If you ask the average person how many colleges there are in the US, the answer you get will depend on who that person is: If they work at the Wall Stree Journal or New York Times, they might say, "No more than 20." If you ask someone who thinks in terms of traditional post-secondary options where there is a campus quad and residence halls, you might hear "about a thousand."
But how many are there, really? Now you might get close to the answer. And, of course, the answer will depend on your definition.
For Fall, 2019, IPEDS lists 6,527 post-secondary institutions in the US. There are more, but not every college in the US has to report to IPEDS. If an institution doesn't administer Title IV aid, it can operate without reporting data to the government. But the vast majority are there and ready for you to explore.
This visualization is pretty simple: Two charts, one at the bottom which is static and shows the full 6,527 as a constant; and one at the top that changes as you make your selections along the right. Choose only four-year publics, for instance, and you'll see there are just over 800. Add in two-year publics, and the number goes to 1,755. The filters work in combination with each other, so you can get as granular as you'd like.
You can also split the view by using the control at the top. Once you select the 1,685 four-year private colleges and universities, you can see where they are located by selecting "region" in the top control.
Play to your heart's content. Reset using one of the left-pointing arrows.
And as always, let me know what you see.
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