TABLE 1-2 Change in Applications, Admissions, and Enrollments for International Graduate Students 2003-2004d,f


Total %

Engineering %

Life Sciences %

Physical Sciences %


–28 (–5)

–36 (–7)

–24 (–1)

–26 (–3)











* 2004-2005 data in parentheses.

percent decrease, and physical sciences a 3 percent decrease.f The American Institute of Physics (AIP), concerned about anecdotal evidence that international graduate enrollments were declining after 2001, performed a survey of PhD-granting physics departments in 2003 to complement its annual survey of departments.g AIP found that the proportion of international physics graduate students, after rising steadily for several decades to a peak of 55 percent in 2000, declined by 10 percent between 2000 and 2002.

What seems to be driving the decline in enrollments is a mix of reduced applications and reported difficulties in obtaining nonimmigrant visas. For the CGS surveys, the three primary reported causes of the declines in international graduate applications, admissions, and enrollments were increased global competition for students, changed visa policies, and less-favorable perceptions of the United States abroad. In the AIP survey, during the year preceding June 2003, two-thirds of the PhD-granting physics departments and almost half the master’s-granting departments reported that they had accepted foreign students who were unable to enroll because of visa difficulties.


The IIE Open Doors report is available at


The CGS graduate enrollment surveys from 1996-2002 are available at


Heath Brown. 2004. Council of Graduate Schools’ Report Finds US Graduate Schools Adjusting Policies and Procedures to Address Declines in International Graduate Applications and Admits. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools (September 7).


Heath Brown. 2004. Council of Graduate Schools Finds Decline in New International Graduate Student Enrollment for the Third Consecutive Year. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools (November 4).


IIE. 2004. “Survey of foreign student and scholar enrollment and visa trends for Fall 2004.” Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, New York: Institute for International Education (November).


Heath Brown and Maria Doulis. 2005. Findings from the 2005 CGS International Graduate Survey I. Washington DC: Council of Graduate Schools.


Michael Neuschatz and Patrick J. Mulvey. 2003. Physics Students from Abroad in the Post-9-11 Era (Pub. R-43). College Park, MD: American Institute of Physics. Available at Note that the small rise in physics enrollment noted by the CGS survey took place the year after the APS survey was fielded.

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