World Map of International Students

International students studying in American institutions come from a diverse array of locations, and their enrollment in American institutions is indicative of a wide range of domestic and international dynamics.

According to data from Open Doors®, during the 2016-2017 academic year, the total number of international students pursuing higher education opportunities in the United States increased by 3 percent, marking the 11th consecutive year that the number of international students studying in the United States increased. Despite some notable changes in enrollment from individual countries, the total number of international students in American colleges and universities reached a record high of 1.08 million students.

Check out some of the interesting trends presented in the interactive graph below:


(1) The number of students from China and India continues to grow.

China and India, which together account for nearly half of all international students in American higher education institutions, respectively saw 6.8 percent and 12.3 percent more students studying in the United States during the 2016-2017 academic year.

(2) There were sharp declines in enrollment for students from Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

The number of students studying in the United States from Brazil and Saudi Arabia decreased by 32.4 percent and 14.2 percent respectively. The turbulent political situation in the United States has been blamed as one possible cause for the decline, but it is more likely that this reduction in student enrollment is a result of the decision by those countries to cut funding for international scholarships. Specifically, reporting by CNN found that Saudi Arabia cut back its scholarship program that supported 200,000 students, due to pressure on the country’s budget.

(3) The steepest declines in new international enrollments were reported by postgraduate programs.

Despite an overall increase in international students attending American universities, enrollments in master’s-level institutions decreased by 20 percent as reported in a recent Open Doors Survey.

(4) International students come to the United States from diverse locations.

International students studying in the United States originate from a total of 218 countries, across six continents. The most popular places of origin for these students are China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico and Brazil. In the 2017-2018 academic year, international student enrollment increased across all major global regions, except for Latin America, South America and the Middle East & North Africa.