Washington, DC — The Council of Graduate Schools today reported an 8 percent increase in the first-time enrollment of international students from 2011 to 2012, matching the 8 percent increase between 2010 and 2011, and representing the third straight year of growth in first-time enrollments. Total enrollment of international graduate students among responding institutions reached 197,000 in 2012.
Where are graduate students coming from?
Growth was found in a broad range of sending countries and regions, with significant variations:
These results corroborate findings from another recent CGS report, Graduate Enrollment & Degrees: 2001-2011, showing that international students now account for 14.5 percent of the nation’s total graduate enrollment.
CGS President Debra Stewart noted that the international survey results underscore the importance of international students to U.S. graduate schools. “The data show us that international students represent a growing percentage of overall graduate enrollment in the United States—a sign that graduate students, and in many cases, the countries that fund their studies, recognize the quality and return-on-investment provided by U.S. graduate degrees.” Stewart added, “The stabilizing rates of growth in first-time enrollments for India and South Korea are also good news for U.S. graduate institutions.”
All of the broad fields of study reported in the survey experienced growth in first-time enrollment of international graduate students. The two most popular fields among internationals are business and engineering: together they comprised 47 percent of all international graduate student enrollment in 2012, according to survey respondents. Changes in first-time enrollment by field are shown in the table below.
|Field||Increases in International First-Time Enrollment, 2011-12|
|Arts & Humanities||5%|
|Physical & Earth Sciences*||4%|
|Social Sciences & Psychology||9%|
* Includes Mathematics and Computer Sciences
Locations of Study by Region and Institution Type
International first-time graduate enrollment increased in all four major regions of the United States in 2012: the Northeast saw the largest increase (11%), followed by the Midwest (8%), West (7 %), and South (5%).
In terms of first-time enrollment, gains at private, not-for-profit institutions (9%) outpaced those at public institutions (8%) between 2011 and 2012. Doctoral institutions, both public and private, not-for-profit, grew at 9 percent. Master’s-focused institutions reported negative rates of change in first-time international graduate enrollment; public master’s-focused institutions saw a decrease of 9 percent, and private, not-for-profit master’s-focused institutions increased by 9 percent.
Findings from the 2012 CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey, Phase III: Final Offers of Admissions and Enrollment is based on the final phase of a three-part annual survey of international graduate student applications, admissions, and enrollment among CGS U.S. member institutions. The survey had a response rate of 52%, including 79 of the 100 institutions that grant the largest numbers of graduate degrees to international students. Overall, the 265 institutions responding to the Phase III survey conferred about 64% of the nearly 97,000 graduate degrees awarded to international students in the United States in 2011/12.
The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of over 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. Among U.S. institutions, CGS members award 92% of the doctoral degrees and 81% of the master’s degrees.* The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.
* Based on data from the 2011 CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees