If you’re thinking about studying in America, then by all accounts that’s a great idea. The USA has the world’s best education. That’s not an opinion but a statement of fact. Every list of college rankings backs this up. For example, the 2018 Times Higher Education list of the world’s best universities features 15 US colleges in the top 20. Even more impressive is the QS Top Universitieslist, where American colleges are ranked as the top four educational institutions globally. So choosing America as your number one place to study is commendable. After all, you want a high-quality degree from a country filled with opportunities.
But if you’re not from America, then studying at one of the US’s colleges can be a challenge. Some US universities are definitely more geared towards taking on and improving the prospects of foreign students than others. And if you want to live in America after you complete your degree, then certain colleges will give you an edge. Immigration in America is getting stricter day by day, but it’s also a fact that there will always be a demand for highly skilled people.
Anyone from outside of America that wants to move there indefinitely after college needs to put together a plan. You need to pursue a career that has more job openings than qualified Americans (such as STEM or medicine.) But even then, it’s a challenge. But if you go to the right college in America, then that can significantly boost your odds of finding graduate employment that keeps you in the country. Therefore, picking the right college should be a vital part of your plan!
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If you’re wondering what the best colleges for foreign students are, then look no further. This list tells you everything you need to know. It compiles, from various sources, the US colleges that are incredible at educating non-US students and which lead to integration into the American job market. Perhaps none of these choices is right for you. That’s ok. You can take what these colleges are doing and see how the institutions that you’re considering compare.
Below are our rankings, from 30 to one, of all the best US colleges for foreign students. In our list, we’ve factored in aggregated college placement on the articles, percentages of foreign students at the colleges, financial aid that colleges grant to international students, post-education graduate employment rates and statements of satisfaction from foreign students.
With a strong showing on every methodology list, Columbia University tops our poll. Niche.com and College Factual name Columbia as the best international college. Forbes places it at 6th. Additionally, between 2016-2017, 213 international students received on average $62,004 in financial aid, the second highest sum of any college in America. This world-leading educational institution is located in the upper portion of Manhattan, New York City. And perhaps unsurprisingly for a college placed in the middle of the most international city in the world, Columbia is diverse. 15-17% of its students are international. That percentage makes it the 20th most foreign student occupied college in the country, according to US News. What's even better is that unlike other US colleges, Columbia accepts more international students each subsequent year. In fact, its international student body increased from 8,200 in 2009 to 14,000 in 2017.
Over 18,000 international students currently call University of Southern California home. And like many of the other best colleges on this list, USC's foreign student population is growing significantly. In 2011, 5,828 foreign students came to USC, meaning that the number has more than tripled in the last 7 years. Niche.com places USC as the third best college for foreign students. Forbes places it at 18 on its list. Most impressively, it's second on College Factual's list.
Every methodology list agrees that Carnegie Mellon is one of the five best American colleges for non-Americans. It's fifth on Niche.com, fourth on Forbes, and fourth on College Factual. Additionally, it has one of the highest foreign student populations in America. 23% of its students are international. One of the reasons why Carnegie Mellon is so popular among international students is due to its strong employment rates. According to the college's fall statistics for 2017, 3,178 out of 5,426 international students were able to secure OPT or STEM work extensions, allowing them to stay after their degrees' completions.
Ranking at 10th on the Niche.com list, 11th on the Forbes list and 8th on the College Factual list, New York University is an incredible choice for international students. Its foreign student services are staggering. For example, the Tisch Office of Career Development's team is dedicated to helping international people with their careers. On top of a high likelihood of being integrated with the thriving New York industries, foreign students benefit from bespoke college curated programs. These are geared toward making the foreign students happy and successful.
Forbes considers Babson College to be the top US university for foreign students. The other methodology lists are less generous but still consider it to be a great choice. Niche.com places it at 24th, and College Factual has it at 52nd. Babson is proud of its welcoming reputation and states that it, "values the individual cultural perspectives and experiences international students bring to the classroom and the community." These values are upheld by the college's staff in times of adversity. For example, when President Trump issued immigration restrictions on middle eastern countries, Babson College President, Kerry Healey, released a statement opposing it and vowing to help and affected students.
