International Graduate Admissions Increase 9%: Admissions Offers Rise for China, the Middle East, and Brazil
    August 27, 2012

    Julia Kent
    (202) 223-3791


    Washington, D.C.  ̶  The Council of Graduate Schools is reporting that offers of admission from U.S. graduate schools to prospective international students increased 9% from 2011 to 2012, following an increase of 9% last year. The new data marks the 3rd consecutive year of growth in international graduate admissions.


    The survey report on admissions trends, released today, shows that this growth was driven substantially by a 20% increase in offers of admission to prospective students from China, the seventh year in a row of double-digit increases. Offers of admission to students from the Middle East rose 17%, marking the fifth year of significant growth, and offers of admission to Brazilian students rose 13%. However offers of admission to students from India and South Korea, the second and third largest sending countries of international students to U.S. graduate programs respectively, stayed flat.


    CGS President Debra W. Stewart remarked that the overall pattern of growth in applications and admission shows that overseas students continue to recognize the quality of the U.S. graduate education system. “U.S. graduate programs and institutions still enjoy a world-class reputation.” At the same time, Stewart cautioned that growth beyond 2012 remains uncertain. “Given the current global economy and increasing global competition for talent, we must continue our efforts to attract students from countries where numbers of student applicants are slowing, as well as those such as Brazil and China, where there is renewed momentum to pursue graduate study in the U.S.”


    Admissions trends by field


    The survey results show that offers of admission increased in all broad fields of study except the life sciences, where numbers of admissions remained flat. Business and Education saw the largest increases in admissions offers, increasing 17% in both fields. Strong gains were also seen in social sciences and psychology (14%), ‘other’ fields (9%), and engineering (7%), followed by more modest growth in the arts & humanities (6%) and physical and earth sciences (5%). This is the second year of double-digit growth for international admissions to Business programs, following a 11% gain in 2011.


    Admissions trends by Institution Size


    Large institutions (in terms of the number of graduate degrees awarded to international students) continue to drive more of the growth in international offers of admission than those awarding smaller numbers of degrees to international students. Respondents from the larger institutions showed somewhat larger increases on average: 16% at the 10 largest and 10% at the 100 largest, as compared with a 6% increase at the institutions outside the largest 100.


    Admissions trends by region


    As was the case last year, offers of admission by U.S. graduate schools to prospective international students increased in all four major regions of the United States. The Northwest saw the most growth (11%), followed by the Midwest, the South, and the West, all with an 8% gain.


    Comparison of applications and admissions trends


    In addition to admissions trends, the report also tracks applications. This year the increases in applications matched the increases in offers of admission, both at 9%. The survey found a final 9% increase in international graduate applications for fall 2012, with large increases in applications from China (19%), the Middle East (11%), and Mexico (10%).


    About the report


    Findings from the 2012 CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey, Phase II: Final Applications and Initial Offers of Admission is based on the second phase of a three-part annual survey of international graduate student applications, admissions, and enrollment among U.S. member institutions. The survey had a response rate of 44%, including 76 of the 100 institutions that award the largest number of graduate degrees to international students. The report is posted at

    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 77% 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 2010 CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees



    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
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    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.