Open Doors front cover

Open Doors FAQs

The Open Doors Report is published by the Institute of International Education, the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States. IIE has conducted the annual statistical survey of the international students in the United States since 1949, and with support from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since the early 1970s.


Q: What is included in the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange?

A: Open Doors is a comprehensive information resource on the more than half million international students in the United States and on the more than 200,000 U.S. students who sojourn abroad as part of their academic experience. The printed book provides over 100 pages of data on places of origin, sources of financial support, fields of study, host institutions, academic level, and rates of growth of the international student population in the United States, as well as on the economic impact of international students to the host state and national economies. The print report makes extensive use of graphics to highlight key facts and trends. Also included in the publication are sections on Scholars in the U.S. and Intensive English Programs.

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Q: Where can I find the Open Doors Report?

A: The Open Doors Report is published annually in the form of a 100+ page book. A copy of the book is sent to the person who responds to the Open Doors surveys at each campus, usually the international student or study abroad advisor, institutional research office, or the registrar. It is also sent to the international designee of each IIENetwork Member Campus.

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Q: How is the international student information obtained?

A: The data presented in the annual Open Doors Report are obtained each year through surveys sent to approximately 3,000 accredited U.S. higher education institutions, who report on the international students enrolled at their campuses. Separate surveys are conducted for U.S. study abroad, international scholars and intensive English programs.

The Institute of International Education has conducted an annual census of international students in the United States since its founding in 1919. The report has been published as Open Doors since 1954, and began receiving support from the United States Information Agency, now the Department of State, in the early 1970s.

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Q: Who is counted as an international student?

A: An international student is defined as anyone studying at an institution of higher education in the United States on a temporary visa that allows for academic coursework. These include primarily holders of F (student) visas and J (exchange visitor) visas.

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Q: Who is counted as a foreign scholar?

A: IIE conducts a separate survey of research universities to determine the number and characteristics of international scholars (non-immigrant teachers and/or researchers who are not enrolled as students) in the U.S. each year. A separate section of Open Doors reports on these scholars.

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Q: How is the U.S. Study Abroad Survey conducted?

A: IIE has been conducting the current survey on study abroad flows since 1985/86. The Open Doors Study Abroad survey counts only those students who received academic credit from an accredited U.S. institution of higher education after they returned from their study abroad experience. Students who travel and take courses abroad without receiving academic credit are not reported in Open Doors, nor are students who are enrolled overseas for degrees from non-U.S. institutions.

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Q: What are the most recent statistics available?

A: Highlights from the new Open Doors publication are released each year in early November. International student statistics for the 2012/13 academic year and U.S. study abroad data for the 20010/11 academic year are available as of November 11, 2013. The printed publication can be purchased at IIE's online bookstore.

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Q: Do the statistics include international students who are not studying at U.S. colleges or universities?

A: No, the international student statistics include only students enrolled at U.S. colleges or universities. No statistics on high school or youth exchanges are provided in the Open Doors Report.

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Q: What information is available to the press?

A: For access to Open Doors data before the date of its annual release, press and media should contact:

Sharon Witherell
Director, Public Affairs
Tel: +1 212.984.5380
E-mail: switherell@iie.org

Special reports are available by state and leading sending institutions. IIE's President and other officers, as well as the Director of Research, are also available for interview upon request. Please address all inquiries to Sharon Witherell.

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