Coming in at seventh on Niche.com, third on Forbes and 80th on College Factual's lists of the best colleges for international students is Claremont Mckenna College. Getting into Claremont Mckenna College is incredibly difficult, however, due to its prestigiousness and small size. It only accepts around 1300 students per year. In 2016, 230 students were international. And by far the most popular subject for international students at Claremont Mckenna is economics, followed by mathematics and international relations & national security.
California colleges dominate this list for very specific reasons. The state's liberal focus and booming economy combine to form an incredibly appealing career destination for non-US citizens. And Berkeley is a fine choice for international students looking to integrate into this destination. It ranks eighth on Niche.com, 15th on Forbes and 13th on College Factual's lists. And the good news is that, after three years of stagnation, international student enrollment is increasing at Berkeley. From 2014 to 2016, the international student enrollment numbers stood at around 5,900, but in 2017, this increased to 6,345.
The top international student college in Atlanta, the city that many consider to be the capital of the south, is Emory. Niche.com ranks this college as the 4th best in America for non-US citizens. Forbes isn't so generous and places it at 29th. College Factual has it at 32nd. US News states that Emory was the college with the 16th highest international student population in 2016-2017. And international students attending Emory form a key part of its global strategy. This includes a range of pathways that allow international students to enter into jobs in worldwide American corporations, such as The Coca-Cola Company and Delta Airlines.
No one can doubt that Pomona College is welcoming for foreign students. According to Niche.com, 19% of its full-time students come from overseas to study at this California college. And Pomona College has a range of services that ensure international students thrive. For example, the International Student Support Program is a free service that gives foreign students all sorts of help. This program has advisors available 24/7 and even has its own app! Niche.com considers Pomona to be the second best college in America for international students. Forbes ranks it at 41st. College Factual has it at 117.
Placing at seventh on Forbes, 17th on Niche.com and 14th on College Factual's international student lists, Boston University is one of the most consistently ranked colleges. This result makes BU the best choice for an international student looking to study in Boston, Massachusetts. This city is home to a range of thriving tech and STEM companies that need qualified professionals. By teaching almost 10,000 international students in 2017, Boston University is doing its utmost to meet this demand. Additionally, international students benefit from the International Student & Scholar Hub, which assists with community, health, career and housing matters.
Both Niche.com and College Factual place this institution in the top 20 colleges for international students. They rank it 12th and 16th respectively. Forbes is slightly less generous, placing it at 31st. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is particularly proud of its international student & scholar services. Its team is incredibly helpful and even produced a guide to help prevent international students from becoming the victims of scams. Martin McFarlane, the director of the college's international services, states that the University of Illinois created, "the first-ever international advisor position at a US school back in 1907." With over a hundred years of experience, University of Illinois is a leader in managing international student issues!
This Upstate New York-based college has a lot to offer. Placing at 27th on Forbes, 11th on Niche.com and 23rd on College Factual's lists of the top US colleges for international students, Rochester is well regarded. Additionally, US News reports that University of Rochester's student body is 21% foreign, making it the ninth most international college in America. If you want to run your own business, in America or elsewhere, then Rochester may be the right choice for you. By far the subject with the most international students is business administration & management. This subject had 634 international students enrolled the last time College Factual checked. For comparison, the next most popular subject at this college, economics, had 170 international students.
By being located near the Mexican border and in liberal California, San Diego is very open and friendly to immigrants. Niche.com considers the University of California, San Diego to be the 23rd best college for international students. College Factual places it even higher, as 17th best. However, Forbes places it at 34th place. As you may expect from its location, University of California, San Diego has one of the highest international student populations in America. US News states that it has the 11th highest percentage of foreign students attending, which is just higher than New York University.
