I was wondering if anyone has ever found shape files for all colleges/universities (both 2 and 4 years) in the United States.

The closest thing I've found so far is the 2015 TIGER U.S. Census AREALM shape file which includes the vast majority of colleges/universities but leaves out some smaller colleges, community colleges, and university branches (i.e. North Lake College (TX), College of the Sequoias (CA), and Florida State University - Panama City (FL), etc.)

  • i can't find AREALM searching census.gov, except for two random returns that don't say much. where are they located?
    – albert
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 4:31
  • 1
    @albert ftp2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2015/AREALM
    – ultimate8
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 13:45
  • AREALM refers to the polygon Census Landmarks file. It consists of large features (could be buildings, greenspace, airports, etc) that are used for orientation by census enumerators. It's representative of these features for base mapping, but not all inclusive.
    – fdonnelly
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 15:50
  • See also gis.stackexchange.com/q/90108/18189
    – dbaston
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 16:56
  • I'm skeptical that this data exists as polygons. Universities are often complex organizations with diverse property holdings. For example, I work for Northwestern University, which has two campuses in Illinois, one campus in Doha, Qatar, and presences-smaller-than-campuses in two other US cities. And even in Evanston, where the main campus is located, there are University facilities in several places outside what is conventionally thought of as "campus". Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 18:33

2 Answers 2


Here's the most complete source I know, published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It's just points though. Here's the same dataset with an API and the online map on OpenDataSoft (which I work for - DISCLAIMER).

Hope it'll help :)

Higher Education in Virginia (yet another only points file)


Do you need polygons or could you live with points? You could use the USGS Geographic Names Information System - it includes colleges and universities, and in many cases the location of individual campus buildings.

For an example of what you would get, you can search here: http://geonames.usgs.gov/apex/f?p=gnispq

And to download delimited text files in bulk: http://geonames.usgs.gov/domestic/download_data.htm

It would take some work to parse the college and universities out, but there is a feature class field that designates Schools which you could use as a filter.

One shortcoming - as of Oct 2014 due to budget cuts, they're not going to systematically maintain and update the list of features that are cultural or part of the built environment (buildings and structures), but are switching to a more periodic revision cycle.

  • I found the USGS shapefile and loaded it but found out that it was points and not polygons which is what I'm after
    – ultimate8
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 20:52

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