Data & Infographics

Changing Tides: What to make of increased Indian international graduate students in the United States

By Alessandro Regio

India’s growth in applications and enrollments to graduate programs in the U.S. over the past two years, though partially a product of the COVID-19 rebound, is likely attributable to a new reality in Indian nationals’ capacities and willingness to attend graduate institutions in the U.S.

Three possible forces coalesce to generate more graduate-ready students in India:

  1. a robust in-country education received before application to graduate programs that makes Indian nationals competitive for U.S. institutions,
  2. a steady growth in the number of Indian nationals that can afford to study abroad, and
  3. increased access to information and resources necessary to better shape future graduate school endeavors and to be more savvy consumers of higher education.

Key Takeaways

  • In the past two years, Indian nationals have surpassed Chinese nationals in applications and first-time enrollment to graduate programs in the United States
  • Close to 60% of the Indian first-time enrollees over 2021 and 2022 are not directly attributable to a COVID-rebound since most Indian first-time enrollees admitted in 2021 and 2022 were not deferrals from the height of the pandemic in 2020
  • India’s development trajectory has created a potential pool of graduate-ready adults who have both the will and the financial capacity now to apply and carry out graduate education in the United States
  • Future trends holding, there is the possibility that India’s education and poverty alleviation efforts over the last few decades will generate more Indian applicants and first-time enrollees

Download the Brief