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US Higher Education Statistics: About US Higher Education Statistics

Provides a guide to statistics on higher education in the United States.

Integrated Postsecondary Data System

Many of the statistical datasets on US higher education that are available in the Data Planet repository are drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS) of the National Center for Education Statistics. IPEDS involves annual institution-level data collections. All postsecondary institutions that participate in federal programs providing financial assistance to students are required to report data using a web-based data collection system. Applications and admissions information is NOT collected from institutions with an open admissions policy. IPEDS provides basic data needed to describe and analyze trends in postsecondary education in the United States, in terms of the numbers of students enrolled, staff employed, dollars expended, and degrees earned. 

Source: National Center for Education Statistics. Integrated Postsecondary Data System. Accessed July 15, 2020,


Other Datasets Relevant to US Higher Education

National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development Expenditures Survey (HERD): The HERD survey is the primary source of information on research and development (R&D) expenditures at United States colleges and universities. The dataset provides statistics on source of funds and R&D expenditures by field of research at US universities and colleges. 

National Center for Education Statistics Academic Library Statistics: The data are collected through the Academic Libraries Survey, a voluntary survey of approximately 3,700 degree-granting postsecondary institutions conducted biennially by the NCES as part of its Library Statistics Program.The dataset summarizes services, staff, collections, and expenditures of academic libraries in 2- and 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the 50 United States and Washington, DC. 

Office of Postsecondary Education College Athletics : Any coeducational postsecondary institution in the United States that participates in the federal student financial assistance programs and has an intercollegiate athletic program is required by the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20 USC 1092(g) (also known as the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act [EADA]), to participate in the annual EADA data collection. Through this survey, data are collected by the US Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education on athletic participation, staffing, and revenues and expenses, by men's, women's, and coed varsity teams. 

US Higher Education Statistics: DataSheet Examples

Clink on the links below to view sample DataSheets from Data Planet Statistical Datasets. The indicators are just a sampling to give you an idea of the granularity of the available data. There are many more indicators on this topic in the repository - add search terms for race/ethnicity, states, counties, and more, or contact your library staff for help in formulating your search strategy. Log in to explore!

Total Admitted - Shows the trend in applicants who have been granted an official offer to enroll in a postsecondary institution.

Total Enrollment - Shows the trend in total enrollment at Los Angeles Pierce College in California.

Part-Time Enrollment - Presents a trend in enrollment of part-time students at Pima Community College in Arizona.

Master's Degrees Conferred - Ranks Pennsylvania postsecondary institutions by number of master's degrees awarded in 2018.

Nonresident Alien Enrollment - Shows trend in number of nonresident aliens enrolled in Texas, California, and New York postsecondary institutions.

Salary Outlays - All Faculty  - Compares salary outlays for male vs female faculty at postsecondary institutions in Maine. 

Graduate Assistants - Shows the trend in the numbers of research vs teaching graduate assistants at Utah colleges.

Degree Completion within 6 Years - Shows the trend in the numbers of Hispanic vs white non-Hispanic college students who complete their degree within 6 years.

Institutional Finance - Shows the trend in net scholarships and fellowships expenses at the University of Vermont.

Financial Aid - Shows the trend in the average amount of financial aid received by undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

SAT Test Scores - Ranks the top 15 US institutions by 75th percentile score for incoming students on the critical reading portion of the SAT.

ACT Test Scores - Ranks the top 15 institutions by 75th percentile score for incoming students on the math portion of the ACT.

Sample Data: Bachelor Degrees Conferred

Introducing Data Planet

About the NCES

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity in the United States for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the US and other nations. NCES is located within the US Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. The NCES fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of US education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally. The NCES is one of four centers (along with the National Center for Education Research, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, and the National Center for Special Education Research) charged with carrying out the work of the Institute of Education Sciences.

Data Planet



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American Community Survey: Education Statistics

The American Community Survey also is a great source of data on education in the United States. The American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the United States Census Bureau provides estimates of the characteristics of the population over a specific time period. The ACS collects data from the 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, where it is called the Puerto Rico Community Survey. For more information, see American Community Survey, 5-Year Estimates. Below is a sampling of DataSheets related to education in the US:

B15011. Sex by Age by Field of Bachelor's Degree for First Major for the Population 25 Years and Over - compares numbers of males and females with a degree in education in Autauga County, Alabama.

B14006. Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months by School Enrollment by Level of School for the Population 3 Years and Over - compares the numbers of undergraduates enrolled in college whose income is below vs at or above the poverty level in Louisiana and Mississippi.

B15002Sex by Educational Attainment for the Population 25 Years and Over - maps US states by number of females  who have doctorates.

B15003. Educational Attainment for the Population 25 Years and Over - ranks top 10 counties in Oregon by numbers of persons age 25 and over who have master's degrees.

B17003. Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months of Individuals by Sex by Educational Attainment - shows a heat map of US states of numbers of males with a bachelor's degree (or higher) whose income is below the poverty level.

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