Geospatial Analysis in Higher Education Research

  • Nicholas W. HillmanEmail author
Part of the Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research book series (HATR, volume 32)


Geography offers a useful but under-utilized lens to examine a number of topics within the field of higher education. This chapter presents examples where geospatial analysis is applied to higher education contexts, and the chapter’s goal is to encourage researchers to expand, extend, and critique how geography can be more useful to the field. Through examples and illustrations, it introduces readers to a wide range of techniques for conducting geospatial analysis including descriptive maps, geostatistics, and distance elasticity. It also highlights how geography can be useful in designing quasi-experimental studies and for building upon theories of college choice. The chapter discusses a number of georeferenced data sources that can be merged with existing higher education databases to integrate geography more systematically into higher education research. It concludes with reflections on how the field of higher education can continue to incorporate geography and geospatial analysis into its scholarship. Doing so can generate new knowledge about the causes and consequences of educational inequality, while also developing new theories and lines of inquiry that have not yet been fully explored.


Geography Geospatial analysis College choice Educational opportunity Maps Economic development College supply Higher education policy 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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