International Student Enrollment Jumps 12 Percent at US Universities

International Student Enrollment Jumps 12 Percent at US Universities
People walk on the California State University Long Beach (CSULB) campus in Long Beach, Calif., on Aug. 11, 2021. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
Micaela Ricaforte
International student enrollment at U.S. universities and colleges rose 11.5 percent in the 2022-23 school year—with California receiving more such students than any other state, according to a new report by the global education nonprofit Institute of International Education.

The increase is the largest single-year gain the U.S. has seen in 40 years and comes after a significant drop due to travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020-21, international enrollment fell 15 percent—from 1.1 million students in 2019-20 to 914,095—and rose only 3.8 percent the following school year, according to the nonprofit.

However, the 2022-23 numbers show international enrollment has almost made a full recovery, nearly reaching pre-pandemic numbers of 1.05 million international students.

Overall, such students made up 5.6 percent of all U.S. college students in the 2022-23 academic year.

Allan Goodman, the nonprofit’s CEO, said the numbers show the U.S. is the go-to destination for students across the globe.

“This reinforces that the U.S. remains the destination of choice for international students wishing to study abroad, as it has been for more than a century,” Mr. Goodman said in a statement.

Meanwhile, such enrollment grew by a modest 3.2 percent in California—but with 1.4 million students enrolled, the state boasts the highest number of students from other countries.

The report also projects international enrollment growing a further eight percent this school year.

Graduate programs also saw the highest bump in enrollment with a 21 percent increase in 2022-23, while undergraduate numbers grew only 1 percent.

Enrollment was highest among doctoral programs—at 29 percent—with 23 percent for master’s programs, 21 percent at baccalaureate colleges, 20 percent at associate colleges and 7 percent in “special focus institutions,” such as registered nursing or medical assistant programs.

Additionally, most U.S. universities are investing in undergraduate outreach in India, Vietnam, China and South Korea; and in graduate outreach to India, China, Vietnam and Nigeria, according to the report.

China made up the highest population of foreign students in the 2022-23 school year with 290,000 international students, while India was a close second with 269,000 students that year.