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3 Reasons to Attend an R1 Status Institution (Instead of R2)

Posted by Shelly Quance on 4/27/23 10:48 AM

  April 27, 2023    


Medicine, robotics, manufacturing, social science, public health, engineering, computer sciences — what do all of these industries have in common?

These fields may seem wildly different from one another, but they do share a crucial need: the need for skilled researchers.

In order to fully understand the benefits of research across industries and to establish yourself as a critical, competitive researcher in your industry, you will need to obtain a graduate degree through a nationally-recognized university that is well known for its high research activity.

In other words, you want to seek out an R1 status institution. Let’s discuss what an R1 university is (and why you should choose R1 over an R2 university).

️ Download WVU's Guide to Research-Based Graduate Programs.

What is an R1 Status Institution?

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Higher Education has classified approximately 146 U.S. institutions as having R1 status. R1 universities are at the forefront of research and innovation, and they receive federal or private funding specifically for their academic research.

At R1 institutions, research study spans the academic spectrum, engaging graduate students with research opportunities from the creative arts and humanities to the social sciences and applied sciences.

These institutions are revered at the very highest level of academic research, making them an ideal academic option for graduate students who are passionate about research and who wish to enter their field with the marketable skills needed to join a strategic research team. 

Reasons You Should Attend an R1 Status Institution

We’ve said it already: R1 status universities exist at the highest level of research activity — so, it’s clear why future leaders in research would be positively impacted by attending such an institution. But let’s discuss a few specific examples of the benefits and importance of choosing R1.

Learn more about the differences between R1 and R2 with our blog, “What is the Difference Between R1 and R2 Universities?

1. You will work with some of the top researchers and faculty in the country.

R1 institutions actually receive significantly more funding than R2 institutions. For this reason, you will encounter some of the most accomplished faculty researchers at R1 universities who are conducting groundbreaking research in their respective fields.

Having the opportunity to learn from and work with phenomenal leaders in research at an R1 university will enhance your academic experience and prepare you to impact change upon graduation from your field of study.

2. You will be challenged and mentored by driven, curious peers.

It’s a fact that R1 institutions graduate more doctoral students than any other research institution. As such, graduate students enrolled at R1 status universities can expect to network and learn with some of the brightest minds in the nation. 

By surrounding yourself with other driven, competitive, and intellectually curious graduate students, you will embrace the power of rigorous academic learning and be challenged to reach your highest potential.

3. You will emerge from the program as an accomplished, marketable researcher.

R1 institutions employ some of the world’s best research experts and recruit some of the brightest minds, and as a result, you will engage in a learning environment that is dedicated specifically to your success. 

You will emerge from your program with the marketable research skills needed to make a name for yourself in your field. You will have the tangible, transferable skills needed to stand out among an increasingly competitive professional landscape.

As a graduate student at an R1 university, you will have ample access to valuable, sought-after graduate assistantship options. Check out our “How to Become a Graduate Assistantship Guide” to learn more.

Explore the only R1 Status Institution in the State of West Virginia: West Virginia University

West Virginia University is among these R1 institutions and is well-known for its popular research-intensive programs. In fact, WVU is the only university in the state of West Virginia that holds R1 status.

The University first reached the R1 level in 2016. WVU has remained on that prestigious list ever since, as Carnegie releases assessments every three years. And in February 2022, West Virginia University announced that it had maintained its R1 status for another three years.


“It’s the graduate students that drive the research enterprise at WVU. They’re the ones doing the frontline work, the research in the labs, and the creative activity in our studios. 

At WVU, students can expect to go out and be a leading scholar in their area, and they will be on the forefront of the next generation of people who are discovering great new ideas and changing and shaping the world.’ — Dr. Fred King

Hear directly from the Vice President of Research at WVU (Dr. Fred King) in The Summit Ahead Podcast, Episode 4.

WVU Research Is focused on a wide range of areas

Here are just a few of the wide range of research areas at WVU:

  • bolstering national security and defense through work on biometrics and unmanned aerial vehicles; 

  • improving water quality; 

  • ensuring the safety of Appalachian food systems; 

  • combating the opioid crisis; 

  • studying implications of Marcellus shale drilling; 

  • fighting cystic fibrosis; 

  • helping lung cancer patients avoid hospital visits

  • measuring soils’ ability to absorb radiation; investigating West Virginia’s geothermal energy potential; 

  • using video games to help patients with nervous system trauma; 

  • waging war on childhood obesity;

  • using pulsars as a technique to look for gravitational waves;

  • solving the issue of food deserts;

  • and much more.

Join a Community of Accomplished Researchers at WVU Today

As an internationally recognized R1 institution, WVU is dedicated to fostering a community of driven, research-focused professionals who are making a positive impact across industries. West Virginia University offers many excellent graduate programs designed to prepare you for a successful career. 

For a list of current graduate-level programs, visit our graduate programs page

If you like what you see, use the easy five-step application process and let us tell you more about the opportunities that await you at West Virginia University.





Explore the benefits of research collaboration in an R1 institution with our Research Collaboration Guide!

Download the Guide




Topics: Research, Graduate Degrees in STEM, WVU Graduate Programs

Posted by Shelly Quance

Shelly Quance has spent almost 20 years working in higher education marketing communications. She currently serves as Director for West Virginia University’s Office of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment where she works collaboratively with College leadership to develop, implement, and evaluate creative and effective comprehensive communication and marketing plans to increase graduate student enrollment.


About the Blog

Deciding what graduate school to attend can be daunting at times, and navigating the admissions process can be that much more difficult. We hope to make the journey from considering graduate school to enrolling in a graduate program easier by publishing content that will be helpful to you as you discern if, when, and where, to pursue your next degree.

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