- A recent IIE report revealed that 65% of the 559 US education institutions saw an increase in international student applications.
- Yale University, Stanford University, and Harvard University are all tied for third place for best US colleges.
- China is the most significant contributor to the growth of international students at these top US universities.
Based on recent reports, the United States remains one of the leading choices for international students pursuing their higher education.
According to the Open Doors® 2021 Report on International Educational Exchange, over 914,000 foreign students attended higher education institutions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia during the academic year 2020–21.
More than 200 countries sent more than 710,000 international students to study at the undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree levels. Also, more than 200,000 overseas students took advantage of Optional Practical Training (OPT), a welcome chance for students to get real-world work experience in the United States after finishing their academic studies.
In addition, the IIE June report showed that there was an uptick in applications for admission to U.S. universities following two years when there were significantly fewer new international student enrollments.
Based on data from 559 institutions, 65% of them saw an increase in the number of applications from international students for the academic year 2022–2023 compared to 43% one year earlier across all institutional types.
There are many reasons why international students are choosing to study in the US, such as the high quality of education, the distinctive curriculum, the diversity of the country, and the abundance of opportunities. And, of course, the established reputations of American universities.
The Top US National Universities
The U.S. News & World Report also recently revealed its 2022–2023 Best Colleges. The world authority in educational rankings assesses 1,500 schools and universities on around 17 criteria for academic excellence and serves as a reference for prospective students and their families.
According to the ranking, one of the oldest private institutions in the US, Princeton University, tops the list of Best National Universities.
At Princeton University, at least 48 nations are represented, with China, Canada, and India having the largest on-campus populations–making it a campus with a diversity of thoughts. In 2019, an analysis of student visa statistics reported that about 1,959 international students chose Princeton as their university. The university also shared that international students make up about 23.4% of the student body.
In turn, the average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 94%.
Leading next is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Out of 443 national universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is ranked second.
According to reports, the institute is home to a total of 3,411 international students (out of the 11,574 students on the campus). This shows that the international student community makes up nearly 29.5% of the student body.
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, computer science, mechanical engineering, general mathematics, general physics, aerospace, aeronautical, and astronautical/space engineering are the most common majors.
Meanwhile, Yale University, Stanford University, and Harvard University are all tied for third place.
According to recent statistics, around 23% of Harvard University’s student body is made up of international students. Some 7,272 of the 31,566 students enrolled at Harvard are from other countries, 1,216 of whom are undergraduates. Additionally, it was revealed that the proportion of overseas students has increased on average by 5.3%.
While at least 50 different nations are on the campus, 1,440 international students are thought to be from China, which has contributed the most to this increase.
Meanwhile, a total of 2,775 international students, 646 of whom are undergraduates, are pursuing their studies at Yale University. This is out of a total of 13,433 recorded students in the university or 20.7% of the entire student population.
Aside from coming in third, Yale University ranked first in Best Colleges for Veterans and 21st in Best Undergraduate Teaching.
Another institution that’s popular among international students is Stanford University. Out of a total of 17,381 students, around 4,278 (or 24.6% of all university students) are international students, 739 of whom are undergraduates.
Similar to other lauded top universities, Stanford University is seen as receiving the most students from China. According to reports, Stanford’s average increase in international students is 4.2%, with China accounting for most of that growth with an anticipated 1,268 students.
These figures show that the U.S. continues to be highly attractive as a study destination for international students. Let’s hope that this trend continues. (SUNEETHA QURESHI)
Suneetha has worked for over 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.
- 2022. Best National University Rankings. US News. Retrieved from
- 2021. U.S. Colleges and Universities Remain Top Choice for International Students. IIE. Retrieved from
- Barros, A. 2022. US Colleges Report Rise in Foreign Student Applications. VOA News. Retrieved from
- Harvard University International Student Report. College Factual. Retrieved from
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology International Student Report. College Factual. Retrieved from
- Princeton University International Student Report. College Factual. Retrieved from
- Stanford University International Student Report. College Factual. Retrieved from
- Yale University International Student Report. College Factual. Retrieved from