India increasing in influence as China fails to keep up with the pace of graduate admissions to US colleges


A report from the Council of Graduate Schools published this year reveals that the composition of this year’s international students at US colleges has changed, with an increase in admission to students from India coming alongside stagnation in the numbers of Chinese students admitted.

The report was compiled by the Council of Graduate Schools in the CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey 2014, as part of a survey of 299 degree-awarding institutions in the US, which awarded 66% of the 109,000 total graduate degrees conferred to international students in the United States 2011-2012.

According to the report, there was a 25% increase compared with last academic years in the numbers of prospective Indian students, following on from a 27% rise in 2013. Chinese international students however, failed to continue their trend of increasing offers of admission year on year since 2006, and the 2014 figure of international Chinese graduate students was unchanged from last year. However, Chinese students are still of critical importance to the US international graduate student market, comprising 37% of all international graduate students admitted to US colleges in 2014.

Significant change in the international student market was not limited to Indian graduate students alone, as offers to Brazilian students have nearly trebled since 2012, an increase by 46% in 2013 being outstripped by a near doubling at 98% in 2014. However, it is yet to be seen whether Brazilian students continue to enter the US international student market at a rate to be significant when compared with other countries, as Brazilian applicants currently constitute a mere 1% of total admitted international students.

Suzanne Ortega, President of the Council of Graduate Schools, remarked that “American graduate schools continue to attract students from around the world. We should be excited about the fact that new growth is emerging from a host of different regions and nations. International students are important to the U.S. economy because our workforce will continue to face shortages of graduate-level talent over the next decade. To support our economic competitiveness, we should make it easier—for international graduates who wish to do so—to remain and work in the U.S. after completing their degrees.”

Regions without significant changes to their rate of student admission to US schools include Africa and Europe, with a 3% and 2% increase respectively. Mexico also did not see a substantial change, seeing a decrease of only 1% from 2013. Significant decreases in international students entering US colleges from South Korea and Taiwan were also reported, falling 9% and 6%.

Regarding the geographic distribution of international students within colleges in the US, all four major regions of the country saw increases in the numbers of internationals admitted, with a rebalancing towards the Midwest due to a growth of 12%, larger than any other region. The West and South all reported 9% increases in international student admission when compared with last year, and the Northeast saw international student admissions rise 8%.

Changes in the study preferences of international students also took place, with an overall trend of increases in STEM admissions taking place against a backdrop of admission increases across all fields of study. Physical and Earth sciences saw the largest increase in 2014, with a 13% rise in international admissions, followed by Engineering, reporting a 11% increase. Social Sciences and Psychology increased, seeing a 6% rise in international student admissions, which was also observed in life sciences. Education, Arts and Humanities saw the smallest increases, reporting only a 1% and 5% rise respectively.