Study Abroad Data

In academic year 2015/16 a total of 325,339 U.S. students studied abroad for academic credit, an increase of 4 percent over the previous year. The top ten destinations for U.S. students studying abroad were: United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, China, Ireland, Australia, Costa Rica, and Japan.

Cuba had the highest rate of growth among leading destinations in 2015/16, increasing by 58.6 percent. Other countries that saw large increases in U.S. students studying abroad included Japan (18 percent), Netherlands (17.2 percent), Denmark (14.8 percent), New Zealand (14.5 percent), Czech Republic (12.6 percent), and South Africa (10.2 percent).

Summer term remained the most popular time to study abroad, with 38 percent of students going abroad during the summer in 2015/16. This reflects a growing interest in short-term programs among students, with 60 percent of students studying abroad on programs less than eight weeks in length. Thirty-two percent of students studied abroad for a full semester, down from 5 percent from 2005/06, and less than 3 percent of students studied abroad for an academic or calendar year.    

Students majoring in the STEM Fields - comprised of agriculture, engineering, health professions, math, computer science, and physical or life sciences majors - represent the largest proportion of students studying abroad at 25 percent. Business and Management at 20 percent and Social Sciences at 17 percent are the other popular major fields of study represented among students who study abroad.

Over the past ten years, the diversity of students studying abroad has increased. While the majority of study abroad students in 2014/15 were white (71.6 percent), the proportion who identified as racial and ethnic minorities has increased from 17 percent in 2005/2006 to 28.4 percent in 2015/16. The number of students studying abroad who report having a disability has also increased from 2.6 percent in 2006/2007 to 8.8 percent in 2015/16.

For the first time in 2015/16, information was also gathered on students’ participation in non-credit work, internships, and volunteering opportunities abroad. Surveyed higher education institutions reported having 23,125 students participate in such activities in 2015/16, with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean being the most visited.

This data has been compiled from Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, a project conducted by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and the Institute for International Education. Each year, the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange is published with an analysis of international and U.S. student and scholar flows based on a survey of accredited U.S. Higher Education Institutions. View the latest Open Doors report and learn more about international student mobility at