College and University Blog

Graduate School Applications from International Students on the Rise

Graduate schools in the United States have reported a noticeable increase in applications from international students for the second year in a row.

The 9% increase in international graduate student applications from 2010 to 2011 suggests that foreign students’ interest in performing graduate level studies in the U.S. is finally rebounding after application declines in the early 2000s.

Graduate School Apps from International Students Increasing

Statistics show that over the past six years, the year-to-year growth in international applications has ranged from a high of 12% in 2006 to a low of 4% in 2009. The six years of growth follow a 28% decline in applications from prospective international graduate students in 2004, and a subsequent 5% decline in 2005.

According to Inside Higher Ed, the first phase of the annual three-phase Council of Graduate Schools survey, released on April 12, 2011, indicates that several trends from last year are holding steady: most applicants are choosing institutions that already have high international student enrollment, applications from Middle Eastern countries and Turkey are on the rise, and private not-for-profit colleges and universities are experiencing the largest increase in graduate school applications from international students.

Strong Global Competition for Business Students

Phase one of this year’s survey also reports that graduate school applications from international students rose in all fields of study, with engineering, physical and earth sciences, and other non-business fields leading the way. International applicants to U.S. business programs are spreading out a bit.

Although business applications to all universities increased by 4 percent, applications to the business schools at the 25 universities that enroll the greatest numbers of international students were down by 4 percent. The study’s author, Nathan E. Bell, director of research and policy analysis at the research and advocacy group, believes that this could be a reflection of “mounting global competition for business students.”

Chinese Students Applying to U.S. Graduate Schools in Record Numbers

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that these increasing numbers are thanks in part to the double-digit expansion in applications from prospective Chinese students. Applications from Chinese students increased 18% this year alone, marking the sixth consecutive year of double-digit growth in applications from China.

Bell calls the study’s findings “encouraging” and says that he expects international enrollments this fall to climb between 3 and 6 percent.

According to The New York Times, the report was compiled from data provided by 230 American graduate schools, providing information on approximately 488,035 applications for the Fall 2011 academic year.

The Chronicle reminds readers that because the survey was administered early in the graduate-admissions cycle, its results should be considered preliminary and subject to slight revision when a second survey looks at final application numbers later this spring.


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.