Samford University has become Birmingham's second national research university and the only private national research university in Alabama, based on new classifications by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.
Samford is now a doctoral/research university. Public institutions in Alabama included in this category are the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the University of Alabama at Huntsville and Auburn University. Universities in this category are further classified based on the amount of research activity and number of degrees granted.
"This represents an important milestone for Samford University," said President Andrew Westmoreland. "To be officially classified among the nation's great universities further recognizes the quality of teaching, learning and scholarship that have been Samford hallmarks for decades.
"At the same time, we remain committed to providing a strong undergraduate liberal arts-based education."
Last year, Samford awarded more than 450 doctoral and professional degrees in divinity, education, law and pharmacy. Samford also is recognized for its active and growing undergraduate research program.
Since 1970 the Carnegie Classifications have been the standard used by higher education to classify accredited institutions. The system is used in the study of higher education, both as a way to demonstrate institutional differences and as a research guide to ensure adequate representation of institutions by size and scope, according to Sarah C. Latham, Samford's assistant to the president who oversees the office of institutional effectiveness. Samford's reclassification will influence how the university is perceived nationally and also will affect rankings, such as those published by U.S. News & World Report.
For 17 consecutive years, Samford was ranked in the top 10 in its previous classification – master's universities in the South, a classification ranked regionally. Samford was one of 18 masters-level institutions moved into the national category based on the new Carnegie classifications.