Top 5 Academic Programs with High International Student Demand

September 29, 2022

Just a year ago, media pundits declared that the US was losing its place as a beacon for international students and predicted that our colleges and universities should not expect the demand ever to recover.

Fortunately, they were wrong. Gray data shows that post-COVID, international student demand is healthy, and new programs offer promising growth.

Growth in Demand for College Programs by International Students

As illustrated below, academic program searches by potential international students have risen 28 percent year-over-year. This is in line with the peak interest we saw back in August 2018. One thing to note: program searches predominantly focus on the master’s award level.

Bar Chart showing international page views

Promising Programs with High International Student Demand

Not surprisingly, Business Analytics rises to the top of the list with a solid 72 percent growth rate. Accounting also makes the list with a 32% growth rate, again, not surprising. The real takeaways are the emerging programs with large growth, including Human Computer Interaction, Medical Informatics, and Digital Marketing. Review the potential for both on-campus and online programs. You may have a significant opportunity to attract new students to your institution.

Top 5 Year-to-Date Growth

New Sources for International Students

Traditionally, the largest country of origin for international students is India. But this is another example of why having complete data is important. The year-to-date growth in student demand from India has decreased by nine percent. As seen in the chart below, colleges and universities should look to smaller countries for larger opportunities. Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Pakistan are the three countries that are dominating searches for programs being offered. China is not included in this data.

August 2022 Year-to-Date Growth, Origin Country Page Views

Smaller countries with historically fewer page views are growing as well:

August Year-to-Date Growth; 1,000 Minimum Page Views

In conclusion, international interest is coming back after COVID. New areas of study are emerging as programs of interest. While India and China have traditionally been the dominant market, new countries are showing large growth potential.

Gray Associates

Gray Associates, Inc. provides the best available data, software, and facilitated processes to help higher education institutions make high-stakes decisions regarding academic programs, pricing, and locations.

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Gray Associates, Inc. is a software and services firm focused on higher education. We help education clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies that maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.

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