A record number of international students enroll in U.S. colleges. Will you come too?

Students on campus (AP Images)
Curtis Love, Eileen Shendo, and Israel Garcia sit in front of the student center at the University of Colorado. (AP Images)

A lot of international students pursue college and university degrees in the U.S. — nearly 820,000 did in 2013. That’s more than go to any other country to study, and it won’t change soon, says a report for NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Demand for an American college education continues to rise. Those nearly 820,000 students represent a share that grew 40 percent during the previous 10 years.

It’s a relationship that benefits everyone. U.S. colleges and universities recruit international students because they contribute to campus diversity and help sustain some academic programs, says Peggy Blumenthal of the Institute of International Education. Everyone agrees that students from different cultures enrich classroom discussions.

Schools with the most international students

It’s no surprise that larger schools enroll the most international students. The schools below all feature strong academic reputations. And once students report home on their positive experience at a school, others soon join them.

SchoolLocationNumber of international students
University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA9,840
University of IllinoisUrbana-Champaign, IL9,804
Purdue UniversityWest Lafayette, IN9,509
New York UniversityNew York, NY9,362
Columbia UniversityNew York, NY8,797

Source: Institute of International Education

Schools with the largest shares

The 10 schools with the highest percentage of international students — generally, 20 percent is a large share — often attract students to particular fields of study. The New School, in New York, is a magnet for aspiring fashion and furniture designers, while the Florida Institute of Technology, in Melbourne, attracts budding aeronautical engineers.

SchoolLocationPercentage of international students
New SchoolNew York29%
Florida Institute of TechnologyFlorida28%
Illinois Institute of TechnologyIllinois23%
Lynn UniversityFlorida22%
University of TulsaOklahoma22%

Source: U.S. News and World Report

Fields of study

The U.S. has more than 4,000 degree-granting schools, includng at least one that’s right for you. Below are the most popular fields of study for international students in the U.S. But it’s best to focus on a subject that fits your skills and interests. Here’s what some international students say about their choices.

Field of studyNumber of international studentsPercentage of total
Business and Management178,98421.8%
Engineering154,18618.8%
Math and Computer Sciences77,5609.5%
Social Sciences73,2748.9%
Physical and Life Sciences69,1528.4%

Source: Institute of International Education

President Obama backs international education. His 100,000 Strong in China initiative aims to quadruple the number of Americans studying in that nation. A similar effort works to bring 100,000 students from Latin America to the United States while sending an equal number of Americans to study in Latin American countries.

Learn about the U.S. college experience and chat with international students about adapting to American culture and becoming friends with Americans in a series of webchats about study in the USA.