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The 10 Best Universities in the US for International Students

10 DEC 2021

Each year, thousands of international students attend some of the best universities across the US. As more students turn to the US to pursue higher education, the competition for these coveted spots will increase. Some US universities enroll more international students than others, so your chances of getting into them could be much higher. Find out which universities are best for international students and why these schools should make your application shortlist!

Table of Contents

  • Benefits of Studying in the US
  • Top 10 Universities with the Highest International Student Enrollment
  • How International Students can get into a Top US University
  • Find a School that Fits You
  • Final Thoughts

International students flock to US institutions to experience some of the country’s best academic possibilities. The percentage of international students in US universities increased from 3.4% to 5.5% between 2009 and 2019. In 2009, roughly 690,923 international students were studying in the US. According to Open Doors 2021 Annual Release, the number of international students in the US in 2019 increased to 1,075,496.

Countries like China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Canada account for the majority of international students studying in the US.

In 2020/21 the total number of international students studying in the US dropped by 15% due to the impact of COVID-19 but this number is expected to rise again as international borders start opening up again

What Are The Benefits of Studying in the US?

Many international students choose to study in the US because top colleges offer benefits in and out of the classroom. From world-class facilities to networking and growth opportunities, there’s something for every student.

The top benefits of studying in the US as an international student include:

  • Renowned Academics
  • Quality of Education
  • Transferrable Work Experience & Career Opportunities
  • Post-Grad Opportunities
  • Diversity

Although the cost of college, especially for international students, can be high, college is worth it in the long run. Studying in the US has a tremendous return on investment for international students.


Want to study in the US but don’t know where to start? The process of applying to US universities is not only complex, but also highly competitive, with acceptance rates to top universities like Harvard, now under 4%. Crimson’s unique college admissions consultancy model lifts students above the global applicant pool addressing every aspect of the application with equal intensity. Learn more about our US Admissions Support Program.

Top 10 Universities with the Highest International Student Enrollment

International students can apply to more than 5,000 universities across the US, including liberal arts, public, private, and Ivy League institutions. Here are the top 10 universities with the highest international student enrollment.

Universities with Highest International Student Enrollments
UniversityInternational StudentsTotal StudentsInternational Students Acceptance Rate
New York University17,05053,57612.8%
Northeastern University15,88037,82520.5%
Columbia University15,01531,4553.67%
University of Southern California14,99249,50012%
Arizona State University13,015119,95188.4%
University of Illinois Urbana Champaign12,83856,25763%
University of California San Diego (UCSD)10,82442,87538%
Boston University10,64633,67820%
Purdue University10,50049,69367.2%
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)10,27345,7429%

1. New York University

New York City, New York

International students make up 31.82% of students in NYU

NYU Admissions Overview
US News National RankingsInternational StudentsTotal StudentsMedian GPAAcceptance Rate
2817,05053,5763.712.8%

NYU enrolls more than 50,000 students from virtually every state and 133 countries. International students make up 31.82% of NYU’s student body. While NYU has an extensive list of over 400 academic programs for students to explore, some of their most popular programs are liberal arts and humanities, economics, business, and nursing.

Located in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, a New York City cultural center, NYU students can explore the city and immerse themselves in its abundance of art, culture, and food. Check out our university profiles to learn more about NYU.

A Day in the Life: NYU Student

Calculate your chances of admission to New York University with our College Admissions Calculator!

2. Northeastern University

Boston, Massachusetts

Northeastern university has one of the largest international students body making up 20% of total enrolments

Northeastern Admissions Overview
US News National RankingsInternational StudentsTotal StudentsMedian GPAAcceptance Rate
4915,88037,8254.020.5%

Northeastern University enrolled students from 148 countries in 2021. 20.5% of Northeastern’s student body consists of International Students. International students can also experience Northeastern University’s academic opportunities at the main campus and online campuses. Although most of Northeastern’s campuses are located in the US, they also have two satellite campuses in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada. These campuses offer Master of Science programs.

