According the annual survey of preliminary applications to graduate schools carried out by the Council of Graduate Schools, overall applications are up 2% on last year to 676,484.
“There are more incentives we believe for Chinese graduate students to stay at home”
Applications from India remain on their upward trajectory. This year, preliminary Indian applications reached 192,574, up 12% on 2014’s figures.
Meanwhile Chinese students, despite falling in numbers, continue to dominate applicant pools, accounting for 39% or 264,406 applications.
However, Chinese applications have fallen for the third year in a row, down 2% this year after declining 1% in 2014 and 3% the previous year.
Julia Kent, a spokesperson for CGS, attributed the downward trend to the improved domestic graduate school system in China.
“I think countries like China that are really economic powerhouses, see graduate studies as part of the country’s workforce development strategy, and they have put corresponding investments into their graduate programmes,” she said.
“So in that context there are more incentives we believe for Chinese graduate students to stay at home rather than go abroad.”
For the first time, CGS has distinguished between master’s, certificate and doctorate programmes in its annual three-part survey of graduate studies.
“We will have a more nuanced picture of the encouraging growth we have seen in international applications”
The new measurement revealed that master’s and certificate programmes received 63% of preliminary applications while doctorate programmes attracted 36%.
“Now that our international survey offers data by degree objective, we will have a more nuanced picture of the encouraging growth we have seen in international applications to US graduate programs,” said Suzanne Ortega, president of CGS.
STEM subjects accounted for half of all the preliminary applications from international students – compared with 16% of domestic students who are enrolled in these subjects at a graduate level.
Engineering was the most popular field of study, accounting for 231,751 of the total number of applications.
Elsewhere, business studies, the third most popular subject of study, saw a 2% decrease– the first decline in this field of study since 2004.
The report was compiled based on results from 377 institutions which issue around 70% of the total number of graduate degrees given to international students in the US.