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April 06, 2010 2:35 PM Foreign Grad School Applications Increase

By Daniel Luzer

Applications from foreign students to American graduate schools are up this year. Apparently applications increased 7 percent this year, according to the Council of Graduate Schools. But the application increase is somewhat patchy, says Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik:

The increases are uneven. Continuing a trend from last year, the three countries that send the largest numbers of foreign graduate students to the United States are experiencing distinctly different patterns, with the numbers from China way up, while India and South Korea are flat. Programs at doctoral institutions are seeing increases, while master’s universities are encountering drops. And the application increases are largest at institutions with the most international students already enrolled, suggesting that among institutions trying to increase their international enrollments, it may be easier to build on success than to create a critical mass.

While American universities continue to be thought of highly, even in international ratings systems, applications from Indian students are down (2 percent from last year) and applications to graduate programs in different disciplines change from year to year. Applications to social science programs, for instance, increased far more than applications to humanities programs.

The Council of Graduate Schools also points out that increases in international graduate applications may have more to do with simple demographics than the quality of American universities. The education system in the People’s Republic of China, for instance, produces more people who want to attend graduate school than it has spots for. And so they come to the United States.

Still, looks like the economy hasn’t made much of a dent in graduate schools, at least not in terms of applications.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer