The most popular US universities for Chinese students

Sep 24, 2015

The United States remains the most popular destination for Chinese students looking to study abroad. In the 2013-2014 school year over 274,000 Chinese students came to the United States to study, accounting for 31% of the entire international student body that year. A large number of these students come from China’s wealthiest and most powerful families—the daughter of President Xi Jinping, for example, studied under an assumed name at Harvard. While the US remains the uncontested number one destination for Chinese students, the U.K. came in second with a total of 58,810 students commencing their studies in the 2013-2014 school year, compared to 57,190 Chinese students in all other European countries.

President Xi Jinping’s daughter studied at Harvard

While Chinese students only make up about 1.24 percent of the total student enrollment in the United States, an article from the Atlantic this year stated that they contributed $22 Billion to the U.S. economy. Financially strained universities are actively recruiting students from abroad, and the number of Chinese freshmen in the states has nearly tripled since the recession in 2008. Increased revenue seems to be a key factor in recruiting Chinese students, sometimes causing universities to choose profits over academic integrity. According to a 2010 report by Zinch China, 90% of all recommendation letters for Chinese applicants to U.S. universities are fake. What’s more, 70% of application essays are not composed by the student, while 50% of grade transcripts are falsified. Although the fraud has been described as a “significant concern” for many admission officers by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), US universities can’t seem quit their addiction to Chinese college students.

Chinese students contributed $22 billion to the U.S. economy

Universities aren’t the only parties benefitting from the increased interest in studying in the United States, however. While a U.S. College education itself already costs a fortune, “college consultants” in China charge parents hefty fees to get their children into foreign universities. One student at a Midwestern university told CNN that her parents had paid three consultants $ 4,500 to fill out the application, write her personal essay and even compose teacher recommendation letters. In 2014, the college consulting and test preparation market in China reached close to $550 million, with parents paying upwards of $30,000 to try to get their kids into top-tier American universities.

chinese students

10) New York University


2365 Chinese students (26% of the total international student body) – 2013 data

*with 11,677 international students in 2014, NYU has become the most popular destination for international students.

  • ·         Founded in 1831
  • ·         Has the most Oscar winners of any university
  • ·         Total undergraduate enrollment: 24,985
  • ·         Out-of-state tuition: $ 46,170
  • ·         Famous alumni include Lady Gaga, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen (didn’t graduate), Sonia Sotomayor, J.D. Salinger
  • ·         Overall admissions rate of 35.5 percent (2013)

9) University of California – Berkeley

ucberkeley cropped

1982 Chinese Students (33 percent of the total international student body) – 2014 data.

* 72 percent of international undergraduates were from East Asia & the pacific

  • ·         Founded in 1869
  • ·         UC Berkeley produces the most Ph.D.s annually amongst American universities.
  • ·         Total undergraduate enrollment: 27,126
  • ·         Out-of-state tuition: $ 38,140
  • ·         Famous alumni include Gregory Peck, Steve Wozniack, Earl Warren, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and Natalie Coughlin, Eric Schmidt.
  • ·         Overall admissions rate of 18 percent (2013)

8) Columbia University


2849 Chinese Students – (34% of the international student body) – Fall 2013 

  • ·         Founded in 1754
  • ·         Originally founded by royal charter as King’s College by George II of Great Britain
  • ·         Total undergraduate enrollment: 6,170
  • ·         Out-of-state tuition: $ 51,008
  • ·         Famous alumni include Warren Buffet, Yo-Yo Ma, Barack Obama, Alicia Keys, Allen Ginsberg, Theodore Roosevelt
  • ·         Overall admissions rate of 7.4 percent (2013)

7) University of California – Los Angeles


6,438 total International students**- the university has not disclosed the breakdown by country of its student body.

  • ·         Founded in 1882
  • ·         UCLA was the most applied-to four-year university nationwide, with over 105k applications in Fall 2014
  • ·         Total undergraduate enrollment: 29,633
  • ·         Out-of-state tuition: $ 35,631
  • ·         Famous alumni include James Dean, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jack Black, George Takei, Francis Ford Coppola and Jim Morrison
  • ·         Overall admissions rate of 22 percent (2013)

6) University of Southern California


4,132 Chinese students – (43 % of the total international student body)

  • ·         Founded in 1880
  • ·         Has the oldest and largest film school in the United States
  • ·         Has the most Olympic medal winners of any university
  • ·         Total undergraduate enrollment: 18,740
  • ·         Out-of-state tuition: $ 50,210
  • ·         Famous alumni include George Lucas, Louis Zamperini, Tom Selleck, Forest Whitaker and John Wayne.
  • ·         Overall admissions rate of 17.7 percent (2013)

5)University of Michigan – Ann Arbor


2619 Chinese Students – (44 percent of total international student body) 

  • ·         Founded in 1817
  • ·         Started in Detroit, 20 years before Michigan became a state.
  • ·         Total undergraduate enrollment: 28,395
  • ·         Out-of-state tuition: $ 43,377
  • ·         Famous alumni include Gerald Ford, Larry Page, Arthur Miller, James Earl Jones, Madonna and Iggy Pop (both singers were non-graduating students)
  • ·         Overall admissions rate of 33.3 percent (2013)

4) Purdue University


4617 Chinese Students (51% of the international student body) 2014 data

  • ·         Founded in 1869
  • ·         First school to offer a four-year bachelor in aviation
  • ·         Total undergraduate enrollment: 29,255
  • ·         Out-of-state tuition: $ 28,804
  • ·         Famous alumni include Neil Armstrong, Orville Redenbacher, Herman Cain, Drew Brees and George Peppard
  • ·         Overall admissions rate of 60.4 percent (2013)


3) University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign


5295 Chinese Students (51% of the total international student body) – 2015 data

  1. ·         Founded in 1867
  2. ·         Public Ivy league 
  3. ·         Total undergraduate enrollment: 32,959
  4. ·         Out-of-state tuition: $ 30,786
  5. ·         Famous alumni include Hugh Hefner, Gene Hackman, Jawed Karim and Roger Ebert.
  6. ·         Overall admissions rate of 64.3 percent (2013)


2) Ohio State University


3606 Chinese students (60% of the international student body) – 2014 data

  • ·         Founded in 1870
  • ·         Has one of the largest campuses in the US
  • ·         Total undergraduate enrollment: 44,741
  • ·         Out-of-state tuition: $ 26,537
  • ·         Famous alumni include George Steinbrenner, Bob Knight, Jesse Owens, Dwight Yoakam, R.L. Stine and Jeffrey Dahmer.
  • ·         Overall admissions rate of 55.5 percent (2013)

1) Michigan State University


4733 Chinese Students – (62% of the international student body) – 2014 data

  • ·         Founded in 1855
  • ·         Public Ivy
  • ·         Total undergraduate enrollment: 38,786
  • ·         Out-of-state tuition: $ 36,360
  • ·         Famous alumni include James Caan, Magic Johnson, Richard Ford, Tom Sizemore, Dick Martin and Sam Raimi.
  • ·         Overall admissions rate of 68.6.3 percent (2013) 

By Oliver Gorman, Personal Placement Consultant at Teaching Nomad

About our company: Teaching Nomad is an American owned and operated education recruitment company based in Shanghai, China. Our goal and purpose is to help great teachers find great teaching jobs. Year round, we have hundreds of teaching job vacancies. Whether your goal is to be an ESL teacher or teach in an international school, we have a teaching job for you. You can browse jobs online at www.teachingnomad.com/job-search for the latest job openings. Teaching Nomad is here to make teaching in China easier, so please feel free to reach out and contact us with any questions or inquiries!


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