The men had competed in the 38th Intercollegiate Mining Games in Montana where they were representing Curtin University’s WA School of Mines, The Guardian reports.
However, the pair traveled to New Orleans for a private holiday.
Both men, who police have said are aged 21 and 23, are currently in hospital and a reportedly in a stable condition.
They had taken a taxi to the Algiers area, which is one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods to meet with a drug dealer around 4:15am on Wednesday.
It was during the meeting that one of the students was shot in the stomach while the other was shot in the chest.
In a statement, New Orleans police said:
"According to the victims, ages 21 and 23, they were inside of a bar in the 500 block of Bourbon Street when they approached an unknown black male and requested to purchase drugs from him. The victims told detectives that they then left the bar and followed the subject to a four door dark-colored sedan, where an unknown male driver was waiting inside."
"The driver took the two victims toward Algiers and along the way, he told them that it would cost several hundred dollars to purchase drugs. The victims told the driver they did not have the money available. When they arrived at LB Landry Avenue and Shepard Street, the pair said they exited the vehicle and were approached by another unknown male who demanded their money. When they told him they didn’t have it, the unknown male shot them both and then jumped in the vehicle with the unknown driver and fled the scene."
"Based on the initial investigation, detectives believe a total of three suspects were involved in the incident."
The families of the two students are travelling to the US to be with them.
“The University is providing support and assistance to the injured students and their families," Curtin Vice-Chancellor Deborah Terry said in a statement.
“Support is also being provided to the others in the group who were not in the vicinity of the shooting and are unharmed.”