States with Most Non-Citizen College Professors

by McLeod Brown
Study - 3 years ago

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It will have been seventy years since the U.S. Census Bureau Decennial Census last asked people living in the country whether they are citizens or not — that is, if the question appears on the 2020 Census Survey.

However, that question is already part of the annual American Community Survey, so there’s plenty of data about non-citizens to explore. Given that we’re a jobs and careers website, we took a closer look at the jobs that non-citizens do.

Typically, when we think of the jobs non-citizens do, we lean towards the service and agriculture fields, and in most states, that is true.

However, when we looked at the most common jobs for non-citizens, we noticed an odd trend throughout the midwest – postsecondary school teachers.

The states below listed postsecondary school teachers as their most popular job for non-citizens at a rate per 100k people basis.

Jobs-per-100k is the most important metric for this study. For example, for every 100,000 people in North Dakota, there are 103 non-citizens working as postsecondary school teachers.

Summary of findings

  • North Dakota is the most concentrated state for foreign-born postsecondary teachers with a rate of 103.37 jobs per 100,000
  • From 2007-2017, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved over 2.6 million H-1B visa petitions
    • Colleges, universities, and professional schools (229,053) were the third-most prevalent petition filers
  • In total there are nearly 190,000 non-citizen college professors throughout the U.S.
    • Chinese ancestry composed the majority of the group at 22.31%
    • Asian Indian ancestry clocked in second at 12.03%
    • In summary, the United States imports a lot of professors from China and India

How we did it

Looking at the American Community Survey 2012-2016 from the PUMS dataset, we drilled down what were the most common job titles for non-citizens by state.

We then dug deeper into those states with postsecondary teachers as their most popular job for foreign-born citizens to learn some more stats about them.

North Dakota

According to the 2012-2016 ACS, the foreign-born population in North Dakota is nearing 25,000.

Additionally, 28.6% of the over 9,000 non-citizens who were over the age of 16 and employed worked in the educational service industry, tops for the group.

In 2016, 15.6% of foreign-born non-U.S. citizens in North Dakota held a graduate or professional degree. The native North Dakota population with a graduate or professional degree stood at 7.3%.


In Michigan in 2014, 20% of the state’s foreign-born population ages 25 and up held a graduate degree. This compared to just 10% of the native population holding the same level of education.

In 2016, there were 8,181 participants in the J-1 Visa program in Michigan. After subtracting those students in the program, professors and research scholars account for 23% of program participants.


In the Hoosier State, immigrants are 74.5% more likely to hold a graduate degree than natives.

Additionally, in 2014, 15% of foreign-born working-age (25 and over) citizens held a graduate degree, compared to 9% for the native-born population.

More info

Similar to the native born population, income for foreign-born citizens rises with education. In 2016, foreign-born citizens with some college or an associate degree had median weekly earnings of $699, while those with a bachelor’s degree or higher made $1,259.

In 2016, almost 954,000 foreign-born citizens worked in education, training, or library occupations.

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