China remains top sending nation and top Asian destination for American students

Beijing, November 15, 2016—The number of Chinese students enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education in academic year 2015/16 increased from 304,040 to 328,547 according to the 2016 Open Doors Report[1].  This strong growth is an 8.1 percent increase over the previous year.  China remains first among all countries sending students to the United States for the seventh year in a row and is 31.5 percent of all international students.   

In response to the increased demand for information about U.S. higher education, the U.S. Mission to China opened four new EducationUSA centers in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenyang and Chengdu over the last 18 months.  EducationUSA, the U.S. Department of State network of advising centers, provides accurate, current, unbiased and comprehensive information about study in the US.  Since expanding its offices across China, EducationUSA advisers doubled their outreach to Chinese audiences, working with almost 200,000 people through public programs, one-on-one advising, outreach at schools and other venues, and through digital engagement. EducationUSA programs are free and open to the public; information about their events and advising programs can be found at www.EducationUSAChina.com.  

Per this year’s Open Doors report, the number of students from China pursuing an undergraduate degree continues to exceed the number of those pursuing graduate degrees for the second year in a row.  In the 2015-2016 academic year, there were 135,629 Chinese undergraduate students, an increase of 8.9 percent from the year before.  Chinese graduate students in the U.S. numbered 123,250, an increase of 2.4 percent from the year before. Non-degree students and optional practical training (OPT) students from China also increased by 5.3 percent and 21.1 percent respectively for a total of 69,668 students.

According to the Open Doors report, more than one million international students studied at U.S. colleges and universities in the 2015-2016 academic year, an increase of 7.1 percent from the year before. 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 globally mobile college and university students than any other country in the world.

U.S. Students Studying Abroad

The report also found that China remains the fifth most popular destination for U.S. students studying abroad and the most popular Asian destination with more than 12,790 students studying in China in the 2014-2015 academic year. The U.S. Embassy is working with numerous Chinese and U.S. organizations to encourage more U.S. students to come to China.  The Department of State has created a new Study Abroad Office to provide information on student exchanges in China to the American public.  This office facilitates increased international exchanges, supporting the next generation of Americans to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in a globalized world.

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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 theOpen Doors 2016 surveys and their findings is on the Open Doors  website at www.iie.org/opendoors.

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 50,000 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, 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 www.exchanges.state.gov.


[1] The 2016 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange (Open Doors) is an annual report on international academic mobility published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State.  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.