For college students, few experiences can compare to studying abroad. Campuses can sometimes work as a protective bubble, and those who choose to continue their education overseas enrich their overall college experience. Given the wide array of countries American students travel to, higher education has truly become a global endeavor.
But which countries do students travel to the most? To answer that question, StartClass turned to the Institute of International Education, a comprehensive information resource on 950,000 international students in the U.S. and over 300,000 U.S. students who study abroad. The IIE surveys American colleges to gauge how many students study abroad and where they go, and counts only students who are reported by their accredited U.S. colleges after they return from their study abroad experience.
As the heat map above shows, Western Europe sticks out as one of the most popular regions. Six of the top 10 destinations are in Western Europe, including the top four. 30 countries had at least 2,000 visiting American students, and six had over 10,000 — Germany, China, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Most countries in the top 30 have experienced steady increases in U.S. students studying abroad in recent years, though some — such as Greece and Mexico — have seen their numbers decline significantly. Greece, which ranked No. 22 in 2014, experienced a 15.2 percent decrease over the past five years, while Mexico (ranked No. 13) saw a 39.3 percent drop over that time.
In South America, Argentina holds a slight lead over Brazil as the most popular country to study abroad, despite experiencing an 8.6 percent decrease in the past five years. In that time, Brazil saw a 52.2 percent increase.
With 13,763 students, China easily ranked as the most popular Asian country, more than doubling Japan’s total of 5,978. Those two are the only Asian countries to crack the top 10. Hover over the map to explore more countries where U.S. students choose to study abroad.