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Foreign Applications to Graduate Schools Increase Slightly, Still Below Previous Levels

April 15, 2008

Foreign applications to U.S. graduate schools climbed three percent from fall 2007 to 2008, following a 9 percent gain last year, according to an annual survey conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS).  However, foreign applications are still down 16 percent since 2003, as a result of dramatic declines in 2004 and 2005. 

Highlights of the study include:

  • Applications from China rose 12 percent, following last year’s 19 percent gain. However, applications from both India and Korea had zero-growth this year.  India, China, and Korea are the top three countries of origin for international graduate students in the United States, accounting for roughly one-half of the total international graduate student population.

  • By field of study, the largest growth in foreign applications was in humanities and arts, gaining 12 percent for the year.  Applications to sciences and engineering, considered essential to maintaining U.S. economic competitiveness, showed little growth and experienced slower rates of growth compared to last year.  Engineering applications increased only 1 percent this year, following a 13 percent gain last year.

  • This year’s study marked the first year that CGS analyzed changes in international applications by type of institution (public or private, and master’s-level or doctoral-granting Carnegie Classifications). Public institutions showed the higher growth in international applications—5 percent for the year—compared to private institutions which gained only 1 percent in 2008. Master’s-level institutions showed a 4 percent growth in applications, similar to the 3 percent growth shown at the research/doctoral extensive universities.  However, applications to research/doctoral intensive institutions declined 11 percent.

The CGS survey research has three phases: the application phase, the admissions phase, and the enrollment phase. For more information on this survey effort, visit the CGS Web site.  Visit the Faculty, Staff, and Student Demographic research resource page on the NACUBO website to find more information on research on graduate students.