Clemson's Strategic Plan

ClemsonForward is a 10-year strategic plan grounded in Clemson’s historic strengths but focused solidly on the future and the challenges facing South Carolina, the nation and the world in the 21st century. The plan aims to ensure that Clemson fulfills its core mission and consistently ranks among the nation’s top 20 public universities and Carnegie tier-one research institutions.

ClemsonForward is built on four strategic priorities: Research, Engagement, the Academic Core and the Living environment — easily remembered by the acronym REAL.


Clemson University has made great strides in research in recent years, culminating in our distinction as a Carnegie R1: Doctoral University (highest research activity). To further build our research reputation, and in support of our faculty, the Division of Research is making additional funding opportunities available within the University. Read more at Clemson Research's R-Initiatives.

10-year aspirational targets: 2016-2026


  • Increase annual production of nationally recognized forms of scholarship by 50 percent.
  • Increase annual submission in research proposals by 80 percent to $1 billion per year.
  • Increase annual externally-funded research expenditures by 50 percent to $100 million per year.

Engagement and the Academic Core

  • Rank among the nation’s top-10 public universities in undergraduate student success, as measured by freshman-to-sophomore retention and six-year graduation rates.
  • Increase doctoral degrees awarded annually by 50 percent — to roughly 327 per year.

Living Environment

  • Enroll an undergraduate and graduate student body that is at least 25 percent non-white and 15 percent underrepresented populations (African-American, Native-American, Hispanic).
  • Double the number of all underrepresented instructional faculty members; increase from 90 to 180 overall and from 70 to at least 140 tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Other important indicators of progress

  • Volume and impact of scholarly work, creative products and national research awards.
  • Student participation in academic and global engagement and the impact of those activities on student learning.
  • Student well-being and engagement in campus life.
  • Graduate program rankings, national teaching awards, graduate and undergraduate program performance, student outcomes and student learning.
  • Alumni participation in annual giving.
  • The percent of undergraduate students who are African-American or Hispanic, COACHE survey results, Campus Climate survey results and compensation relative to market.