Popular majors at Northeastern include Business, Marketing, Engineering, and Management.

A Day in the Life: Northeastern University Computer Science Student

Calculate your chances of admission to Northeastern University with our College Admissions Calculator!

3. Columbia University

New York City, New York

Columbia is the Ivy League school with most international students enrolled

Columbia Admissions Overview
US News National RankingsInternational StudentsTotal StudentsMedian GPAAcceptance Rate
215,01531,4554.13.67%

Regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Columbia University is also one of the eight Ivy League institutions. Columbia’s diverse programs, world-class facilities, and renowned medical school draw students from over 100 countries worldwide.

Similar to NYU, Columbia’s location offers students vast opportunities and resources while supporting the academic advancement of its students. Learn more about what Columbia has to offer on our university profiles.

A Day in the Life: Columbia Student

Calculate your chances of admission to Columbia University with our College Admissions Calculator!

4. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California

USC has the largest international student body on the west coast

USC Admissions Overview
US News National RankingsInternational StudentsTotal StudentsMedian GPAAcceptance Rate
2714,99249,5003.75-4.012%

USC resides in the heart of one of the most diverse and vibrant cities in the US. The university’s objective is to make higher education more affordable to families by providing more than $640 million in scholarships and grants. International students at USC experience incredible opportunities in innovation and research.

In the most recent application cycle, 16% of admitted students were international students from countries like Canada, China, and India. 30% of USC’s total student body consists of international students.

Interested in hearing from a Crimson student and his journey from Mexico to Canada and finally, to USC for Business? Read Alfonso’s story!

A Day In The Life: USC Student

Calculate your chances of admission to the University of Southern California with our College Admissions Calculator!

5. Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

Arizona State University has one of the highest international student enrollments

Arizona State University Admissions Overview
US News National RankingsInternational StudentsTotal StudentsMedian GPAAcceptance Rate
11713,015119,9513.588.40%

Recognized as one of the most innovative universities in the US, Arizona State University (ASU) has robust online and in-person learning opportunities. ASU has one of the largest student populations, with international students from over 136 countries. The university upholds its recognition for having a highly ranked research facility and is a NASA-certified national space grant institute. ASU’s faculty also includes five Nobel laureates and seven Pulitzer Prize winners.

Calculate your chances of admission to Arizona State University with our College Admissions Calculator!

6. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, Illinois

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign has one of the highest number of international student enrolments

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Admissions Overview
US News National RankingsInternational StudentsTotal StudentsMedian GPAAcceptance Rate
4712,83856,2573.7863%

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign seeks to create a transformative educational experience for its students. The campus is full of cultural richness and diversity, with more than 51,000 international students. UIUC offers resources like the “Illinois International” program. This unique program supports international students, collaborates with global partners, fosters an institutionally inclusive culture, and awards scholarships to international students.

Calculate your chances of admission to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with our College Admissions Calculator!

7. University of California, San Diego

San Diego, California

UCSD has one of the highest international student bodies in the US

University of California, San Diego Admissions Overview
US News National RankingsInternational StudentsTotal StudentsMedian GPAAcceptance Rate
3410,82442,8754.138%

University of California, San Diego is another highly sought-after University of California campus with many international students. Students around the world recognize UCSD’s highly-regarded School of Medicine and Jacobs School of Engineering. 38% of UCSD’s student body consists of international students.

UCSD’s challenging, research-focused academic programs allow students to deepen their passions and understanding of their academic field. The university is also home to the most breathtaking beaches in California (another perk of studying in the US).

Calculate your chances of admission to the University of California, San Diego with our College Admissions Calculator!

8. Boston University

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston University has a high proportion of international students

Boston University Admissions Overview
US News National RankingsInternational StudentsTotal StudentsMedian GPAAcceptance Rate
3410,82442,8754.138%

Boston University, located in Boston, Massachusetts, has more than 30,000 students and 4,000 faculty members. More than 3,900 undergraduates from more than 50 countries. International students make up 20% of the student body at Boston University.

