Record-Breaking 21% Growth in Int’l Graduate Students Enrollment in the US Hints a Robust 2024

Key Takeaways:

  • Graduate student enrollment experienced the most substantial 21% surge, reaching the highest total in Open Doors history.
  • During the 2022/23 academic year, the U.S. hosted 1,057,188 international students, marking a swift 12% increase compared to the previous year—the fastest growth rate in over four decades.
  • The U.S. continues to attract learners globally, hosting students from over 210 places of origin.

An unprecedented 14% increase in international student enrollment compared to pre-pandemic levels shows that there is currently a renewed interest in American higher education worldwide. This development sets a promising trajectory for the upcoming academic year.

According to the latest Open Doors 2023 Report, the United States continues to be a magnet for global learners, hosting 1,057,188 international students from more than 210 places of origin during the 2022/23 academic year. This marks a 12% increase from the previous academic year, representing the fastest growth rate in over four decades.

Looking into its current growth, 2022/23 saw international students flocking to U.S. institutions at all levels, with graduate programs leading the way.

Graduate Students' Enrollment Soars

In the 2022/2023 academic year, new international student enrollment surged by an impressive 14%, nearing a record-breaking high of 298,523. International graduate students were a driving force behind this growth, with 168,920 choosing to pursue their studies abroad, representing nearly 60% of all new international enrollees. This signals a significant rebound from the pandemic’s impact and underscores the continued appeal of US universities to international scholars.

Graduate Students' Enrollment Soars

Furthermore, the 2022/23 academic year boasts a record-breaking number of international graduate students in the U.S.—a staggering 21% jump to 467,027 enrolled in master’s, doctorate, or professional programs. This figure represents the highest total of international graduates ever recorded in Open Doors and reflects a sustained momentum observed in the preceding year, particularly among master’s students.

In the 2019/20 academic year, there were 374,435 international graduate students. The subsequent academic year, 2020/21, saw a modest dip, with enrollment at 329,272. A notable rebound occurred in 2021/22, witnessing a recovery to 385,097 international graduate students. The pinnacle of this growth was reached in the 2022/23 academic year, with a substantial spike to 467,027 international graduate students.

Looking closer, significant shifts occurred across all academic levels. Undergraduate enrollments witnessed a 1% uptick after a five-year stagnation, while non-degree study registrations surged by 28%.

Furthermore, post-study work opportunities through Optional Practical Training (OPT) recorded 198,793 international students, or an 8% growth, propelled by an increased number of international graduates seeking career opportunities in the U.S.

Popularity of US Master’s Programs

Additionally, the 2023 International Graduate Admissions Report supported this trend. According to the report, even the previous year witnessed a staggering 28% increase in master’s program enrollments, catapulting from 95,716 to 122,328 students. This surge in interest signals a strong preference for the depth and specialization offered by master’s programs.

While enrollments in doctoral programs also witnessed growth, the ascent was more gradual, with a modest 2.5% rise from 73,809 students to 75,666 students during the same period. This disparity prompts us to delve deeper into the factors contributing to the overwhelming appeal of master’s programs, particularly among the vibrant cohort of Indian students.

Leading and Emerging Markets

While China and India retain their dominance as the top contributors, accounting for 53% of all international students, there have been notable shifts in the market dynamics. China, in particular, experienced a slight decrease of -0.2%, while India reached an all-time high of 268,923 students, showing a remarkable 35% increase.

The narrative extends to emerging forces, with Sub-Saharan Africa experiencing an impressive 18% growth rate. Ghana’s entry into the top 25 places of origin serves as an example of this region and the global diversity and representation that is taking place in American classrooms.

And as we dissect the data, it becomes evident that India stands as a significant driver of the surge in international graduate enrollments. The numbers tell a compelling tale, with India contributing substantially to the overall growth. Specifically, the enrollment figures from fall 2021 to fall 2022 show a remarkable 22% increase in first-time graduate students from India.

Another surprising surge was seen in Iran, emerging as a surprising beacon of growth with a noteworthy increase in first-time graduate students. The data indicates a commendable 33% surge in Iranian students enrolling in US graduate programs for 2022 as compared to the previous year.

Promising Outlook for 2024

International student enrollment is roaring back. This wave of global talent presents a golden opportunity for universities, particularly in graduate programs, and reaffirms the enduring allure of American education. Thus, it necessitates a strategic response from educational institutions and policymakers alike. They must understand the diverse needs and aspirations of students from different nations. This allows international education leaders to craft specialized programs and create a safe environment for students while also strengthening collaborations with industries. 

By understanding the intricacies of this surge, we can collectively shape a future where global higher education is not just an aspiration but a transformative journey for students from all over the world.

This promising trajectory anticipates a diverse and thriving community of international scholars contributing to academic excellence, cultural exchange, and global understanding on American campuses in 2024. (RAGHWA GOPAL)


Raghwa Gopal is a serial entrepreneur, academic, and software engineer by profession. Drawing from extensive business experience, Raghwa joined MSM from British Columbia’s Innovate BC, serving as president and CEO and helping companies start and scale to fuel technology development, commercialization, and adoption. As Accelerate Okanagan’s (AO) former CEO, he was a driving force in development of the tech sector, with a CA$1.6-billion economic contribution.


Raghwa studied at New Zealand’s Central Institute of Technology, Australia’s Collier MacMillan School, and the University of the South Pacific. He has strong ties to higher education as a former lecturer of business at UBC Okanagan, computer science at the School of Arts and Sciences, and entrepreneur-in-residence at Okanagan College School of Business.

His board memberships span across multiple organizations, such as the University of British Columbia, the India Canada Innovation Council, the Women’s Enterprise Centre, and the Province of British Columbia’s Emerging Economy Task Force.



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