Most Popular Majors for International Students

STEM programs are a strong draw for students hoping to study in the U.S.
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Published on May 8, 2023
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  • Computer science was the most common primary major for international students in 2022.
  • Non-English language studies, meanwhile, was the second most popular major.
  • Half of all international students studied in one of the top 20 majors.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors reign supreme as a primary draw for international students.

The latest Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) report from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement showed that STEM-related majors comprised more than half of the top 20 most popular majors for these students.

The SEVP report uses data from students who enrolled in U.S. colleges through a student visa, so it does not include undocumented international students or students in the U.S. through other means like Temporary Protected Status.

There were 1.23 million students on F-1 and M-1 student visas studying at colleges and universities in the U.S. in 2022.

Most Common International Student Majors
Primary Major Number of Active Students, 2022
Computer science 91,083
Second language learning (Any non-English language major) 89,266
Business administration and management, general 81,797
Computer and information sciences, general 63,955
Electrical and electronics engineering 37,809
Mechanical engineering 30,561
Management science 29,182
General studies 25,824
Econometrics and quantitative economics 25,573
Liberal arts and sciences/Liberal studies 24,421
Management sciences and quantitative methods, other 23,489
Information technology 23,184
Regular/General high school/Secondary diploma program 21,963
Information science/studies 18,635
Biology/Biological sciences, general 18,605
Civil engineering, general 17,793
High School/Secondary diploma programs, other 17,275y
Computer engineering, general 16,370
Mathematics, general 16,059
Chemistry, general 15,231

This marks a shakeup in the top three. In 2021, business administration was the most common major, with computer science in second and second language learning in third.

According to the SEVP report, 50% of all international students studied at least one of the top 20 majors.

Students studied across varying degree levels of higher education. Approximately 6% pursued an associate degree, 37% a bachelor's degree, 41% a master's degree, and 16% a doctoral degree.

The SEVP report showed that the international student market is continuing to rebound from COVID-19 lows. Total higher education enrollment increased 7.3% from 2021.