Even through Boston University is a larger school, many classes are still smaller in size, allowing students to dig deeper in their studies and create a tight-knit community. Boston’s founding principles are access to affordable higher education, scholarship possibilities, professional practice, and artistic creation.

A Day in the Life: Boston University Student

Calculate your chances of admission to Boston University with our College Admissions Calculator!

9. Purdue University

West Lafayette, Indiana

purdue university has one of the largest international student bodies

Purdue University Admissions Overview
US News National RankingsInternational StudentsTotal StudentsMedian GPAAcceptance Rate
4910,50049,6933.767.2%

Purdue University, located in Indiana, is nationally known for its renowned engineering and technology programs, modern facilities, and competitive sports programs.

Purdue University is also famous for its School of Aviation and Transportation Technology. Purdue alumni include 25 astronauts, including Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan, the first and last astronauts to land on the moon.

International students make up 21.13% of Purdue’s student body. If you’re an international student interested in pursuing science, engineering, or aviation, Purdue is the university for you!

Calculate your chances of admission to Purdue University with our College Admissions Calculator!

10. University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

UCLA is a popular destination for international students who want to study in the US

UCLA Admissions Overview
US News National RankingsInternational StudentsTotal StudentsMedian GPAAcceptance Rate
2010,27345,7424.34-4.689%

As a public research university, UCLA’s principal goal is to promote academic freedom, innovation, discovery, and creativity for its students. UCLA was ranked the top public university out of approximately 1,625 universities in the US. UCLA is a popular destination for international students who make up 22.5% of the student body.

Beyond the classroom, UCLA has more than 1,200 clubs and student organizations. These clubs give international students opportunities to explore current passions and build friendships.

A Day in the Life: UCLA Student

Calculate your chances of admission to the University of California, Los Angeles with our College Admissions Calculator!

How International Students can get into a Top US University

Students applying to top US universities often face a demanding and competitive application process. Applying to these universities as an international applicant requires dedication to academics, extracurriculars, essays, letters of recommendation, and other critical components of the application.

Top universities are not looking for the perfect candidate. They are looking for well-rounded students who will be an excellent fit for their institution.

Ivy League Admissions Statistics
IviesClass of 2025 Undergraduate EnrollmentClass of 2025 Acceptance RateClass of 2025 International Acceptance Rate
Harvard University1,9623.43%14.8%
Princeton University1,3453.98%13%
Columbia University2,1853.66%12%
Yale University1,7894.62%14%
University of Pennsylvania 3,3045.68%11%
Cornell University5,8368.52%~9.3%
Brown University2,5375.40%11%
Dartmouth College1,2296.17%15%

Want to go to an Ivy League school but don’t know where to start? Crimson Education is the world’s leading admissions consulting company. Our expert academic advisors help pave a customized roadmap for the journey to the Ivy League! Book a free consultation to learn more about our College Admissions Consulting Program.

How To Find a University That Best Fits You

When creating your US university shortlist, don’t choose a school solely based on its name or reputation. Think carefully about how your dream universities best fit your needs and goals.

Here are a few additional points to consider before applying to US universities:

  • Academic possibilities and programs
  • Campus culture
  • Financial aid
  • Career development opportunities
  • University values

Final Thoughts

Studying abroad is a popular option for many students. International students who choose to study in the US gain access to countless academic and networking opportunities. While the application process may seem daunting, Crimson can help! We have a network of more than 2,000 tutors and mentors from top-ranked universities and companies—their expertise spans from university admissions and academic tutoring to career mentoring, leadership, and extracurricular advising. Crimson supports students around the world so they can get into the best universities in the US. 

Are you an international student hoping to get into a prestigious US university? Contact one of our enrollment advisors today.

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