The Top 25 Foreign Lands Sending College Students to the U.S.

One of the biggest U.S. exports is sort of an import -- college graduates from all over the world. Can you guess where the most come from?

Young Asian woman in airport.leungchopan / Shutterstock.com

American college and graduate education has become a huge industry in the United States. With a reputation for academic excellence, a wide variety of courses and many opportunities to bolster English skills, American schools draw students from around the world.

In 2016, 1.2 million foreign students attended American colleges and universities, according to a Voice of America report. If that number holds (despite a decline in applications in the current year) it would represent about 1 in 20 of the 18 million undergraduate and 3 million postgraduate students the Department of Education expects on U.S. college campuses this fall.

That translates to a contribution of nearly $31 billion a year to the U.S. economy, the U.S. Commerce Department estimates.

The top five U.S. states for hosting international students are California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois, says the Institute of International Education’s 2016 Open Door report. The most popular fields of study are business/management, engineering, and math/computer science. The three schools hosting the most international students are New York University, the University of Southern California and Arizona State University.

Where do foreign students come from? The IIE Open Door report ranks the top 25 places of origin of international students in the U.S. It covers the 2015-16 school year, when the number of international students first topped 1 million and the latest year for which details are available. Here they are:

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