International Students in USA

In the past few years, there has been a tremendous change in the pattern of students studying abroad statistics. There has been a remarkable rise in the international student population. When students opt to study in a foreign nation, they can understand the culture of a new place. The allure of high-paying jobs as well as financial stability draws hundreds and thousands of international students each year. They also get a chance to experience the customs and activities of new land by studying in a foreign place. They get exposed to new landmarks, natural beauty, and the ethnicity of other nations. 

Moreover, by living in a nation that shares borders with other beautiful nations, they get to travel a lot. One more benefit of studying abroad is that students get a chance to get exposed to various styles of education. Students get exposure to things that they had never got a chance to do when they were at home. One of the biggest advantages is that they get the opportunity to learn a new foreign language.

Some of the international education statistics:

The US remains the top destination of choice for students willing to study abroad. In 2018-19, around 269,383 international students enrolled at US universities. The next top destinations for international students willing to study overseas are the UK and China.

General International Students in USA Statistics – 2024

  • The total number of international students enrolled in the US in 2019 was 1,095,299. This constituted 5.5% of the total students.
  • In the last 10 years, the sector has witnessed an increase of 38.6% in foreign student enrollment in the USA.
  • In 2018, international students contributed over $45 billion to the US economy.
  • In 2018, total enrollment in the US community colleges was 86,300.
  • The largest source of international students in the US in 2018 was China at 369,548 students, followed by India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Canada.
  • In 2018, the majority of international students (25.6%) were enrolled in STEM programs.
  • The top US schools hosting international students were New York University, University of Southern California Los Angeles, Northeastern University, Columbia University, and the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign.

How Many International Students Are in America?

Schools with a strong worldwide presence regularly have a wealth of cultural groups and events, allowing international students the possibility to share their food, music, and traditions with their US peers.

The total number of international students enrolled in US colleges is 1,095,299. In the last decade, all three programs – Undergraduate, Graduate, and OPT have seen a staggering increase in enrollments. The majority of students studying in the US originate from China and India. Engineering, maths, and software engineering programs were among the most widely recognized fields of study for students. The US is home to numerous incredibly famous schools, most remarkably the Ivy League Colleges, which impart an education that is sought by both international and local students. 

1. Students studying in higher education courses have increased from 2.1 million in 2001 to 5.3 million at present.

The volume of these students studying in the US has decreased from 28% to 21%.

2. Out of the total world leaders, 62 were enrolled in US universities.

The US universities and colleges have churned out maximum world leaders in the last few years.

Number of International Students in the US: by Country

3. China is the largest source of international students studying in the US.

In 2018-19, 369,548 students from China were enrolled in various courses in the US.

4. India is the second-largest source of international students studying in the US.

In 2018-19, 202,014 students from India were enrolled in various courses in the US, with an increase of 2.9% over the previous year.

Enrollment Statistics of International Students in the USA

5. In 2019, 5.5% of the students in the US comprised of foreign students

In 2019, 1,095,299 international students were enrolled in the US.

6. Community colleges in the US get high enrollment rates.

In 2018, the number of students enrolled in the US community colleges was more than 86,000.

Nonimmigrant International Students in the US

7. In 2018, SEVIS recorded 1.6 million active F-1 and M-1 students.

The year 2018 saw a decrease of 1.7% in the active F-1 and M-1 students as compared to 2017.

8. The percentage of students enrolled in SEVP-certified programs in 2018 was 85%.

In 2018, there was a decrease of 7.8% in F-1 students pursuing an associate degree.

Most Popular Programs Among International Students in the USA

9. There are more than 2 million educational courses under 2-year and 4-year programs.

These two types of institutions in the US offer various types of degrees to international students.

10. Engineering was the most popular study program in 2019.

There were 230,780 students enrolled for an engineering course in 2019.

Top Destinations for International Students in the USA

11. San Diego has been ranked 80th in the 2018 Best Students Cities ranking.

Owing to its beautiful weather and beaches, San Diego attracts thousands of international students for studying every year.

12. Boston is considered as an academic hub for international students.

Boston, Massachusetts, has it all from safes to cultural activities. The region also has a strong multi-culture environment.

Chinese Students in the US Colleges – Facts & Figures

How Many Chinese Nationals Are in the U.S?

In China, education is one of the government’s vital priorities and is one of the maximum widespread expenses for the citizens after travel and luxury items. The number of Chinese students in the US has increased considerably since the start of the 21st century.

China is the top nation sending its residents to study in the US. There are three categories of Chinese students studying in the US:

  • Those in search of satisfactory training and wishing to go to the most prestigious universities
  • Parents that agree with their kids aren’t able to get enough points to go to the most prestigious universities in China. 
  • Parents want their youngsters to attain a broader worldview and speak English. Typically, the parents of such kids would like their child to run their enterprises internationally.
13. The number of Chinese students in the US is 369,548.

For the past nine years, China is leading in the number of international students that travel to the US to pursue studies.

14. Chinese students mostly opt for management and business courses in the US.

Students from China choose to study computer science, engineering, and Maths in the US but the above two mentioned courses are the most sought after.

How Much Do International Students Pay for College in the US?

To stay at the top in an increasingly competitive world, institutions imparting higher education in the US must consider offering international students and their families a high investment in education. 

Since international students have numerous options for foreign education in the US, higher institutes must have a competitive edge with other countries by going to a great extent to meet their requirements.

Some of the countries like China are becoming leading destinations, and students are continually shifting to these nations. As compared to the US, many other countries propose international students more simplified visa and work options and more cost-effective tuition rates. If a student is studying at a four-year college in the US, it costs double what it was a decade ago. 

15. In the US, fees in public and private institutions are at an average of $37,430 to $48,510 per year.

Compared to domestic students, international students usually pay twice tuition fees along with other expenses, including international student fees, visas, and airfare.

International Students in the US: Economic Impact

16. The impact of international students on the US economy crossed US$40 billion in 2019.

International students grabbed approximately 460,000 jobs during 2018-2019.

17. International students have found and established 23 % of the large companies in the US.

In the last decade, foreign student enrollment witnessed exceptional increases from developing and growing countries.

COVID-19 Impact on International & US Students

COVID-19 saw universities, enterprises, and nations alike taking measures to contain the pandemic. The Coronavirus storm has a great impact on foreign education- almost all universities and colleges are empty.


Staying and studying in the US as an international student can be an enticing experience. The rich experience that the US universities impart to international students is the main reason that thousands of students opt for the US as their favorite study destination. This is quite evident from the sharp rise in enrollment these universities have witnessed in the past few years. If students are making plans to study in America, then they must gain knowledge of the proper process of application and the Visa formalities.

Helen Vlasova
Helen is the co-founder of, a career guidance website for students and young professionals. She has a degree in English from the University of Michigan. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.

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