International students make up a significant portion of higher education enrollment in the United States. As such, schools across the country seek to provide international students with the resources needed to effectively navigate college life.
In addition to helping international learners address requirements related to visas and social security numbers, many colleges with students from abroad embrace diversity and promote cultural activities, events, and organizations.
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The following ranking highlights colleges with the most international students. The schools ranked below have either a high number of international students or an international population that makes up a large portion of the overall student body. We also considered schools that provide an abundance of academic, administrative, and networking resources for international students.
Top Colleges With the Most International Students
Colleges With the Most International Students
New York University serves over 19,000 international learners hailing from more than 140 countries. For the 2018-2019 school year, NYU had the most international students of any university in the U.S.
NYU offers many resources to help international students transition smoothly into academic life in the U.S. NYU's Office of Global Services provides assistance with immigration processes for students, and the International Student Center helps create meaningful connections between international learners.
NYU also hosts events and programs throughout the year for international students, including International Education Week.
Enrolling over 15,000 international students, New York's Columbia University maintains a strong reputation for serving international learners. Columbia's international students hail from more than 150 countries.
Columbia's International Students & Scholars Office serves the university's expansive international population, including faculty and staff. Resources include assistance with immigration-related needs like visas, travel, and tax-filing obligations.
Along with student support services, international learners can access an extensive catalog of student organizations. Students can join organizations like the South East Asian League, the Iranian Students Association, and the Hong Kong Students and Scholars Society.
With more than 6,000 international students, Indiana University Bloomington has earned a reputation as a welcoming and rigorous academic institution.
IU's Office of International Services connects current and prospective students with the university's International Student Ambassadors. These ambassadors are current international learners dedicated to easing the transition into life at IU and helping other international students find the resources they need.
Along with the Office of International Services, the university also houses student organizations like the African Students' Association, the Association of Central Eurasian Students, and the International Business Association.
University of Southern California
Over 10,000 students enrolled at University of Southern California in Los Angeles are international learners. To support these students, who make up nearly 23% of the student body, USC provides a robust set of resources while promoting the benefits of a diverse student population.
USC's Office of International Services publishes the International Connection Magazine, which highlights international student experiences and accomplishments. Students can also attend workshops that cover visa and green card requirements, employment opportunities, and academic and professional writing as a nonnative speaker of English.
Arizona State University serves more than 10,000 learners from outside the U.S., along with more than 700 international scholars and faculty members. ASU's students come from more than 140 different countries.
The university's International Students and Scholars Center assists students with visas, employment authorization, and other legal issues related to immigration status. The center also provides workshops on practical topics such as employment and communication skills, and it hosts opportunities for international students to connect through events like the Coffee and Conversation hour.
ASU also houses many international student organizations and an expansive network of international alumni.
University of California-Los Angeles
The University of California, Los Angeles serves more than 12,000 international students and scholars. For over 60 years, the UCLA International Institute has operated as both a campus and community resource, maintaining 25 centers and academic programs focusing on topics like global studies, international development, and global health.
UCLA also connects new international learners with International Student Ambassadors who introduce them to the UCLA community. The university's Dashew Center is the central hub for resources, support, and advocacy for international students and scholars. Students can attend the International Study Hall to complete assignments and prepare for tests. They can also participate in quarterly day trips, exploring different areas of Southern California.
West Lafayette, IN
Based in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University currently serves more than 8,000 international students representing roughly 130 countries. Additionally, the university has over 1,700 international faculty and staff. Purdue routinely ranks as a top school for international students in STEM disciplines.
Purdue's International Students and Scholars program provides resources related to academic advising, admissions, and immigration. It also offers a variety of programs and events for international students such as the International Friendship Program, which matches new international students with a member of the community, and the Host-a-Boiler Program, which finds local families to host an international student for the winter holidays.
Purdue sponsors several organizations and clubs for international students, including the Afghan Students' Association, the Indian Student Association, and the Nepali Society at Purdue.
University of Illinois
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is home to over 10,000 international students from more than 100 countries, representing about 20% of the school's student body.
The university's International Student and Scholar Services acts as an information hub for international learners, providing immigration services, advocacy, and outreach. Current students can receive assistance maintaining visas, gaining employment, and securing driver's licenses.
Additionally, U of I hosts 35 weeks of events and activities that relate to international student experience every year. These opportunities include virtual office hours and Q&A sessions. Students also benefit from the Uniquely Illinois program, which helps integrate learners with their new community.
Boston's Northeastern University helps foster academic success and personal growth for its roughly 13,000 international students. Northeastern provides opportunities for international students to learn more about American culture and meet new people through experiences like weekend trips.
Northeastern's Office of Global Services provides support services to the international student community, including assisting international learners with visa applications. Additionally, the We Care office offers help for students struggling with personal and academic life, while the Global Student Mentor program pairs new international learners with current students, helping them transition into life on campus.
