top degrees international students study by country of origin
Jul 17 2017 0

What Degree Fields Attract International Students From The Top Origin Countries?

Last week we looked over what degree fields are attracting the most international students. Knowing what degree fields are being sought can help universities know what programs they should show case in their marketing efforts. However, it is also important to know what degree fields to push in what countries. So let us look at the top countries of origin for US international students and the top three degree fields they populate.



Since China is the leading country of origin for US international students, about 32% come from China, it is not surprising that the degree fields they choose to study are among the top three most popular degree fields for international students. The majority of Chinese  international students come over to study Business & Management, about 24%. The next popular degree field with 19% is Engineering. The third most popular degree field is Math & Computer Science with 14%.



Indian international students make up about 16% of US international students and like China, their degree field choices are also in the top three. The majority of Indian international students can be found in two degree fields: Engineering holding about 36% of Indian international students and Math & Computer science holding 35%. The third most popular degree is Business & Management, but only with 10% of Indian international students choosing to go into that field.


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is slightly different than India and China. Their most popular degree choices for Saudi Arabian students are: Engineering with 26%, Intensive English with 19% and Business & Management with 18%.


South Korea

There is not a specific degree that South Korean international students flock to. Instead they have a handful of degrees that are more popular than the others. The most popular degree is Business & Management with 17%, followed by Other with 14%. Fine and Applied arts are technically in third with 12.9% (13% when rounded), but Engineering and Social Sciences are close with 12.8% and 12.6% respectively.



Like South Korea, the is no particularly strong degree field that attracts Canadian international students. The degree field with the most is Business & Management with 16%, followed by Other with 15.2% and then Health Professions with 14.9%.



Nepal is not technically one of the leading places of international students (ranked number 11), but US universities did see a 18% increase in Nepalese international students for the 2016/17 school year. There are actually four degrees that attract the majority of Nepalese international students: 22.3% in Physical & Life Sciences, 21.8% in Math & Computer Science, 16.3% in Engineering, and 16.1% in Business & Management.


Recruiting international students is a marketing effort and like all marketing efforts, the more targeted the better result. By marketing specific degrees in specific countries, it makes for a more compelling message. Universities would be marketing their degree-specific programs to students who are interested in the those degree fields. By having a more tailored message and focus, universities could attract more international students to their school and degree programs. This in turn, will help to increase the number of international students studying in the US.


By Ashleigh Cue

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