In short, I'm looking for some detailed data about doctoral students registered in the US Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), broken down by type of doctoral degree (e.g. PhD vs. professional doctorates).

To give some context, if it's of any help: I'm conducting some research on international students, and I noticed an important discrepancy between the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data and the official figures given by the SEVIS, relative to the number of international doctoral students enrolled in the US.

For example, according to the OECD data, in 2019 there were 88,530 mobile students who were enrolled in a doctoral program in the US. However, the SEVIS says (p.5) that "There were 187,902 F-1 students who sought a doctoral degree in calendar year 2019". There might be a small difference between the definition of "mobile student" and "F-1 student", but I don't think that on its own it explains a difference of 100,000 people.

The most likely explanation I see is that the SEVIS definition of "doctoral program" differs from what the OECD calls "doctoral or equivalent level". Unfortunately, in the link mentioned above, the SEVIS does not give information on what they include in "doctoral programs".

My suspicion is that the SEVIS counts professional doctorates as doctoral degrees, while the OECD does not. But I'd like to make sure this is actually where the difference comes from, and I probably need more detailed data for that.

If you have some suggestions of other datasets or documents that might explain this difference, I'd be glad to hear about it!

Thank you,

  • I don't see China in the linked web page of OECD data. Did I miss it somewhere?
    – Nobody
    Commented Mar 11, 2023 at 8:11
  • @Nobody The page does not list the origin country of US doctoral students, it lists the number of international students in each OECD country. For example: there were 20,019 international doctoral students in Australia in 2019. As China is not a member of OECD, it is simply not listed here. It it were listed, it would just give the number of international students in China, not the number of Chinese students in the US. So unfortunately it's irrelevant to the question I have.
    – J-J-J
    Commented Mar 11, 2023 at 11:08
  • Is China listed in SEVIS? Where is 88,530 listed in OECD table?
    – Nobody
    Commented Mar 11, 2023 at 11:12
  • @Nobody As far as I'm aware, SEVIS does not give detailed figures for doctoral students, just a gross number, so no idea of who they count as a doctoral student or not (which is part of my problem). As for the OECD link, the 88,530 figure is listed in the United States line (second to last line), in the column "Mobile including homecoming nationals" (second column).
    – J-J-J
    Commented Mar 11, 2023 at 11:20
  • @Nobody Well, the OECD publishes a quite detailed methodology, while SEVIS does not. I'm not inclined to distrust one or the other source, my suspicion is that they don't count the same thing, but as SEVIS does not give any detail about their methodology or data, I'm stuck. Hence my request!
    – J-J-J
    Commented Mar 11, 2023 at 11:26


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