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Study abroad statistics

Facts & figures on U.S. students abroad and international students in the U.S.

U.S. Students studying abroad

• In 2007/08, about 262,000 American students studied abroad in foreign countries. This is an 8.5% increase in participants from the previous year. Ten years ago, approximately 114,000 took part in such programs abroad. That represents a nearly 130% increase in study abroad participation over the last decade.

• Several students study in English-speaking countries, with the UK (33,300 students), Australia (11,000 students) and Ireland (6900) landing in the top 10 study abroad destinations. Other countries in the top 10 are Italy, Spain, France, China, Mexico, Germany and Costa Rica. The # 11 Japan (5700 students) had about 400 fewer study abroad participants than Costa Rica.

• Around 36% of study abroad participants go abroad during their junior year. That means that 64% go abroad at some other time during their studies. While the junior year continues to be the most popular single time to go abroad, increasing numbers of participants choose to study abroad at another point in their education.

• More women study abroad than men. About 65% of participants each year are female, 35% male.

• About 40% of those studying abroad do so for a semester or a quarter. The majority of study abroad participants choose to study abroad for 8 weeks or less (56%), either sometime during the academic year, a January intersession, or in the summer. Only 4% of those studying abroad go for a whole academic year, down from 14% over ten years ago. While just a decade ago only about 2% of students participated in study abroad programs that lasted less than 8 weeks, today a program of less than 2 months in duration is the norm. Thus, while more and more students are studying abroad, they are doing so for a much shorter time period.

• Only 6.2% of students studying abroad are foreign language majors. A greater number of students have majors in social sciences, business fields, humanities, the arts and physical or life sciences.

International students studying in the US

• Over 672,000 international students were enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges in 2008/09.

• After leveling off between 2001 and 2007, the number of international students in U.S. higher education saw significant increases in 2007/08 (7% over the previous year) and 2008/09 (8% over the previous year).

• Nearly half of all U.S. international students come from one of 5 countries: India, China, South Korea, Canada, and Japan. Students from Asia make up 57% of the enrolled international students in the U.S.

• In 2008/09, international students spent $17.8 billion in the U.S., most of which derived from sources outside of the U.S.

• The University of Southern California enrolls more international students each year than any other U.S. university. In 2008/09, nearly 7500 students from other countries studied at USC. New York University and Columbia University each hosted about 6700 international students.

• The U.S. states that attract the most international students are California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, and Florida.

• The most popular fields of study for students from abroad are in business and engineering fields. These account for 38% of declard majors of international students. Several students also had declared majors in the physical and life sciences (9.2%), social sciences (8.5%) and mathematics and computer science (8.4%).

For study abroad data tables, see the OpenDoors 2009 report.
Source: Open Doors 2009: U.S. Students Studying Abroad and Open Doors 2009: International Students in United States. IIENetwork.

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