For many international students looking to complete their studies outside of their country of origin, the U.S. has long been at the top of the list.
Compared to the next-most popular destination for foreign students, the U.S. hosts nearly twice as many visiting college students, as per 2020 data from the Institute of International Education (IIE).
Over 1 million international students studied in the U.S. during the 2019–2020 academic year.
In comparison to the early post-war years, this is a very significant figure that has significantly increased. In actuality, there were 26,400 international students during the 1949–50 academic year.
In this article, we will examine the trends over time to analyze this data thoroughly. We will also make an effort to comprehend the countries that these students are from as well as how this data has changed over time.
Let’s explore the interesting facts.
International Students In The US: (General Stats)
- It is reported that in 2021-22, the number of international students in the U.S. was 948,519.
- Similarly, the total number of students in the U.S. in the year 2019-2020 was 1,075,496.
- According to the data from 2022, 54% of international students majored in STEM fields.
- Approximately 1,075,496 international students attended American universities in the 2019–2020 academic year, making up 4.6% of all enrolled students in the country.
- International students make up 5.5% of the total US higher education population.
- Around 710,000 international students were enrolled in higher education in the US in 2020-2021.
- The region with the highest number of international students enrolled in US colleges and universities for the past 40 years is Asia.
- The majority of foreign students studying in the United States come from China and India, making up 50% of all students from other countries.
- There are about 200 different countries sending students to study in the US.
- On student visas like the F visa and M visa, the majority of international students are admitted to colleges, universities, high schools, and elementary schools (for those attending vocational programs).
- For graduates who wish to stay in the United States after graduation, the fact that these are “nonimmigrant” visas, which do not offer a direct path to permanent residency, poses significant challenges.
- While studying in the US, international students significantly contribute to their home countries, strengthening the local economy and maintaining American jobs.
- The most significant number of international students is seen in New York, California as well as in Texas.
- Regularly paying full tuition rates, international students generate significant funds that lower the cost of attendance for domestic students.
- It is stated that international graduates and students are competitive to the STEM working method and future industries.
- STEM programs are attended by about half of the foreign students studying in the United States.
- According to the research, after the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a massive decline in international enrollments in the U.S.
- At American universities, there were 914,095 international students overall in 2020–2021 compared to 1,075,496 in 2019–2020, a 15% decrease.
- In that time, there was a 45.6% decrease in the number of new international students enrolling in American universities.
- China and India, which continue to be the two countries that send the most foreign students to the United States, respectively, sent 14.8% and 13.2% fewer students during that time.
Number Of International Students In The U.S
- In 2021-22 there are 763,760 international students enrolled in higher education in the U.S.
- The total number of international students represents around 4.6% of the nearly 20 million college students in the U.S in 2020-21.
Following is the detailed number of international students in the United States over the years.
|Year||Number of International Students in the US|
- More than 1 million foreign students were enrolled in American universities in the five years prior to the arrival of COVID-19.
- With slightly more than 1,095,000 students, 2018 saw the highest number of international students ever. About 872,000 students were enrolled in this, and 223,000 completed the optional practical training.
- Since the oldest data in 1950, the number of international students has increased steadily, with relatively short dips in the early 1970s, the middle of the 2000s, and 2020.
Following are the student enrollment trends year-wise:
Country-Wise Number Of International Students In The U.S
- China is the top country in the world for this metric in 2019/2020. In the most recent academic year, the United States hosted 372,532 Chinese students.
- India comes in second with 193,124. Together, the first two countries account for more than half of all international students.
Following is the country-wise overview of the number of international students studying in the U.S. in 2021-22.
|Sr.No||Country||Number of International Students|
Enrollment stats: Country wise
- Asia has students enrolled in American universities and colleges. But from 30% of all international students in 1980 to 70% of all international students in 2020, the proportion of Asian students has grown dramatically.
- With this increase, the number of Asian students studying in the United States will be more in line with global population figures; Asia is home to about 60% of the world’s population.
- Particularly noteworthy among the Asian nations are China and India. The number of Chinese students attending American colleges increased more than five times in the ten years between 2005 and 2015.
- In the year 2020-2021, 43% of international students were from East Asia i.e. around 400,000 students.
- Around 27% of the international students were from South, Southeast, and Central Asia. (250,000 students)
- Fewer than 8% of international students came from Central and South America, 7% from Europe, 6% from the Middle East and North Africa, and 4% from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Number Of International Students In The US: Institute Wise
- New York University has 195,431 international students enrolled, making it the college with the largest population of international students from 2004 to 2021.
- 186,873 foreign students have enrolled at the University of Southern California. This ranks as the second-highest total of foreign students attending a US college.
- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has 163,078 international students enrolled.
- Between 2004 and 2021, Purdue University – West Lafayette, University of California – Los Angeles, and Arizona State University – Tempe collectively enrolled about 140,000 foreign students.
- While the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor has 116,456 international students enrolled, Boston University has 121,276 international students, placing the two universities close to the bottom of the list.
- The lowest-population college on the list in terms of foreign student enrollment is Pennsylvania State University – University Park, which has 107,767 foreign students enrolled.