Swarthmore is a college that significantly overperforms in peer-led reviews. On Niche.com's list of the best US colleges for international students, which is heavily influenced by student reviews, it's ranked sixth. Forbes's best international student college list places it at 39th. College Factual puts it at 105th. Swarthmore is a great choice for any international student looking for financial aid as they study. Swarthmore's website states that the average financial aid granted to a foreign student last year was $61,650.
Featuring at ninth on Niche.com's list and 10th on College Factual's list, Northeastern University has some strong international student credentials. However, it doesn't make Forbes's list of the top 50 American colleges for non-US citizens. Despite this, other factors mean that Northeastern is the second best college for international students who want to study in Boston. Northeastern is responsible for getting many talented international students into prestigious job roles. It currently has over 13,000 international students and scholars from 147 different countries attending.
Both Forbes and College Factual rank MIT highly, placing it at fifth and 12th on their best international student college lists. It is absent from Niche.com's list, however. This is largely because it takes on less international students than its local rivals. Currently, it has around 3,800 international students. However, for international students who do get accepted into MIT, the job prospects are strong. The college's international students office is currently helping 1,300 alumni that have employment authorization in America. This is just a small proportion of the total number that it has assisted with job placement over the years.
Cornell's best ranking on the methodology lists is on College Factual, where it is placed third. Forbes places it at 25th, just below Harvard. Niche.com does not feature it. There are many great things about Cornell's approach to taking on international students. In the last decade, their international study body has increased from 3,360 to 5,073. This means that international students now make up 22% of the total student population. Cornell also runs a range of workshops that specialize in teaching international students how to successfully stay and work in the US after graduating. If this convinces you to want to apply for Cornell, be sure to check out this page on their website, which covers international student application tips.
This college features in the top 100 of every methodology list, but the placement is skewered. Rhode Island School of Design's best ranking is eighth place on Forbes. Niche.com places it at 25th, and College Factual has it at 73rd. As the name implies, Rhode Island School of Design is one of the best options for international students looking to pursue an artistic career, in the US or elsewhere. One thing that can appeal to a budding international artist is its Writing Center, which assists foreign students whose first language is not English. The tutors at the Writing Center help with everything that can improve a student's command of the English language.
Another institution that is placed on opposite ends of the methodology list spectrums, Bryn Mawr College is one of several Pennsylvania based colleges on the list. Forbes names it the 10th best college for international students. Niche.com places it at 15th. College Factual, on the other hand, places it at 95th. Bryn Mawr also has one of the largest international student communities of any US college. In any given year, between 25% to 30% of its students are foreign.
Mount Holyoke College ranks on every international student methodology list. It comes in at 19th on Niche.com, 17th on Forbes and 96th on College Factual. Unlike the other Massachusetts based colleges on this list, Mount Holyoke has a country feel. It isn't located near or in Boston but in an incredibly rural part of the state. International students are a very important part of Mount Holyoke, with one-quarter of its students being foreign. And the internet is filled with accounts of how great Mount Holyoke is for all people. The hashtag #WeAreMountHolyoke showcases this with positive posts on many social media sites.
Located in Iowa, Grinnell is one of the few colleges from the middle of America to make all of the methodology lists. Niche.com places it at 13th, Forbes places it at 37th and College Factual places it at 107th. Even though the college is not located in what many would consider to be an international person friendly part of the USA, Grinnell College is incredibly welcoming to all people. For example, it has a friendship program for new international arrivals, which has resident hosts and incoming students fill out forms that match people together based on their interests.
This institution makes the top 10 on two of the methodology's best international student lists. Forbes places it at ninth, while College Factual puts it at fifth. But it isn't to be found on the Niche.com list. The University of Pennsylvania is proud of the way that it assists its current international student population. For example, the Intercultural Leadership Program, which won the 2018 Models of Excellence Award, has been running for 12 years. It encourages a range of students to take part in team building and professional activities by highlighting different cultural approaches.
