Record High Numbers: U.S. Study Abroad and International Education

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 16, 2015

The annual Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released November 16, 2015, reports that the number of international students at institutions of higher education in the United States increased by 10 percent to a record 974,926 students in the 2014/15 academic year, while the number of U.S. students studying abroad expanded by 5.2 percent to an all-time high of 304,467 in 2013/14.

  • The 10 percent increase in the number of international students in the United States represents the highest rate of growth in 35 years. Increases were reported in 44 states.
  • This year marks the highest rate of growth in U.S. study abroad in seven years, at 5.2%. Last year, U.S. study abroad increased by 2.1%.
  • Students majoring in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields represent the largest proportion of U.S. students studying abroad at 22.6%, though STEM fields remain underrepresented according to their overall proportion in U.S. higher education. Students are increasing their engagement in non-credit work, internships, and volunteering abroad.
  • The racial and ethnic diversity of U.S. students abroad has increased over the past ten years. The proportion who identify as racial and ethnic minorities increased from 16.3% in 2003/04 to 25.7% in 2013/14.
  • International students’ spending in all 50 states contributed more than $30 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014, an increase of more than $3 billion since 2013.
  • Latin America & the Caribbean was the fastest growing region of origin for international students in the United States, increasing by 19.4% over the prior year. Substantial growth was also seen from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • At 4.8%, international students still make up less than 5%of all higher education students in the United States.

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