- The 2023 International Graduate Admissions Report by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) revealed a 26% increase in the number of graduate program applications from international students between fall 2021 and fall 2022.
- 85% of all Indian applicants intended to pursue a master’s degree, demonstrating a significant preference for master’s programs among Indian students.
- In the fall of 2022, students from sub-Saharan Africa submitted 10% of all graduate school applications.
Early in the year, I analyzed the 3 Key Findings Suggesting a Promising Rebound for US International Education in 2023 and referred to it as the “Road to Recovery” for the State.
According to the recent Open Doors 2022 Annual Data Release by the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and Institute of International Education, the number of international students enrolling in a US college or university for the first time increased by 80% from the previous year, reaching 261,961 in 2021/22.
In addition, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of international graduate students in the United States. The data revealed 385,097 international graduate students, a 17% increase from the previous year. For the first time in ten years, this number was greater than the number of international undergraduate students.
A recent study has confirmed for the past six months that international enrollment in US graduate programs is on the rise.
Surge in US Graduate Programs
This marks the fourth consecutive year that the number of graduate program applications from international students has dramatically increased at degree-granting institutions in the United States. According to the recently published 2023 International Graduate Admissions Report by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), international student applications for graduate programs increased by a staggering 26% between fall 2021 and fall 2022.
From fall 2021 to fall 2022, the number of students enrolled in master’s programs at U.S. universities increased by an impressive 28%, from 95,716 to 122,328. On the other hand, enrollments in doctoral programs increased by a relatively modest 2.5%, from 73,809 to 75,659 students. This disparity in growth rates underscores the prevailing demand for master’s programs among international students and highlights the need to identify the factors behind this trend.
In addition, data from the fall of 2022 reveals an extraordinary increase in the number of international graduate students enrolling in the United States for the first time, reinforcing the United States’ position as a premier destination for graduate education. This period’s enrollment numbers exceeded those of the fall of 2018, indicating a recovery from the disruptions caused by the global pandemic.
The increasing interest and participation of Indian students is a key factor in the growth of international graduate enrollments for the first time. India has emerged as a major contributor to the expansion, with a 22% increase in first-time international graduate students in 2022 compared to the previous year.
Growth Driver of US Graduate Program Enrollment
The increasing interest of students from India and sub-Saharan Africa is causing a significant shift in the landscape of international graduate applications to US universities. These regions have emerged as major contributors to the surge in graduate school applications, reshaping the demographics of aspiring students seeking opportunities for advanced education in the United States. The data from the fall of 2022 demonstrates the predominance of Indian students, particularly in master’s programs, and the increasing presence of students from sub-Saharan Africa.
Indian students accounted for a significant 38% of all graduate applications received by US universities in the fall of 2022. Their strong presence shows that Indian students persist in being interested in higher education in the US. They know that American institutions offer high-quality academic programs, research opportunities, and practical training.
The preference of Indian students for master’s programs holds notable significance. In 2022, a staggering 85% of all Indian applicants expressed their desire to pursue a master’s degree. This demonstrates their keen interest in acquiring specialized knowledge and skills in their respective fields of study, which they perceive as crucial for enhancing their career prospects.
Sub-Saharan Africa is another region making an impact on US graduate applications. Students from this region accounted for 10% of all graduate school applications in the fall of 2022, indicating a growing perception of the United States as a desirable destination for advanced study.
In addition, students from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region comprised 6% of all graduate applications in the fall of 2022. In contrast, students from Europe only submitted 4% of fall 2022 applications.
As US institutions mark the increase in the number of international students enrolling in graduate programs for the first time, it is essential to maintain momentum and continue to adapt to changing trends. Universities can strengthen their positions as global leaders in education and attract exceptional students from around the world by fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment, providing robust support systems, and promoting international collaborations. (SUNEETHA QURESHI)
Suneetha has worked for 15 years in the international education sector and 25 years overall for her work for other industries. As president of MSM, she fortifies its business development outreach globally, particularly in the face of MSM’s foray into edtech-based recruitment via MSM Unify. She preserves the premium, value-adding services provided to each MSM partner institute, including dedicated teams on the ground, agent management, lead generation and inquiry management, application prescreening, and student and parent support through pioneering pre-departure briefing sessions.
She has an impeccable track record of successfully launching the representative offices in Asia and Africa of many North American and European higher education institutions. Her key strengths include hiring, training, and developing teams as evidenced by the successful results of the dedicated in-country college and university client teams.
Suneetha also has taken the lead in developing several initiatives at MSM, including building robust standard operating procedures, the Rise ‘n Shine team engagement platform, and the organization’s data analytics and audit segments.
- 2023. 3 Key Findings Suggesting a Promising Rebound for US International Education in 2023. MSM. Retrieved from https://msquaremedia.com/research/3-key-findings-suggesting-a-promising-rebound-for-us-international-education-in-2023/
- 2023. Foreign enrolment surging in US graduate programmes. Icef Monitor. Retrieved from https://monitor.icef.com/2023/06/foreign-enrolment-surging-in-us-graduate-programmes/#:~:text=US%20degree%2Dgranting%20institutions%20received,graduate%20applications%20to%20US%20universities.