Boston’s college students: coming and going

Which countries send students to Boston, and where US students go.

Was that a conversation in Urdu you overheard at Market Basket? German or plattdeutsch on the T near Kendall Square? Between 2008 and 2012, 53,486 students from around the world came to the Boston area to study, spending $1.7 billion on tuition and more than $900 million on living costs. By contrast, the state exports less than half that number — fewer than 3 percent of its student population — to study overseas each year. Here’s more:


1. Boston University

2. Harvard


3. MIT

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4. Northeastern

5. Suffolk University


Number of US students abroad who are women

65.3 per 1,000

Number of foreign students among all Boston-area students

Where US students go ...

Level of degree pursued by foreign students at Boston-area schools from 2008 to 2012:

Olivia Hall/Globe Staff



Percentage enrolled in STEM studies


Percentage of foreign graduates who stayed to work in the metropolitan area


Number of Massachusetts post-secondary students who studied abroad in academic year 2009-10 (out of a total 497,290 in the state)

Worldwide, the top 10 countries of origin for students away from their home countries:

Map Icons by

Top five US metropolitan areas attracting foreign students:

SOURCES: Brookings Institution, Institute of International Education, NAFSA, UNESCO; Map icons by; cities by istockphoto