Chinese students flood US graduate schools

The Wall Street Journal has an extensive article about how China’s rising middle class is fueling a surge in application volume at US graduate schools for master’s and doctoral programs starting next fall. Specifically, the applicant volume for US master’s and doctoral programs is up 18% according to the Council of Graduate Schools with programs like engineering, business and earth sciences being particularly popular with Chinese graduate school applicants. What’s more, the rise is coming on top of a 21% increase in 2011, a 20% increase in 2010 and will be the seventh consecutive year of double-digit gains coming from China. In fact, applications from China now account for almost half of all international applications to US graduate school programs.

Interest in expensive US graduate schools is rising alongside of China’s middle class and corporate interest in hiring local Chinese talent with exposure to the West. Moreover, the quality of Chinese undergraduate institutions has improved – meaning more Chinese students can apply and be accepted into American graduate school programs based upon merit. Likewise and as more Chinese attend US graduate schools, there is a multiplier effect in that they will encourage their relatives, friends and colleagues to also apply.

However, it’s worth noting that at the business school and graduate school level, most Chinese students would ideally like to stay in the USA at least for a few years to get work experience before returning to China but thanks to restrictive US immigrations laws, that’s becoming more difficult while many American companies don’t want the headache of trying to hire a non-American citizen.

Beside the lengthy article, Dow Jones Newswires reporter Michelle Korn also appeared on WSJ’s “Mean Street” to talk about the growing number of Chinese students applying at US graduate schools:

Korn pointed out that typically anywhere from a quarter to half of all international students in the USA are sponsored – often by their employers. However, she also noted that many companies are cutting back on their sponsorship of employees getting expensive graduate school degrees abroad. Moreover, it’s still hard to tell just how many of the 514,298 Chinese who applied for US graduate schools this fall will get in but one thing you can probably be sure of:  They would not have applied to an expensive US graduate school if they did not have the ability to pay for it should they be accepted.

And given current US immigration policies, many of these students will probably end up back in China once they finish their studies to benefit the Chinese economy rather than the faltering USA economy.

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