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Open Doors FAQs

Open Doors 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. IIE has conducted the current survey on study abroad by American students since 1985.


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 800,000 international students in the United States and on the more than 250,000 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 international scholars in the United States and Intensive English Programs. The print publication includes data not found on this website. Open Doors online contains additional resources, such as country and state fact sheets, that are not found in the book (see Open Doors Tool Kit at right). 

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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 that includes more detailed data than is available online. 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. The book is also available for purchase.

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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. For the purposes of Open Doors, students at institutions other than accredited colleges and universities are not counted (i.e. secondary schools or vocational schools). Individuals who have permanent residency or a separate work visa are not counted.

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

A: The international student statistics include students enrolled for academic credit at U.S. colleges or universities (for undergraduate study, graduate level study, or non-degree study), as well as those who were enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities and stay on after their studies for Optional Practical Training (OPT) for a period of up to 12 months or up to 29 months for some approved fields while still on their student visa.

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Q: Are international secondary school students in the U.S. included in Open Doors?

A: No statistics on high school or youth exchanges are provided in the Open Doors Report. In 2014, IIE published a separate report on international secondary school students in the United States. The report, Charting New Pathways to Higher Education: International Secondary Students in the United States" is available to download at no cost.

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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: Who is counted in the U.S. Study Abroad survey?

A: IIE has been conducting the current survey on study abroad flows since 1985/86. IIE surveys U.S. colleges and universities, and the study abroad survey counts only those students who are reported by their accredited U.S. institution of higher education after they returned from their study abroad experience. These have traditionally been students who receive academic credit for their study abroad. 

Beginning in 2013, the Open Doors data on study abroad has included students who are enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities and go abroad for non-credit educational experiences including volunteering and service learning. Students who travel and take courses abroad that are not tracked by their home institution are not reported in Open Doors, nor are students who are enrolled overseas for full degrees from non-U.S. institutions.

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Q: How can I find information on students who study outside of the United States for a full degree?

A: In 2014, IIE published a separate report on U.S. students who enroll in colleges and universities in other countries for a full degree. This publication, New Frontiers: U.S. Students Pursuing Degrees Abroad, is available for download at no charge.

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Q: Does Open Doors have information on whether international students stay in the United States after completing their studies?

A: Open Doors does not include information on whether students stay in the United States, return to their home countries, or go to a third country. We do include statistics on the number of students who stay to conduct Optional Practical Training for a period of 12-29 months after completing their degree study, but after their student visa expires there is currently no way to track whether they apply for and obtain separate work visas or permanent residency status.

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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 2010/11 academic year were released on November 11, 2013. New data will be released on November 17, 2014. 

The printed Open Doors publication can be purchased at IIE's online bookstore.

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Q: Do you have comparable information for global student mobility to and from other host and sending countries?

A: IIE's Project Atlas publishes information from partners in other leading host and sending countries. IIE does not conduct its own surveys in these countries, but rather collects and brings together data from national agencies and partners in each country. The information and methodology is not always equivalent to what Open Doors collects, but it is the most comparable data currently available from each country.

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Q: What information is available to the press?

A: IIE's Public Affairs office can help you to locate information, and can provide some additional data. Due to confidentiality agreements, we are not able to provide breakdowns for specific institutions - you will need to contact the institutions directly. 

IIE's President, Allan Goodman, Special Counselor to the President, Peggy Blumenthal, and other spokespersons, as well as the Deputy Vice President for Research and Evaluation, Rajika Bhandari, are available for interview upon request. Please address press inquiries to Sharon Witherell or Maria Baum.

If you are not a member of the media and you are looking for data that is not published on the Open Doors website or in the Open Doors book, you may submit your request to IIE's Research team using the Custom Data Report form

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Open Doors Contacts

For information on the Open Doors surveys and research methodology and activities:

IIE Research
Tel: +1.212.984.5554
E-mail: iieresearch@iie.org

Media inquiries:

IIE Public Affairs
Sharon Witherell
Director, Public Affairs
Tel: +1.212.984.5380
E-mail: switherell@iie.org

Contact ECA Press Office
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
ECA-Press@state.gov
ECA Website
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