International Students In The US

by Gail Flores

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The US is a global magnet for students from all over the world seeking world-class education. And what do the numbers say about this?

This article takes an in-depth look at the statistics on international students in the US, including:

  • Number of international students in the US
  • Top countries of origin for international students in the US
  • Top 10 States with the most international students in the US
  • Top 10 Universities with the most international students in the US
  • International students statistics: Graduate vs. Undergraduate
  • Most popular majors for international students in the US
  • International students statistics: K-12
  • Top reasons why international students study in the US
  • International students in the US and their impact on the economy
  • Future trends in international student enrollment in the US
  • International students in the US: Frequently asked questions

Let’s get started!

Top international students in the US statistics 

  • The US is the largest destination country for international students worldwide, hosting 24% of all international students. 
  • 70.4% of international students in the US come from Asia, with China (23.8%) and India (21.8%) being the top countries of origin.
  • International student enrollment is projected to continue growing at a rate of 4.2% until 2030, with India expected to be the top source market based on current trends.
  • 78% of international students pursue either bachelor’s or master’s degrees.
  • Computer Science (7.43%) and Second Language Learning (7.28%) are the top two majors among international students.
  • California hosts the largest percentage of international students at 16.5%, followed by New York (8.34%) and Massachusetts (5.21%).
  • International students in the US frequently cite the ability to live and work in the US after graduation (38%) as a key motivation for studying in the US.

Number of international students in the US

1. The US  is the largest destination country with 24% of all international students worldwide

2. International students in the US make up 6% of the American student population. (Education Data Initiative)

3. There are 1,362,157 international students studying in the US. (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement). 

Where do international students in the US come from?

International students in the US hail from 227 countries.

4. 70.4% of international students come from Asia, the largest continent of origin for international students in the US.

Top 10 countries of origin for international students in the US

Country of CitizenshipPercentage
China23.8%
India21.8%
Republic of Korea (South Korea)4.6%
Canada3%
Brazil2.8%
Vietnam2.2%
Japan1.95%
Taiwan1.92%
Saudi Arabia1.8%
Nigeria1.7%
Source: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (2022)

International students in the US: Asia statistics

5. 46% of international students in the US are either from China or India

6. International students from China are the largest cohort of international students in the US, making up 23.79%.

7. International students from India make up 21.82% of the international student population.

8. Other Asian countries that sent the most international students to the US were 

Vietnam (2.2%), Japan (1.95%), Taiwan (1.92%), and Saudi Arabia (1.85%)

International students in the US: Europe statistics

9. Europe is the second most popular continent of origin for international students in the US, making up 9.45% of the international student population.

10. The top European countries of origin of international students in the US are Germany (1.18%),  Switzerland (0.27%), Norway (0.25%), and Denmark (0.14%).

International students in the US: Central and South America statistics

11. 9.41% of the international students in the US are from Central and South America.

12. The top countries of origin were Colombia, Peru, and Argentina.

International students in the US: Africa statistics

13. 5.67% of international students in the US come from Africa.

14. 22, 935 international students in the US come from Nigeria, making it the top African country that sent the most international students to the US.

15. The top East African country that sent the most students is Kenya, which sent 5,792 students to the US.

International students in the US: North America statistics

16. 3.08% of international students in the US are from Canada and Bermuda.

International students in the US: Australia and Pacific Islands statistics

17. 0.61% of international students in the US are from Australia and the Pacific Islands.

18. 96% of international students from this continent are from Australia and New Zealand. 

Top 10 states with the most international students in the US

19. 54% of international students in the USA are in 10 US states alone.

20. California hosts the largest percentage of international students at 225,173 or 16.5% of international students in the US.

21. Here are the top 10 states with the most international students in the US:

StatePercentage
California16.5%
New York8.34%
Massachusetts5.21%
Texas5.15%
Illinois3.42%
Pennsylvania3.26%
Florida2.91%
Ohio2.29%
Michigan1.96%
Arizona1.89%
Source: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (2022)

International students in the US by region

22. The Northeast is the region with the most international students in the US (29.7%).

23. It is followed by the South with 28.1%.

24. The West accounts for 25.9% of international students.

25. The Midwest region hosts 19.2% of international students.

26. Non-continental U.S. territories have the smallest percentage, which is 0.1%.

Top 10 universities with the most international students in the US

27. 10 universities host 12.26% of all international students in the US, or 166, 843 students.

School NameStudent Count
New York University22,232
Northeastern University 21,849
Columbia University in the City of New York 20,846 
University of Southern California 18,631 
Arizona State University 15,855 
University of Illinois  15,298
Boston University 14,843 
Purdue University 12,433 
University of California at Berkeley 12,331 
University of California San Diego 12,265 
Source: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (2022)

28. 6,322 schools in the US are eligible to enroll nonimmigrant (F-1, M-1 visa ) students. 

66% of schools that enrolled international students in the US hosted one to 50 international students.

19% hosted 101 to 1,000 international students.

11% hosted 51 to 100 students.

4% hosted 1,001 to 5,000 students.

Less than 1% hosted 5,001 or more international students.

International students statistics: Graduate vs. Undergraduate

29. About 90% of international students in the US are enrolled in associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral programs.

