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Nigeria Sends Most African Students to U.S.

Almost 9,500 Nigerians study at more than 730 colleges and universities in the United States.

Those U.S. universities include the University of Pennsylvania, Lafayette College, Tufts University, Vassar College, Northern Kentucky University, and the University of Kansas, according to the latest Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education.

Nigeria is the 15th leading place of origin for students coming to the United States. Last year's increase was up nearly 20 percent from the previous year. Nigeria replaced Kenya in 2007-2008 as the only African country in the top 20 places of origin, where it has remained.

Africa’s overall student number increased 8 percent with Nigeria's upward movement.

Most of the Nigerian students in the U.S. study at the undergraduate level. In 2014-2015, half were undergraduates; and 35 percent were graduate students; and 12 percent were OPT, or in the U.S. for Optional Practical Training.

Nigerian students in U.S. colleges and universities contributed $301 million to the U.S. economy last year. Scholarships from several universities were awarded, totaling more than $4.6 million.

Ten years ago, the Houston Chronicle reported that 17 percent of all Nigerians in the U.S. held master's degrees while 4 percent had a doctorate, " quoting statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, 37 percent had bachelor's degrees.

"The success of our EducationUSA program is a testament to the value in an American education, a highly coveted U.S. export," said Maria E. Brewer, Deputy Chief of U.S. Mission in Nigeria to students before their departure for the U.S. in July.

Those students will pursue a variety of majors, including electrical engineering, public health, computer science, business, chemistry, and economics, she said.

"You are going to be representing your country to many people who may never have met an African or a Nigerian before," Brewer said. "I urge you to be ambassadors for Nigeria and to take seriously your responsibilities to be good citizens and scholars."