International students represent an important means for strengthening U.S. cultural diplomacy around the world. New reports show that the United States continues to welcome more international students than any other country and that a growing percentage of the doctorates U.S. universities award are earned by students who are not residents of the United States.
According to a new report by the National Science Foundation (NSF), "U.S. Doctorates in the 20th Century", the largest groups of international students earning doctorates have come from China, India, Taiwan and South Korea. Students from the People's Republic of China, the largest international group, received more than 24,000 of the doctorates awarded by U.S. universities in the 1990s.
The NSF report describes the development of the unique U.S. graduate education in which fundamental research is conducted at universities, typically with the assistance of graduate students. The report also discusses other important changes in graduate education. Women made up 47 percent of all U.S.-citizen Ph.D.s from 1995 to 1999 -- a more than fourfold increase from 1960 to 1964, when they earned just 11 percent of U.S. doctorates. Minorities now earn about 14 percent of U.S. doctorates in both the sciences and engineering and in other fields as well.
Recent trends in international student enrollment in the United States reported by the American Council on Education (ACE) in Students on the Move: the Future of International Students in the United States show that by 2003 international students earned 55.3 percent of doctoral degrees in engineering, 44.3 percent in mathematics, and 43.8 percent in computer sciences.
International student enrollment declined slightly in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, after more than 30 years of continuous growth. The ACE report attributes this decline to a variety of factors including "perceptions that it is difficult to secure visas and that the United States is unwelcoming to international students; competition from other countries; the high cost of U.S. higher education; increasing higher education capacity in countries that traditionally send a large number of students to study overseas, such as China and India; and increased anti-American sentiment around the world."
For more information, see the Department of State's e-Journal Study in the U.S.
© Jeffrey Thomas/ U.S. DoS