Associate Degrees

30. International students enrolled in Associate programs make up 6% of all international students in US higher education.

31. The number of international students in associate degree programs in 2022 increased by nearly 3% compared to AY 2020/2021.

32. There were 71, 445 international students in the US who pursued an associate degree in 2022.

Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees

33. 78% of international students enrolled in higher education pursue either Bachelor’s or Master’s Degrees.

34. Bachelor’s degrees account for 37% of degree programs sought by international students in the US while Master’s degrees make up 41%.

35. There were a total of 957,603 students who sought either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in 2022

36. The number of international students pursuing bachelor’s degrees increased by 1.6% between the calendar year 2021 and 2022.

37. The number of students pursuing master’s degrees increased by 15.7% between the calendar year 2021 and 2022.

Doctoral Degrees

38. 16.1% of all international students enrolled in higher education are enrolled in doctoral degrees.

39. The number of students enrolled in doctoral programs increased by 3.2% between calendar year 2021 and calendar year 2022.

40. There were 197,183 F-1 students who sought a doctoral degree in calendar year 2022

Most popular majors for international students in the US

41. International students in the US pursued 1, 486 different majors.

42. The top 20 most popular majors for international students are:

Primary MajorPercentage
Computer Science  7.43%
Second Language Learning7.28%
Business Administration and Management 6.67%
Computer and Information Sciences5.22%
Electrical and Electronics Engineering3.08%
Mechanical Engineering2.49%
Management Science2.38%
General Studies 2.11%
Econometrics and Quantitative Economics 2.09%
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies 1.99%
Management Sciences and QuantitativeMethods1.88%
Information Technology1.70%
Regular/General High School/SecondaryDiploma Program1.61%
Information Science/Studies1.37%
Biology/Biological Sciences, General1.37%
Civil Engineering, General1.31%
Other High School/Secondary Diploma Programs1.27%
Computer Engineering, General1.20%
Mathematics, General1.20%
Chemistry, General1.18%
Source: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (2022)

International students statistics: K-12

43. International students who are enrolled in K-12 education programs make up 3.93% of the international student population in the US.

44. The top five countries of citizenship with the largest number of international K-12 students in the US are:

  • China (25.3%)
  • South Korea (8.2%)
  • Mexico (7.6%)
  • Spain (6%)
  • Vietnam (5.5%)

Top reasons why international students study in the US

45. Based on a survey of 5, 861 prospective students and their parents by Keystone Academic Solutions, the top five motivations for studying in the US are:

  • Ability to live & work in US after graduation (38%)
  • Reputation of degree/institution in US (37%)
  • Experience of studying in the US (32%)
  • Career opportunities in the home country after graduation (30%)
  • Flexibility in studies (part-time work, internships) (28%)

International students in the US and their impact on the economy

46. International students in the US contributed $33.8 billion to the U.S. economy during the 2021-2022 academic year.

47. International students in the US have supported 335,423 jobs.

48. For every three international students, one U.S. job is created/supported.

The impact of COVID-19 on international student enrollment in the US

49. COVID-19 caused a 17.86% drop in international student enrollment in 2020, the first decline in decades.

50. International student spending for community colleges declined by 13.4% due to the pandemic.

51. Before the pandemic, international students in the US generated more than $40.5 billion and supported more than 450,000 jobs. 

52. But 2022 saw an increase of 10.1% in enrollments than the previous year.

53. 90% of international students in the US have returned to in-person learning across U.S. campuses. (Institute of International Education)

Future trends in international student enrollment in the US

54. International student enrollment will continue to grow at a rate of 4.2% until 2030, which is still lower than the historical average of 5.2%. (HolonIQ)

55. India is predicted to be the top source market for international students in the US.

56. Africa is the continent of origin with the highest increases in student enrollments. (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Learn more about other college statistics:

International students in the US frequently asked questions

How many international students are there in the US? 

There are 1,362,157 international students in the US, which is 24% of all international students worldwide and the largest share.

What is the projected growth rate of international student enrollment in the US?

International student enrollment is projected to continue growing at a rate of 4.2% until 2030, with India expected to be the top source market based on current trends. 

Where do international students in the US come from? 

India and China are the top countries of origin for international students in the US, holding 46% of the total number of international students.

What are the most popular fields of study for international students in the US?

The most popular major for international students in the US is Computer Science, which accounts for 7.46% of all international students enrolled in higher education.

Sources

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) 2022 SEVIS by the Numbers Report 1 

International students in the U.S. 2022 | Statista 

U.S. states with the most international students 2022 | Statista 

New NAFSA: Association of International Educators Data Reveal International Student Economic Contributions to the U.S. Still Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

Keystone Academic Solutions State of Student Recruitment USA (2021) 

U.S. Colleges and Universities See Strong Rebounds in International Student Enrollments | IIE – The Power of International Education 

International students are coming back to U.S. campuses – Inside Higher Education 

ICEF Monitor – New forecast warns that US is falling behind in the global race for talent 

Pew Research Center – Number of Foreign College Students Staying and Working in U.S. After Graduation Surges 

Top host destination of international students worldwide 2020 

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