Press Release

American Students Studying Abroad at Record Levels: Up 8.5%

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Open Doors 2007: U.S. Students Studying Abroad

Deborah Gardner

Data Tables for Open Doors 2007 Study Abroad: Click here >>



Continued diversity in study abroad destinations:
U.S. student numbers in China, Greece, Argentina all increase

WASHINGTON D.C., November 12, 2007 - Eager to learn about different countries and cultures and acquire global skills, U.S. students are studying abroad in record numbers, according to survey data released today. Study abroad increased by 8.5% to a total of 223,534, according to the Open Doors report, published annually by the Institute of International Education with funding from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The number of American students receiving academic credit for their study abroad has increased 150% in the past decade, from fewer than 90,000 students in 1995/96.

These increased numbers reflect a growing recognition by students and educators that an international experience is important to students' future careers. While recent growth has been fueled in part by programs that offer study for shorter lengths of time than the traditional academic year, there has also been an increasing interest in studying in more diverse destinations. (For additional statistics and analysis from Open Doors 2007, see

According to Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes, "A wide range of successful activities sponsored by the U.S. Department of State help U.S. students to gain access to a substantive international experience. These include the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the Gilman Scholarships for undergraduates, and new National Security Language Initiative (NSLI) programs focused on language learning. Gilman in particular is a point of pride, by reaching out to students of more modest means, it has produced truly remarkable gains in the numbers of U.S. citizens from minority communities who now can aspire to the life-changing experience of study abroad."

Allan E. Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education, says that language and cultural skills are increasingly valued by employers and vital to America's national interest. "Students should get a passport along with their student ID," he said, "and they should use it to study abroad at least once during their academic careers." Despite the steadily rising numbers, the vast majority of US students still graduate without any study abroad experience. Dr. Goodman noted that "The opportunity for more young Americans to study abroad is a goal shared by the President, the Secretary of State, and leaders in Congress, industry and academia."

Under Secretary Hughes noted that NSLI intensive language study scholarships provided by the Department of State for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students "show America's respect for other cultures, a cornerstone of our public diplomacy efforts, while demonstrating our commitment to building language skills for our citizens."

The increases reported in Open Doors 2007 reflect a growing interest in non-traditional destinations - students going to Asia (up 26%), Latin America (up 14%), Africa (up 19%) and the Middle East (up 31%) -- and a wider range of study abroad opportunities in addition to the extremely valuable semester and academic year programs. Semester study now attracts 37% of those students studying abroad, while slightly more than half (52%) of U.S. students elect short-term programs (including summer, January term and any program of less than 8 weeks) and only 5.5% spend a full academic or calendar year abroad. While brief sojourns and short-term programs expand the numbers of Americans studying abroad, longer programs abroad provide better opportunities for language acquisition and deeper immersion in the culture.

Latin America hosted 15% of all Americans studying abroad, Asia hosted 9%, Oceania (Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Islands) hosted 6% and Africa 4%. While posting strong gains this year, only 1% studied in the Middle East, and study abroad to countries in North America remained 0.5 % of the total, although the figure does not include U.S. students enrolled for degree study in Canadian and other North American colleges and universities. Some 58% of all U.S. students who study abroad do so in Europe (130,274). This represents a smaller proportion of students than in prior years (down from 60% in 2004/05, and showing a gradual decline from 65% a decade ago). Most of the 20 leading destinations for study abroad listed in Open Doors 2007 saw increases in the number of American students studying in their countries, with only New Zealand showing a slight decrease. The U.K. was once again the leading destination, with a total of 32,109, practically unchanged from the previous year's total. Italy was the second most popular destination with 26,078 students, up 5% from the previous year, followed by #3 Spain (21,881, up 5%), #4 France (15,602, up 1.5%), #5 Australia (10,980, up 1.5%), #6 Mexico (10,022, up 8%), #7 China (8,830, up 38%), #8 Germany (6,858, up 5%), #9 Costa Rica (5,518, up 13%), #10 Ireland (5,499, up 8%), #11 Japan (4,411, up 8%), #12 Greece (3,227, up 32%), #13 Argentina (2,865, up 42%), #14 Czech Republic (2,846, up 14%), # 15 Austria (2,792, up 1%), #16 Chile (2,578, up 8%), #17 New Zealand (2,542, down 4%), #18 South Africa (2,512, up 9%), #19 Brazil (2,328, up 17%) and #20 Ecuador (2,171, up 27%).

There were also noteworthy increases in students studying in India (2,115, up 20%), Israel (1,981, up 22.5%), Peru (1,135, up 31%), South Korea (1,267, up 32%), Belgium (1,126, up 28.5%), Dominican Republic (922, up 27%), Hong Kong (915, up 22%), Tanzania (557, up 19%), Turkey (694, up 53%), Vietnam (390, up 13%) and Jordan (309, up 81%).

Open Doors 2007 reports that 40 U.S. campuses, primarily large research institutions, awarded academic credit for study abroad last year to more than 1,000 of their students. New York University remained the leading sending institution (2,809), followed by Michigan State University (2,558), University of Texas at Austin (2,244), Penn State - University Park Campus (2,168), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1,988), University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (1,981), University of California at Los Angeles (1,966), University of Florida (1,926), University of Georgia (1,916) and Ohio State University - Main Campus (1,858). UCLA and Ohio State were both new to the top ten list.

Although large institutions send larger total numbers, many smaller institutions report that a much higher proportion of their students study abroad. Open Doors 2007 also provides data on study abroad participation rates, and lists those campuses that send very high percentages of their students abroad for some period during their undergraduate career. Eighteen institutions reported sending more than 80% of their students abroad. They are (in alphabetical order): Austin College, Centre College, Colby College, Colorado College, DePauw University, Dickinson College, Earlham College, Elon University, Hartwick College, Kalamazoo College, Lee University, Lewis and Clark College, Linfield College, Luther College, St. Olaf College, Transylvania University, Willamette University and Wofford College.

The top three major fields of study of Americans studying abroad, according to Open Doors 2007, are the social sciences, business and management, and humanities. Over the past decade the percentage of study abroad students majoring in business has grown from 14% to 18%.

The study abroad data in Open Doors 2007 reflects study conducted in academic year 2005/06 (including summer 2006). US campus respondents to the Open Doors 2007 survey provide data on the number of study abroad students to whom they have awarded credit after completion of study abroad, so this study abroad data is the most recent that is available.

IIE has created a new web-based resource,, to help students find scholarships and grants to help support their overseas studies. An interactive website, IIE Passport (, helps students find the study abroad program that best fits their academic needs. IIE Passport contains more than 6,000 study abroad and learning travel opportunities worldwide for participants of all ages, searchable by country, field of study, language, academic level, world area, city, organization, duration, and type of program. The program listings are also published in two annual print directories: IIE Passport: Academic Year Abroad and IIEPassport: Short Term Study Abroad (available from In addition, the IIENetwork offers resources and an online community for international educators (, with a "Best Practices" section featuring Study Abroad and other internationalization programs that have won IIE's Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education.

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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. The census is based on a survey close to 3,000 accredited U.S. institutions. Open Doors also reports on surveys on international scholars at U.S. universities and international students enrolled in pre-academic Intensive English Programs, and on U.S. students studying abroad, based a separate survey begun in 1985. A full press kit and further details on the Open Doors 2007 surveys and their findings can be accessed on the Open Doors website,, and the full 100 page report can be ordered for $49.95 from IIE Books at

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State manages a wide range of academic, professional, and cultural exchanges that include approximately 40,000 participants annually, with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. For more information, visit

Data Tables for Open Doors 2006 Study Abroad: Click here >>

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