Numbers of Americans Studying Abroad Up 8.5%, China, India, Japan, South Africa, and Argentina See Strong Gains as Destinations

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 16, 2009

A record number of U.S. students are studying abroad, reflecting the value of an international academic experience as preparation to live and work in a global society. According to the Open Doors 2009 survey, the number of Americans studying abroad increased by 8.5% to 262,416 in the 2007/08 academic year. This increase builds on two decades of steady growth and represents four times as many U.S. students than in 1987/88. The Institute of International Education publishes the annual Open Doors report with support from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“Today more than ever before, study abroad can help our students understand our interconnected world and participate productively in the global economy,” said Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith A. McHale, at a briefing today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC that launched the observance of International Education Week. She added, “The State Department strongly supports study abroad through such programs as the Fulbright Program, which is sending its largest number ever of U.S. students abroad this year, and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which in two years has doubled the number of U.S. undergraduates with financial need who will study abroad.”

Open Doors 2009 shows that the number of students to nearly all of the top twenty-five destinations increased, notably to destinations less traditional for study abroad: China, Ireland, Austria and India (up about 20% each), as well as Costa Rica, Japan, Argentina and South Africa (up nearly 15% each). While the four perennial leaders in hosting U.S. students remain the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France, findings indicate that 15 of the top 25 destinations are now outside of Western Europe, and 19 are countries where English is not the primary language. Americans electing to study in Africa increased by 18%, in Asia by 17%, and in Latin America by 11%.

Data provided for this study by campus administrators for academic year 2008/09 relates to study abroad in 2007/08 and is the most recent available.

Open Doors 2009 details and analysis are available at

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) manages a range of exchanges for over 40,000 participants annually, to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Details, including overseas study opportunities for Americans, are available at and

Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, or 202-632-6437

PRN: 2009/1146