Skip to main content
Visit our new News website at
Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 3:33am

'Sectors' Outline College Missions, Focus

Georgia’s state colleges and universities are now sub-divided into four different classes – “sectors,” as the University System of Georgia calls them.

The Board of Regents approved the new policy last week.

The categories – research university, comprehensive university, state university and state college – both determine and are determined by a college’s program of study, the degrees it offers and other measures.

“In a time of scarce resources, it’s important for us to think about aligning our research and our teaching and our service assets against the most-pressing needs of the state,” said Houston Davis, the USG’s chief academic officer and executive vice chancellor. He was the chief architect of the policy and the system’s related strategic plan.

“One of those aspects is thinking about each of our institutions and the role they play in advancing education and in advancing research and creativity,” Davis said.

Davis said the sector policy does not mean schools in the lower tiers get less funding or resources.

“This is not about a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers,” he said. “It really is just about, we have our existing resources. Are we being good stewards of those resources?”

Davis said these kinds of classifications are already part of the world of higher education. The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed a classification system for colleges and universities starting in 1970. And he said this kind of sector classification is not new for Georgia.

“This certainly is getting to a policy that is more prescriptive about those roles. That certainly is new within the last decade, but it is not new within the history of the university system,” Davis said.

The idea behind the classifications is to make the most use of funding, degree programs and facilities, Davis said.

“It’s staying focused on a particular niche in your region of the state or in the state as a whole.”

Descriptions of the four different classifications from the policy proposed to and approved by the Georgia Board of Regents last week:

Research Universities

Institutions classified as research universities offer a broad array of undergraduate and graduate and professional programs and are characterized as doctoral-granting with a Carnegie Classification of very high or high research activity. Associate degrees are typically not offered at research universities. While teaching is a core focus at all USG institutions, the emphasis on basic and applied research is much heavier at research universities than any other institutional sector. It is expected that institutions operating within this sector will be world-class research institutions with significant commitments to receipt of external funding, philanthropic giving, and fundraising at the highest levels.

  • Georgia Institute of Technology*
  • Georgia State University
  • University of Georgia*
  • Georgia Regents University*

Comprehensive Universities

Institutions classified as comprehensive universities offer a number of undergraduate and master’s-level programs with some doctoral programs. Typically, associate-level degrees are not offered at comprehensive universities. Graduate programs at comprehensive universities are characterized as master’s-dominant. While teaching is a core focus at all USG institutions, the emphasis on basic and applied research is heavier at comprehensive universities than state universities or state colleges, but not emphasized as heavily as research universities. It is expected that institutions within this sector will be committed to being world-class academic institutions.

  • Georgia Southern University
  • Valdosta State University
  • Kennesaw State University
  • University of West Georgia

State Universities

Institutions included in the state universities sector offer a number of undergraduate and master’s-level programs, but very few doctoral programs. Only five (designated with a ^ mark) of the ten state universities are currently approved to offer one or more doctoral programs. These five state universities’ doctorate-level academic program offeringsare characterized as limited, select doctoral programs. Associate-level degrees can be offered at these universities, but they are also typically limited. While teaching is a core focus at all USG institutions, the emphasis on research activity at these state universities includes some basic research, but is typically more focused on institutional and/or applied research.

  • Albany State University
  • Armstrong Atlantic State University ^
  • Clayton State University
  • Columbus State University ^
  • Fort Valley State University*
  • Georgia College & State University* ^
  • Georgia Southwestern State University ^
  • Savannah State University
  • Southern Polytechnic State University*
  • University of North Georgia* ^

State Colleges

Balanced Bachelor’s and Associate State Colleges

Institutions included in the balanced bachelor’s and associate-level state colleges group offer bachelor’s degrees, associate programs, and general education courses, but no graduate programs. These state colleges are characterized as balanced bachelor’s and associate-level degrees with bachelor’s programs focused on specialized academic and economic development program areas and regional, college-educated workforce needs. The emphasis at these state colleges is on teaching and service with limited focus on basic or applied research activity.

  • Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College*
  • Atlanta Metropolitan State College
  • College of Coastal Georgia*
  • Dalton State College
  • Georgia Gwinnett College*
  • Gordon State College
  • Middle Georgia State College

Associate Dominant-Select Bachelor’s State Colleges

Institutions included in the associate dominant state colleges group are characterized as offering associate-dominant programs and general education courses, with very few, select, professionally oriented bachelor’s degree programs. The select bachelor’s programs are focused on specialized academic and economic development program areas and regional, college-educated workforce needs. The emphasis at these state colleges is on teaching and service with limited focus on basic or applied research.

  • Bainbridge State College
  • Darton State College
  • East Georgia State College
  • Georgia Highlands College
  • Georgia Perimeter College
  • South Georgia State College

*The institutions below carry a specialized function and mission within the USG:

Georgia Institute of Technology -- Georgia Tech is the state’s designated technological research institution

Georgia Regents University -- GRU serves as the state’s only dedicated health sciences/medical college

University of Georgia -- UGA is Georgia’s land-grant institution established by the Morrill Act of 1862, and also was designated by the Hatch Act in 1887 to establish an agricultural experiment station

Georgia College & State University -- GC&SU is the state’s designated public liberal arts institution

University of North Georgia -- UNG is Georgia’s designated Military College

Fort Valley State University -- FVSU is the state’s only 1890 designated land grant institution

Southern Polytechnic State University -- SPSU is the state’s designated technological state university

Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College -- ABAC is Georgia’s designated agricultural state college

College of Coastal Georgia -- CCG was designated by the Board in 2009 to become a college of choice for Georgia residents and provide expanded baccalaureate degree offerings in this region of the state

Georgia Gwinnett College -- GGC was established by the Board to provide access to targeted baccalaureate level degrees that meet the economic development needs of the growing and diverse population of the northeast Atlanta metropolitan region. It is the only state college that offers exclusively bachelor’s degrees.

Related Articles