Nigerian students
Nigerian students have an outsized track record of success. Source: Kola Sulaimon / AFP

There is no shortage of Nigerian students and graduates making waves around the world. You’ll find them in labs, boardrooms, stadiums, stages, and more. In the US, more than half of Nigerian immigrants (54%) were most likely to occupy management positions — surpassing 39% of the US-born population and 32% of the total foreign-born population, according to 2017 data from the Migration Policy Institute.

Look into their CVs and you’ll find many made their start with an American degree. Indeed, Nigerians are twice as likely to hold a bachelor’s degree compared with 31% of the total foreign-born population and 32% of the US-born population.

Below we take a look at more facts and figures about what’s arguably the most successful international student group in the US:

Nigerian graduates in top positions across sectors

From engineering to politics, there is a long list of Nigerians achieving top positions in industry and government in the US after earning their US degrees.

Lazarus Angbazo studied Industrial Engineering and Operations Research for his master’s degree at the University of Iowa before pursuing a PhD in Corporate Finance at New York University. He is now the president and CEO of General Electric in Nigeria, where he doubled revenues to over US$1 billion in 2012.

Yinka Faleti studied human factors engineering at the US Military Academy and graduated in 1998. In 2007, he earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Washington University School of Law. After serving two tours in the US Army for Operation Desert Spring and Operation Enduring Freedom, Faleti ran as a candidate for Missouri Secretary of State in the 2020 elections. 

Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of California, Berkeley in 2004 and a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School in 2009. From 2015 to 2016, Adeyemo became the United States Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics under President Barack Obama. Now, he is sworn into office as the 15th US Deputy Secretary of Treasury.

Nigeria sends the most students to the US among African nations

No fewer than 12,860 Nigerian students are enrolled in over 1,000 educational institutions in the US in 2020-21.  According to Open Doors, they make up the largest student cohort from an African nation and the 10th largest worldwide. In the previous year, it was even higher, at 13,762.

Scholarships and financial aid for Nigerian students in the US

According to Open Doors, they noted that students using EducationUSA Nigeria services won US$28 million in scholarships and financial aid in the 2021 academic year. Their success is evidence of their leadership, academic performance, and the great potential young Nigerians hold for the future of the US.

Ekene Ezeunala, one of the 2021 Opportunity Fund Programme scholars received full funding to study Computer Science and Mathematics at Columbia University in the City of New York. Ekene praised the EducationUSA Opportunity Funds Programme stating “EducationUSA opened up a whole new world of opportunities and resources I never knew were available to me.”