Below I have added complete data on the number of international students in the top 20 institutes in the US.
|Institute||Number of International Students|
|North Eastern University||19,485|
|New York University||19,389|
|Columbia University in the city of New York||19,099|
|University of Southern California||17,509|
|University of Illinois||14,171|
|Arizona State University||13,379|
|University of California San Diego||12,648|
|University of Washington – Seattle||10,851|
|University of Michigan – Ann Arbor||10,772|
|University of California- Berkeley||10,711|
|University of California, Los Angeles||9,999|
|University of the Cumberlands||9,901|
|University of California Irvine||9,242|
|Carnegie Mellon University||9,230|
|University of Pennsylvania||9,057|
|University of California, Davis||9,010|
|The University of Texas. Dallas||8,918|
Number Of International Students In The US: State Wise
The statistics presented below rank the ten US states by population with the highest and lowest percentages of international college enrollment (2004–2021).
- According to the list, California has the most international students enrolled, with a total of 134,043 foreign students.
- There are 113,666 international students studying in New York. With regard to the enrollment of international students between 2004 and 2021, this places it as the second most popular state.
- With 70,223 students enrolled, Texas ranks third among states in the US for the number of international students.
- There are 71,026 foreign students studying in Massachusetts.
- Pennsylvania currently has 44,370 international students enrolled.
- The populations of Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, and Washington are roughly one-fifth that of California and one-fourth that of Washington.
Refer to the following overview of the top 10 state-wise numbers of International students in 2021-22.
|Sr. No||State||Number of International Students|
Field-Wise International Students In The US
- Between SYs 2018-19 and 2019-20, only two fields of study saw an increase in their overall international enrollment: math and computer science (up 2%), and fine and applied arts (up 2% and 1%).
- The remaining fields either experienced a decrease in the number of international students enrolled or kept their level. The greatest decline was in education (6 percent).
- Students from various nations frequently select various majors. For instance, in SY 2019–20, more students from Iran (80%), India (78%), and Nepal (70%) majored in STEM fields than students from Japan (18%), the UK (23%), or Germany (23%).
Below is a Feild wise overview of International students in the year 2019-2020.
|Field of Study||Number of Students||Percentage|
|Math/ Computer Science||182,106||19%|
|Business and Management||145,658||16%|
|Communications and Journalism||20,613||2%|
|Legal Studies and Law Enforcement||–||2%|
|Other fields of study||–||8%|
Number Of International Students In The US: Degree Wise
- According to the different degree types, there are different categories of international students who studied in the US between 2004 and 2021. These 4,193,277 foreign students have enrolled in doctoral programs in the US.
- This indicates that Ph.D. candidates represent the majority of the enrollment of international students.
- In the US, there are 942,602 foreign students enrolled in master’s programs.
- In the US, there are 843,102 foreign students enrolled in Associate degree programs.
- 380,792 foreign students are pursuing Special degrees in the US
- In the US, 222,322 foreigners were enrolled in bachelor’s programs. In comparison to the other categories, this one has the lowest number.
- The enrollment statistics by session and degree type from 2003 to 2021 are shown in the table below.
- The third-highest category for international student enrollment, associate degrees have seen a steady rate of enrollment of 40,000–50,000 students every year, with the exception of 2020–2021 (the COVID-19 pandemic played a major role).
- Up until 2011, when enrollment increased, the number of bachelor’s degree holders stayed at about 10,000.
- Between 2003 and 2021, there was a significant increase in enrollment in doctoral programs. with numbers increasing to over 300,000 starting in 2015. This demonstrates that it is the US degree with the highest enrollment rate for international students.
- The second-highest category for international student enrollment in the US is master’s degrees.
- Over time, numbers have slowly but steadily increased. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers significantly decreased from 2020 to 2021.
- With a slow and steady growth rate, the number of special degrees has grown over time. The COVID-19 pandemic did not have as much of an impact on the numbers as it did on the other categories.
Following is the degree type-wise number of international students in the United States in the academic year 2020-21 for undergraduate students.
|Sub Category||% of change from previous year||Number of Students|
Moreover, for graduate students,
|Sub Category||% of change from previous year||Number of Students|
Similarly for Non-degree students,
|Sub Category||% of change from previous year||Number of Students|
|Non-Degree, Intensive, English||9.1||7,737|
|Non- Degree, Other||87.8||26,394|
Following is the data on the number of international students in the U.S. from 2004-05 to 2020–21 by academic level.
Impact of COVID-19 on International College Student Enrollment
Covid-19 has hugely impacted the enrollment of International students that are studying in the US.
62. According to the report from 2022, the overall international student enrollment dropped 15% from the previous year i.e. before Covid-19. This is considered the largest dip ever.
63. According to the data from bestcolleges.com, the number of enrolled international students dropped nearly by 17%.
64. The enrollment of new students among the international students fell by 46%.
Moreover, this number has changed a year later. The fall of 2021 says,
65. In fall 2021, there was an 8% increase in enrolled international students.
66. There was a 4% increase in the total number of international students in the US.
67. A 43% increase has been seen in the international student applications.
68. Around 68% increase was seen in new international students.
69. Moreover, in 2022, 65% of the surveyed institutions reported an increase in international applications for fall 2022.
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Conclusion: International Students In The US (2023)
So finally, here we are with all the facts and figures about International students in the US. Now it’s your turn to understand and catch up on all the statistics mentioned above.
I hope I have covered all the stats about International students in the US. If I have left something to mention, then let us know in the comment section below.
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