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U.S. Higher Education Statistics: About U.S. Higher Education Statistics

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

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

Many of the statistical datasets on U.S. higher education that are available in the Data Planet repository are drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). 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, comprising of three collection periods each year. 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 November 27, 2022,

Other Datasets Relevant to U.S. Higher Education

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 the District of Columbia.

Office of Postsecondary Education's 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 U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education on athletic participation, staffing, and revenues and expenses, by men's, women's, and coed varsity teams. 

U.S. Higher Education Statistics: DataSheet Examples

Click on the links below to view sample DataSheets from Data Planet. 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 further explore!

Trend Views
  • Total Admitted - Shows the trend in applicants who have been granted an official offer to enroll in a postsecondary institution.
  • Total Enrollment - Offers a comparison of the trends in total enrollment at University of California Berkeley and at University of California Los Angeles from 2010 onwards.
  • Graduate Assistants - Shows the trend in the numbers of research vs. teaching graduate assistants at colleges in Delaware.
Map Views
  • Part-Time Enrollment - Provides a shaded map with the enrollment numbers of part-time students across the United States and its territories in 2020.
  • Financial Aid - Shows the average amount of financial aid received by undergraduates in various postsecondary institutions in Utah in 2020.
  • Institutional Finance - Shows the total state grant amounts across the United States in 2020.
Rank Views
  • Master's Degrees Conferred - Ranks Pennsylvania's postsecondary institutions by number of master's degrees awarded in 2021.
  • SAT Test Scores - Ranks the top 20 U.S. institutions by the number of first-time degree/certificate-seeking students who submitted their SAT scores in 2020.
  • Nonresident Alien Enrollment - Ranks the top 15 U.S. institutions with the highest number of nonresident aliens enrolled.

Sample Data Embed: Bachelor Degrees Conferred in 2021

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 U.S. and other nations. NCES is located within the U.S. 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 U.S. 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, the District of Columbia, 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 United States:

  • 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 U.S. 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 U.S. states of numbers of males with a bachelor's degree (or higher) whose income is below the poverty level.
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