International Students in the U.S. Up Ten Percent to Nearly One Million; Highest Rate of Growth in 35 Years; Increases Reported in 44 States

Students from India in U.S. higher education increased by 29% to 132,888
Study abroad by U.S. students to India up by five percent

The 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released today, finds the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities had the highest rate of growth in 35 years, increasing by ten percent to a record high of 974,926 students in the 2014/15 academic year. This strong growth confirms that the United States remains the destination of choice in higher education. The United States hosts more of the world’s 4.5 million globally mobile college and university students than any other country in the world, almost double the number hosted by the United Kingdom, the second leading host country. In 2014/15, there were 88,874 more international students enrolled in U.S. higher education compared to the previous year. The increase of more than 30,000 in the total number of students from India represents the largest growth from a single country. The Open Doors® report is published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

While China remains the top country of origin of international students in the U.S., increasing by 11 percent to 304,040, India’s growth outpaced China’s this year, with students from India increasing by 29.4 percent to a record high of 132,888. This is the highest rate of growth for Indian students in the history of the Open Doors project, which spans back to 1954/55.  The last time India grew at a comparable rate (29.1) was in 2000/01 when the number of students from India exceeded 50,000 for the first time. The large increase reported this year shows that the increase that began last year is gaining momentum, after a three-year trend of declining numbers of Indian students at U.S. campuses. In 2014/15, China and India together accounted for 67 percent of the total increase in international students, and they now constitute nearly 45 percent of the total number of international students in U.S. higher education, with 31 percent coming from China and 14 percent coming from India.  India sent more students total to the United States for studies than the next two countries combined (#3 South Korea and #4 Saudi Arabia), although those countries do surpass India in the number of undergraduate students.

The report also found the number of U.S. students studying abroad increased by five percent in 2013/14, the highest rate of growth since before the 2008 economic downturn. India was the 12th leading destination for U.S. study abroad. The number of U.S. students going to India to study for academic credit at their home university in the United States increased by five percent to 4,583. While study abroad by American students has more than tripled in the last two decades, reaching a new high of 304,467, still only about 10 percent of U.S. students study abroad before graduating from college.

The release of the new Open Doors data marks the celebration of International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States. The statistics reported in IIE’s Open Doors document how internationalized U.S. higher education has become, with a large growth in student mobility at host and sending institutions representing all types of colleges and universities and located across the United States.

The EducationUSA team in India (7 centers, 30+ advisers) has reached out to new audiences and markets over the past two years.  EducationUSA has placed a particular focus on virtual advising to reach students in cities without centers.  Physical centers are located in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai.  For instance, students in Bhutan can access EducationUSA virtually through the India centers.  Free information regarding U.S. higher studies and application process are available at the EducationUSA Centers and through the toll free number 1-800-103-1231, Monday to Friday, from 2:00-5:00 pm.

Approximately 80% of all Indian students in the United States are in the fields of Engineering, Math/Computer Science, and Business.

Thirty percent of all Indian students in the United States are in an Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program which enable international students to work in paid positions for 12 months after completion of their degree program in the U.S., and for an additional 17 months if in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.

The US Embassy has partnered with the EducationUSA advising centers to offer activities throughout International Education Week (November 16-20) including advising sessions and webinars at the centers themselves, an EdUSA roadshow – look for the car on Delhi University campuses on Thursday, November 19, and out-of-center outreach to audiences in Bangalore, Karnataka and Kochi, Kerala.

On Monday, November 16 the University of Calcutta and Claflin University will launch the program “Promoting Eco-friendly Entrepreneurship Development for Women in West Bengal” as part of the Indo-U.S. 21st Century Knowledge Initiative.

“As a son of educators and a beneficiary of American higher education myself, I am excited to see the record number of Indian students participating in and contributing to life and studies on American campuses. There is no better time to be studying in the United States.  I am also excited about everything the US Embassy is doing to encourage Indian and American students to study abroad, and to facilitate institutional partnerships between US and Indian institutions, such as through the Indo-US 21st Century Knowledge Initiative,” said U.S. Ambassador Richard Verma.

“We are excited to see that record numbers of students are taking advantage of international education opportunities, and we applaud the efforts of U.S. higher education as we work together to increase the number of American students who study abroad,” said Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. “It is critical that we continue to make study abroad more accessible. These exchanges strengthen ties between the United States and countries around the world. By increasing accessibility to study abroad, we are investing in our future and providing a forum to solve global challenges.”

“International experience is one of the most important components of a 21st century education,” said IIE’s President Dr. Allan E. Goodman. “Studying abroad is one of the best ways undergraduate and graduate students gain the international experience necessary to succeed in today’s global workforce. And studying in another country prepares students to be real contributors to solving key global issues in the world we share.”

Students from India in the United States study primarily at the graduate level, with 64 percent at the graduate level in 2014/15, 12% enrolled at the undergraduate level, 22 percent pursuing optional practical training, and one percent in non-degree programs such as English language or short-term studies.

There are now 73 percent more international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities than were reported a decade ago, and the rate of increase has risen steadily for the past five years. International students now constitute almost five percent of the more than 20 million students enrolled in U.S. higher education, up from around four percent in previous years. This increase is due to both the growing numbers of international students and a small decline in the number of American students enrolled in U.S. higher education.

Open Doors® is published by the Institute of International Education, an independent not-for-profit organization with a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,400 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE has conducted an annual statistical survey of the international students in the United States since its founding in 1919 and in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since 1972. Open Doors also reports on the number of international scholars at U.S. universities; international students enrolled in pre-academic Intensive English Programs; and on U.S. students studying abroad. Further details on the Open Doors 2015 surveys and their findings is on the Open Doors website at, and the full 100+ page report can be ordered for $79.95 from IIE Books  at

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State leads a wide range of academic, professional, and cultural exchanges that include approximately 40,000 participants annually, including the flagship Fulbright Program and the International Visitor Leadership Program, with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. ECA also sponsors the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships for U.S. undergraduates with financial need, and the Critical Language Scholarship Program in support of U.S. study abroad and the EducationUSA network of over 400 advising centers worldwide, which provides information to students around the globe who wish to study in the United States. For more information on the Department of State’s educational and cultural exchange activities, visit here.