Coming in at sixth place on College Factual, 24th place on Forbes and not featuring on Niche.com, Harvard has mixed rankings. One thing in its favor is that the average financial aid that Harvard gave to international students in 2016-2017 was $60,687. This year, Harvard's international population is 10,022, up from 9,851 in 2017. Harvard's international student body sees a slight increase such as this every year. Harvard has also published a guide to culture shock that all international students can surely find useful!
Stanford ranks at 23rd on Forbes's list and ninth on College Factual's list. It doesn't make Niche.com's list. However, the average financial aid granted to an international student is $60,570. Another appealing aspect of Stanford is its Community Committee for International Students. This committee is a volunteer organization that builds links in the local community by organizing events such as morning coffee meets, English classes, and film screenings. On top of this, the college's Bechtel International Center provides for international students the Billie Achilles Fund. This is awarded for programming ideas that have an international focus.
This Ivy League college ranks 14th on Forbes and 23rd on College Factual's best international college lists. It isn't featured on Niche.com's list. The international student population of Stanford has experienced small but consistent growth over the last five years. For instance, in 2016, there were 1,831 international students, but in 2017 there were 1,884 international students. And doctoral degrees were the most popular kind that international students undertook in the last year. Over half its total international population chose to study these degrees.
Rice University is in Houston, one of America's fastest-growing cities. This means that it can be an incredible place for an international student to integrate with American society. Despite being in Texas, one of the least immigration friendly states in the USA, Houston is welcoming to new people from anywhere. And Rice University is placed at 16th on Forbes and 25th on College Factual's lists of the best international student colleges. It isn't featured on Niche.com. This may be due to the fact that financial aid is offered to a limited number of international students.
This college is placed 11th on College Factual's list of the best international student colleges. It's 35th on Forbes's list. It doesn't rank on Niche.com. It may well be featured on future Niche.com lists, however, as the college's international student population increased 23% in the last year alone. The best degrees for entering into Duke as an international student are its Master of Engineering program and Master of Quantitative Management program. The latter degree is comprised of over 80% international students overall.
College Factual places Yale as the 19th best option in America for international students. Forbes is more reserved, placing it at 33rd. It doesn't feature on Niche.com's list. However, the amount of average financial aid given to international students at Yale is high, standing at $58,864 according to US News. It currently has 2,841 international students enrolled, its highest number ever. This makes up 22% of the entire student population. And if you need any more convincing, then Yale has released this video that highlights how great the college is for non-US citizens.
The University of Tulsa is 21st place on Niche.com's international student list. It's 19th on Forbes's list and 106th on College Factual's list. The University of Tulsa is renowned for its College of Engineering and Natural Sciences. As a result, the engineering school features its largest concentration of international students. According to US News, the last time they checked, 329 international students were enrolled in the college's petroleum engineering degree, and 146 were enrolled in the mechanical engineering degree. The only downside is that University of Tulsa's international student population decreased slightly in 2016, with 1,165 students studying compared to 1,260 the year before.
Harvey Mudd College polarizes the methodology lists. Forbes ranks it as the second best US college for international students. However, College Factual places it at 125th. Niche.com neglects to feature it at all. This may be due to Harvey Mudd's small size, meaning it gets fewer reviews (student and parent reviews make up a large proportion of Niche.com's rankings.) There are currently only 844 students enrolled in the college. In 2016, 106 students were international, which is a slight decrease in 2015, when there were 115. The top course for international students at this college is general engineering.
Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools
At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs.
We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.
Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates
Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid
Admission and enrollment rates
Number of program options
Online Enrollment Score
Portion of learners taking at least one online course
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.
We’ve researched the most respectable sources in curating this list. We’ve stacked up a range of articles and then looked into the statements with our own research. Many colleges view our sources and use their rankings on the source lists to boast about their credentials. However, our list combines each source, creating the most definitive guide online. The different source materials inevitably have their own biases. So we’ve filtered the listings by most frequently cited and backed up the most consistent entries with our own supplementary research. The articles we’re referencing are as follows: