where can I find a shape file for college and universities that includes their POLYGONS rather than a POINT/lat long for the US? I'm currently using tl_2015_01_arealm however it only contains 2,972 universities. I noticed this post

Shape files for Colleges/Universities?



and I've used


however both links above include the schools location/point rather than it's actual polygon. I'd greatly appreciate any help

  • Have you tried openstreetmap.org? Might be helpful, at least as a start.
    – user3856
    Feb 13, 2018 at 16:36

2 Answers 2


You can find the polygon data on OpenStreetMaps with the following tags


and perhaps also


The query would look like this

out body;
out skel qt;

Which you can paste into http://overpass-turbo.eu/ and run.

enter image description here

Zoom out and run again, to get all universities in the map view.

Each tagged object will have a multipolygon like this:

enter image description here

Click the data tab to see the data. Each object has all the geodata, as well as metadata like this:

  "tags": {
    "access": "yes",
    "amenity": "university",
    "boundary": "protected_area",
    "landuse": "forest",
    "leisure": "nature_reserve",
    "name": "Charles Lathrop Pack Demonstration Forest",
    "operator": "State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry",
    "operator:wikidata": "Q7603610",
    "operator:wikipedia": "en:State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry",
    "phone": "+1 518 623 9679",
    "protect_class": "6",
    "protection_object": "education",
    "site_ownership": "state",
    "type": "multipolygon",
    "website": "http://www.esf.edu/campuses/eec/"

Search this site or OSM forums for more details. You can also download the entire US (or world, see geofabrik) and then use osmfilter to keep the tags you want, and then use ogr2ogr to convert OSM formats to anything else (SQL, GeoJSON, etc). Here's an answer with the steps written out.


Hopefully I'm wrong, but I don't think you are going to find a dataset that conforms to what you want. Should you decide to roll your own, I would reach out to the owners of the datasets you've listed. Perhaps they do have the polygon data, or are willing to ask for it from the schools. I'm assuming the schools would be more receptive to the owners than you.
You could also start compiling your own searching locality data portals, but this is going to be incredibly time consuming and tedious.
Quick search on data.gov for "college gis" has at least one match on first page of results, and quick search on ESRI's open data portal shows one match in first page of results.

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