International Graduate Enrollment Trends in the U.S.

By Li Chang, WES Research & Advisory Services [1]

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In the global competition for talent, graduate schools in the U.S. need to develop responsive strategies that diversify their student bodies and adapt to emerging recruitment trends.

International Students in the U.S By Level of Study, 1960-2012

For the first time since 2001-02, there are fewer international graduate students than undergraduate students enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education (IIE 2012).

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Overdependence on a Few Source Countries Raises Red Flags

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56% of international students at the graduate level are from China, India, and South Korea (IIE 2012).

Graduate applications from international students remained flat from 2012 to 2013 due to a sharp decline in interest from China and South Korea. However, Indian applications jumped 22% after slow growth from 2009 to 2012.


Look Beyond Traditional Source Countries, Tap Into Emerging Markets

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Growth in international graduate enrollments from select emerging markets, 2012 vs. 2004 (IIE 2012)

De-Risk Graduate Enrollment Beyond STEM Programs

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176,120 international graduate students enrolled in science and engineering fields in 2010, as compared to

93,230 at the undergraduate level (NSF 2012).


The number of international graduate applications for the 2013-14 academic year in STEM fields has shown sluggish growth, indicating a need to promote other fields of study as a de-risking strategy.

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% Change in international graduate applications by fields of study (CGS, 2013 August)

Build A Responsive Recruitment Strategy

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To achieve aggressive, diverse, and efficient international enrollment growth, we recommend a framework for responsive strategies that emphasizes the interplay of technology, partnership, and research.
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WES Research & Advisory Services [2] offers research-based consulting solutions on student mobility, international enrollment, and transnational education.

See more at wes.org/RAS [10]

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