Serving over 6,000 international students, The Ohio State University has a long history of embracing learners from far and wide.
Ohio State's Office of International Affairs provides pre-arrival assistance to international students, as well as an immersive new student orientation. The office also provides immigration information, helps students secure employment opportunities, and supports international learners with all aspects of life at the school.
International students can participate in programs like online "speed friending," career counseling, and cross-cultural understanding and communication workshops. Learners can also apply for grants and scholarships — at the undergraduate and graduate levels — that are reserved for international students.
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
Located in East Lansing, Michigan State University currently serves more than 9,000 international students. The university accepted its first international learners in 1873.
MSU's Office for International Students and Scholars provides cultural adjustment education and an introduction to U.S. laws and safety. The office helps international students secure state ID cards and social security numbers. They can also get help filing their taxes. International students can schedule advising appointments through Zoom or take advantage of the school's live online chat service to find answers to simple questions.
International learners can participate in programs designed to help them thrive in their new academic environment, including international student support groups, cross-cultural "listening spaces," and career workshops.
Based in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan serves roughly 7,000 international students. U-M enrolls learners from across the globe, providing them with an effective set of academic, administrative, and social resources designed to enhance the student experience.
U-M's International Center helps international students secure financial aid and provides guidance on topics like health insurance, immigration, taxes, and social security. The center also promotes events like an international opportunities fair, an international coffee hour, and international holiday parties.
U-M's international students can join organizations like the African Business Club, the Brazilian Business Student Association, and the Muslim Students' Association.
Penn State University
University Park, PA
Located in central Pennsylvania's University Park, The Pennsylvania State University serves approximately 10,000 international learners. Nearly 50 student organizations cater to the needs of Penn State's Latino/a, Armenian, and Chinese learners, among others.
The university's Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising provides students with the employment, financial, and legal support needed to effectively integrate into academic life at Penn State. Penn State Global also accommodates international learners by helping them find housing, secure transportation, and learn about campus and community events. Additionally, the university hosts an international parent orientation, which aims to address any questions, comments, or concerns held by the parents of international students.
University of Texas-Dallas
Located in suburban Dallas, the University of Texas at Dallas maintains an international enrollment of over 5,000 students from over 100 countries. These learners represent about 17% of the student body at UT Dallas.
Along with ESL courses that teach conversational English, UT Dallas offers international business classes, an international writing center, and a bevy of services designed to support international family members — both at home and abroad.
The university also hosts a series of annual events focusing on intercultural opportunities, immigration support, and education abroad initiatives. These offerings include International Week, where the UT Dallas community comes together to celebrate the contributions of international students, faculty, and staff.
Boston University serves 11,000 international students, houses 300 global initiatives, and claims alumni across more than 180 countries. Through administrative assistance, culturally conscious programs, and student organization support, BU provides international learners with the tools they need to make the most of their university experience.
BU's International Students and Scholars Office assists with immigration, employment and internships, and issues pertaining to travel and visas. BU also houses student organizations like the African Students' Organization, the Asian Student Union, and the International Student Organization. Students can attend events like online Q&A sessions and talks that teach international students how to highlight their value during job interviews.
How Many International Students Are in U.S. Colleges?
In 2019, international students made up more than 5% of the total higher education population in the United States. As the number of international students grows, colleges must offer the right resources and admissions processes to accommodate these students.
In the 2018-19 academic year, more than 50% of international learners in the U.S. enrolled in STEM programs. Engineering is the most popular path for international students, with over 20% of these learners pursuing an engineering degree.
How Can International Students Apply for College in the U.S.?
International students often apply to several schools. They provide academic transcripts, personal statements, and answers to essay questions as part of the application process.
While the general application requirements for international students remain similar to requirements for U.S. students, international applicants typically need to demonstrate English language proficiency if English is not their native language. Many schools ask for TOEFL or IELTS exam scores, as these scores help demonstrate the ability to adapt within an American academic environment.
How Much Does It Cost to Study in the U.S. for International Students?
International students often rank the U.S. as a top choice for their college education.
While a popular destination for international learners, education in the U.S. also comes with a relatively hefty price tag. Prospective students should shop around, compare the cost of various schools, and investigate grants, scholarships, and other financial aid options.
Costs vary from school to school, but private institutions almost always cost more. Students in the U.S. currently spend an average of almost $100,000 on their undergraduate education — this price reflects tuition, as well as other expenses like room and board, utilities, and transportation. Public colleges, although generally more affordable than private schools, still charge an average out-of-state tuition rate that exceeds $21,000 per year.
Can International Students Get Financial Aid or Scholarships in the U.S.?
While college can be prohibitively expensive for some international students, grants, financial aid, and scholarships can help ease the financial burden. Upon receiving a letter of admission, learners should consult their university's financial aid office. Experienced advisors can help locate funding to offset the financial burden of higher education.
Colleges with large populations of international learners typically offer a wealth of economic resources in the form of merit- and need-based financial awards.
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