place due to its wide array of programs (Experimental, Clinical, I/O, and School respectively) that are slowly going to be hit.

My Master's in Experimental Psychology was sadly from a university that was not an R2 at all and fell into the "Master's programs" (R4?) despite it being a well known university in North Carolina with a good reputation and getting 80% of those who were interested in Ph.Ds their foot in the door of Ph.D programs in the first place (hence why I went there). Sadly, I can't expect to do much with it there if I left now. I also didn't learn until after the fact that many of my former advisor's graduates who did not go on or did not finish at all used their degrees. What happened to 3/5 (me included): Yoga instructor (adjunct in PSY for a bit too), broker, and pharmacy technician (who was recently hired as a full-time lecturer since my former MA program saw she didn't use her degree at all). I went on and the other one went on at an R1 and was a senior level UX designer.

What options do I have if my university is no longer an R2? My options weren't good in the first place but now it's even worse.

  • 2
    The difference between R2 and R3 status is about the amount of federally funded research rather than the number of PhD graduates per year. If your institution were to drop below the cutoff of 20 PhD's awarded per year, then it could be demoted to the Master's University classification. Commented Oct 8, 2023 at 20:56
  • @BrianBorchers I learned that recently after speaking to someone who's a chair at an R1 and dug up stats on my university for me. From what he told me, it's never going to be in danger of even going to Master's since the combination of STEM programs (by themselves) will hit that 20 Ph.D mark.
    – zzmondo1
    Commented Oct 8, 2023 at 21:26

3 Answers 3


Probably nothing happens. Note that in the Carnegie ranking system, the R1, R2, etc. rankings are about scale, not quality. R1 universities put the most resources into research, R2 somewhat less, etc.

See:https://www.tuitionrewards.com/newsroom/articles/489/understanding-the-r1-r2-r3-research-classification-at-universities-an-in-depth-analysis, for example, which makes this explicit.

Your degree won't be degraded by a change. It is what it is. If the university spends less on research it doesn't mean that the research that goes on there is bad, just that it is probably harder to do.

  • That link is super useful. Thank you!
    – zzmondo1
    Commented Oct 8, 2023 at 18:07

Generally speaking, it is reputation that matters, and status as an R2 is a proxy for that.

In the United States, decisions about classification are made by an organization called the American Council on Education, which in my opinion is not especially well known. If they change their mind about how to classify your university, then in the short term it is doubtful that many people outside the university will notice or care.

  • Yup. Unless your career goal is an academic position at a large, research-heavy institution, the R1, R2, R3, etc status will have little effect on you.
    – EA304GT
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 18:27

Given this and your previous questions, you seem to be very worried about the changing status of your university. The extent of your worries seem at least unproductive. All the time you wasted asking questions about things you cannot change could instead have been used to write a better thesis. It is too late to change university, so it's status is what it is. Focus on the future, not on choices you made in the past.

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