Tier One.

The biggest obstacle that obstructs the University of Texas at Arlington on it’s path to Tier One status is it’s preoccupation for such a title to begin with.

To begin, let’s go over the prerequisites for being a Tier One University.


What it Takes

“Tier One” refers to a specific designation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Until recently, the Carnegie Foundation used to group and rank universities based on the highest level of education they endow and the amount of research they participate in. Going even further, universities who graduate doctoral candidates are held to strict guidelines that include:

  • Research dollars spent on science and engineering.
  • Research dollars spent on non-science and engineering fields
  • Science and Engineering research staff, include post-doctoral appointees.

So if a university spends money on research, graduates and retains doctoral candidates in STEM ( science, tech, engineering and math) subjects and humanities subjects ( arts, business, public policy and social work), they will be placed on a chart and grouped anywhere from R1 to R3. This is where Tier One comes in, officially known as: R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity.

Now these are the baseline requirements. Each university has their own idea of what it needs to do along with aspects the committee examines like graduation and retention rates.

t1
There are about 9 more confusing graphs like this that make up a composite on about every U.S. university.

The Problem

The university has been obsessing over this goal for the past 10 years, atleast. Because of the previous lack of Tier One universities in Texas (Rice, A&M and UT Austin), the state of Texas established a fund to award to those universities chasing Tier One status. The results were effective, as four Texas schools found themselves reclassified as R1 research universities this past year – UT Arlington included.

That means the job is done, and we can all go home, right? Well due to the ambiguous nature of the announcement and murky prerequisites, the university community doesn’t know whether to celebrate or continue scratching their heads.

Another issue is the that the Carnegie Foundation doesn’t even award Tier One status anymore. That’s right; In 2014 the Foundation gave up the program and lent it’s namesake to the Center for Postsecondary Research of the Indiana University School of Education. The program has lost a bit of it’s luster now that it’s no longer a part of the Carnegie foundation and didn’t even release a list in 2015.


All of this combined is why the university shouldn’t even worry about Tier One designation – it already has it. And it’s not even important anymore. What is important is the record growth the school experienced in it’s pursuit of the designation.

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4 thoughts on “Tier One.

  1. This is an extremely well-thought out post and I’m very impressed with how you organized it. I definitely did not know UTA was considered a tier one school. I guess I should have done more thorough research. I really like how you included a visual graphic to demonstrate what you’re talking about. The only problem is that I can’t read it very well. It’s very well-written. Good job!

  2. Good stuff and well researched. The problems I’m having are the readability of your chart and it feels like it took a long time to get to your point. You mention it briefly in the first sentence, but give very little else. Then you got into what Tier 1 is. For some reason, I had trouble reading that part and wanted to skip straight to the problem. It may be that I knew what Tier 1 is, or that I got no sleep last night.

    1. Good Job! I really liked reading your blog, I was impressed at the fact of learning that UT Arlington is already a Tier one University. I did not know this, the research you provided really helps the reader understand your point of what it takes to be a Tier one University, why UT Arlington already is one and why it has not been officially declared one. You broke down all your thoughts and facts very well, it was easy for me to read and understand. Good Job!

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