Batch download IPEDS survey files


Use this script to batch download Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) files. The downloaded files are not unzipped or processed in any way. This script simply saves you the trouble of having to point and click your way through the data center.

Only those files listed in ipeds_file_list.txt will be downloaded. The default behavior is to download each of the following files into their own subdirectories:

  1. Data file
  2. Dictionary file

You can also choose to download other data versions and/or program files:

  1. Data file (STATA version)
  2. STATA program file (default if you ask for STATA version data)
  3. SPSS program file
  4. SAS program file


The default behavior is to download ALL OF IPEDS. If you don’t want everything, modify ipeds_file_list.txt to include only those files that you want. Simply erase those you don’t want, keeping one file name per row.

You also have the option of whether you wish to overwrite existing files. If you do, change the overwrite option to TRUE. The default behavior is to only download files listed in ipeds_file_list.txt that have not already been downloaded.

To Run

For the default options, run the script downloadipeds.R as is. It will create subdirectories as needed to store data and program files. You may wish to place the folder in its own directory. Just make sure that ipeds_file_list.txt is in the same directory. For example, let’s say you place both files in a directory called ipeds:

|__ downloadipeds.R
|__ ipeds_file_list.txt

If you run it with the default options, two new subdirectories will be created, one for the data files and one for the dictionary files. Using the above example, your directory will look like this after it is finished:

|__ downloadipeds.R
|__ ipeds_file_list.txt
|__ /data
|   |__
|   |__
|   |__ <...>
|__ /dictionary
    |__ <...>

To download other program scripts or Stata versions of the data, change the following commands in downloadipeds.R from FALSE to TRUE:

## -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
## -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

## default
primary_data = TRUE
dictionary = TRUE

## STATA version
## (NB: downloading Stata version of data will also get Stata program files)
stata_data = FALSE

## other program files
prog_spss = FALSE
prog_sas  = FALSE

## overwrite already downloaded files
overwrite = FALSE

To change output directory, modify out_dir (default is the current directory):

## -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
## CHOOSE OUTPUT DIRECTORY (DEFAULT == '.', which is current directory)
## -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

out_dir = '.'

Data size

As of 1 April 2017, downloading all IPEDS files (setting all options to TRUE) requires approximately 1.52 GB of disk space. Granted, you probably don’t need both regular and Stata versions of the data files (which are the bulk of the directory size). Here are the approximate subdirectory file sizes if you download all data files from all years:

Subdirectory Approximate Size
./data 790.4 MB
./dictionary 17.4 MB
./sas_prog 5.2 MB
./spss_prog 5.0 MB
./stata_data 693.7 MB
./stata_prog 5.8 MB


To combine multiple IPEDS data files into a single dataset, you may find the following script useful: Combine IPEDS