Chinese Graduate Student Applications to U.S. Schools Up Sharply

By Jeffrey Thomas
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - For a second consecutive year, applications from Chinese students for admission to master’s and doctoral programs at U.S. colleges and universities have risen strongly - 17 percent - according to the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS).

“Chinese students are very eager to study in America,” says Keith Clemenger, who manages the China portion of a program funded by the Ford Foundation called the International Fellowships Program (IFP). In the IFP, two-thirds of Chinese grantees - who can choose to study anywhere in the world – choose to study in the United States. “One of the main reasons is that many Chinese students feel America has an ideal educational environment,” Clemenger told USINFO.

Applications from Chinese students to U.S. graduate schools rose 19 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to CGS.

China is the second leading country of origin for international students in U.S. graduate schools with 62,582 students. India is first.

CGS surveys U.S. graduate schools three times each year – in February to learn how many international students are applying; in June to learn how many international students are being admitted; and in September to learn how many international students actually enroll in U.S. graduate schools. The CGS data are based on the responses of 145 graduate schools, including 76 percent of the 25 institutions with the largest international student enrollments, according to CGS.

The State Department has taken a number of steps to expedite the processing of student visa applications, including adding new consular positions, negotiating extended reciprocity agreements so that students are not required to apply for visas as frequently, and directing U.S. Embassies and Consulates to put student and exchange visitors at the head of the queue when scheduling visa interviews.

The visa approval rate for Chinese students wishing to study in the U.S. is more than 85 percent, according to Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Maura Harty, in an interview in Beijing Youth Daily in February.

Harty urged Chinese students to prepare for the visa interviews. “Applicants should be able to tell the visa officer their goals in life and their study plans in the United States.  Most important is that applicants express to the visa officer how studying in the United States will help them to achieve their goals when they return to China.”

In the fall of 2006 a delegation of high-ranking U.S. officials visited China to extend a welcoming hand to Chinese students who want to study in the United States and to express their support for educational exchange. (See related article.)

In conjunction with the delegation’s visit, the U.S. departments of Commerce, State and Education launched an initiative that included a customized Internet “landing page” in Chinese. The page, Liu Xue USA ("Overseas Study in the USA"), provides information including the latest program schedules and resources about studying in the United States.

Information on visa procedures and traveling to the United States is available at and in the electronic journal See You in the U.S.A.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing provides extensive information on the visa application process including forms for applying electronically and information on how to make an appointment and visa wait times. More information on steps to take if a U.S. visa is denied also is available on the embassy Web site.

CGS is an organization of more than 480 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada aimed at improving and advancing graduate education. The full text of the report on international graduate admissions is available on the CGS Web site.

The International Fellowships Program provides opportunities for advanced study to exceptional individuals who plan to become leaders in their respective fields, furthering development in their own countries and greater economic and social justice worldwide, according to the program’s Web site.

Chinese students interested in learning more about the program and finding out how to apply can go to the Chinese language site: or its "English Summary" link on that page.

For more information on studying in the United States, see the State Department’s EducationUSA Web site.

See also Education.